Saturday, August 26, 2017

WITMonth Day 26 | Thoughts on literary magazines

Today, I finally got around to reading PEN America's Glossolalia Vol. 2, Women Writing Brazil. It's the first time I've ever read a literary magazine or chapbook, at least all the way through. Honestly, I liked it a lot. It had a lot of the strong sides of an anthology, but felt looser and more flexible - stories alongside nonfiction alongside poetry. Even a small glimpse of a photography portfolio. It's a good collection, overall, and I can genuinely recommend it.

But this isn't a review of that book. Instead, I want to (briefly) talk about how literary magazines end up filling in a lot of the blanks that standard, full-length-book publishing often misses. I've talked about anthologies (manthologies!) before, where I've found the general lack of women writers in "generic" anthologies to be lacking (like in publishing at large). The situation seems a little clearer with literary magazines, in which the turnover is higher, faster, and presumably more responsive to the times. Why shouldn't literary magazines be the first to take a step forward?

Sources like VIDA indicate that the situation isn't so great in most magazines. Indeed, I imagine if I were to go through the prominent literary magazines that focus on international literature, I would find a mixed bag. But. I also know that there's a lot of good being done. Like Women Writing Brazil. Like Words Without Borders, which breaks boundaries in all directions. Others I'm probably not aware of.

I don't read many magazines, though I'm thinking I should. There's clearly a lot that I'm missing.


  1. Yes, I think on the whole magazines are better than anthologies. I'd also mention Asymptote, which focuses on world literature and tries to do so with parity. There are literary journals/magazines dedicated entirely to women writers - Room, Mslexia, The Fem Lit Mag, Literary Mama, The Mom Egg, Calyx and even some magazines which try to present news and beauty/fashion from a more feminist perspective, like Jezebel and The Pool. As I was growing up, Spare Rib was the iconic British feminist magazines, with excellent work of fiction and essays by and about women.

  2. For my participation for Women in Translation I have found Words Without Borders a very valuable resource. ,


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