We’d like to invite editors and writers to participate in our new series on issues and representations of race, class, gender, and sexuality in independent publishing. How do these issues affect you as an literary magazine editor interested in publishing underrepresented communities, or a writer who wants to challenge dominant notions of identity? What are your thoughts, concerns, ideas about how literary communities reinforce, respond to, and confront racism, classicism, sexism, and homophobia? Contact Marcelle Heath at

"Little magazines are the furnace where American literature is being forged."

George Hitchcock, Editor of Kayak (1964-1984)


SERIES: Race, Class, Gender & Sexuality in Indie Publishing

You Girls (pt. 2)
By Helen Sedgwick

"As an editor, I would not publish a piece of writing that contained attitudes I find unacceptable anymore than I would publish a story that I thought was badly written."

You Girls (pt. 1)
By Kirsty Logan

"As an editor, I do not care about writers' gender or sexuality; I'm just interested in exciting short fiction. But I'm a woman and I'm queer and I'm a feminist. As such, I'm more likely to be interested in characters that I can identify with and themes that I agree with."

Questions of Authenticity
By Michael Copperman

"The question of authenticity, then, especially authorial authority conferred on the basis of phenotype or racial background, is the wrong line of inquiry."

Community and the Body
By Sherisse Alvarez

"My work has appeared in various publications interested specifically in issues of identity. I still struggle at times with the notion of the “mainstream,” how my work relates or does not relate to the canon."

Jarrett Haley, BULL: Fiction for Thinking Men
With Jarrett Haley

"That I am not a sociologist or gender-studier by trade I should make clear to begin with."

I Don't Know How to Write About Race
By Roxane Gay

"This is only about race."


Megan M. Garr, Versal

Jarrett Haley, BULL: Fiction for Thinking Men

Laura van den Berg, Part II

Laura van den Berg, Part I

Allison Seay, The Greensboro Review

Mary Miller

Eilis O'Neal, Nimrod International

Erin Fitzgerald, Northville Review

Don Bogen, Cincinnati Review

Andrew Porter

Nam Le

Benjamin Percy


Luna Digest, 1/5

"One of the more interesting literary magazine discussions to come about in recent months has happened via email, twitter feeds, and blogs about Andrew Whitacre’s post titled “The End of the Small Print Journal. Please.” on the identity theory editors’ blog."

Luna Digest, 12/15

"The Atlantic Monthly decides not only to be the first magazine to sell single short stories for the Kindle, but they will also charge 4 times as much as One Story does for a single story. And One Story will actually print the story out and mail it to your house."

Luna Digest, 12/8

"Today’s the day The San Francisco Panorama from McSweeney’s hits the streets. The idea is to put out an exciting newspaper edition to show the power of the medium in a world of declining newspaper publishing incentives."

Luna Digest, 12/3

"For most people who read fiction and spend much time online, this won’t be news: Electric Literature recently twittered the entirety of Rick Moody’s story “Some Contemporary Characters” over three days with the assistance of several co-publishers, of which Luna Park was one."

Luna Digest, 11/24

"I’ve been stumbling across some great excerpts recently from David Shields’s upcoming book Reality Hunger: A Manifesto..."

Luna Digest, 11/17

"Just how much did Salman Rushdie have to do with Alex Clark’s resignation from Granta? (Nothing at all, according to him.)"


Strong Recommendations
By Greg Weiss

"I had the feeling, when I finished reading, that I had been spending my time well, not just in relation to the time that I had actually spent reading it, but more generally. And I often don’t feel that way."

By David Backer

"But then I read the other stories and felt the good things they have to offer. I felt their quanta of colors and semantics congealing together and I began to like it. Because, to some degree, this is how we experience life: through concatenations of colors and emotions and words, mixtures stippling into the stories of our existences."

Between Earnestness & Irony
By Greg Weiss

"The largest problem with irony as a dominant literary device is that, similarly to Surrealist painting, it is easy to do fairly well but very difficult to do greatly."

People Like People
By David Backer

"After reading a lot of online fiction last month, I'm noticing something: people like people. People like reading about people, anyway."

The Cellist's Disorientation

"I would like to believe that in the midst of loneliness and worry (the anxious, questioning voice at the end) the world feels perfectly made for us and that we assist in its making."

There Is No Visible Circus

"Jennifer Atkinson's "A Leaf from the Book of Cities"— an ekphrastic poem written after Paul Klee's painting of the same name—caught my attention in the most recent issue of Cave Wall..."

Panorama Week Part 5: All the News

Panorama Week Part 4: The Comics

Panorama Week Part 3: Section One (or The News)

Panorama Week Part 2: The Book Review of the Future?

Panorama Week Part 1: Opening the Package

Teachers: Use Literary Magazines
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"Before I go any further, I should admit that I could be doing a much better job in my financial support of literary magazines....but those who have worked in public education know the difficulties of working within community-voted budgets.  Literary magazine subscriptions at the classroom level are an educational luxury, not a need.  But that’s not a sufficient excuse."

Aiming High: The Impossible Ambitions of Versal
By Sam Ruddick

"I have no experience with gorilla suits or child soldiering, myself, but I think it’s reasonable to suspect that standing around in a gorilla suit is better than being coerced into shooting people, or getting shot at."

Espresso Book Machine
By Marcelle Heath

"On Demand Books's digital photocopier, book trimmer and binder, and desktop computer that can produce a trade paperback book in five to ten minutes."

Poets Publishing Poets: A Review of Cave Wall 5
By George Held

"When a young prize-winning poet decides to publish her own poetry journal, readers get to see how her taste compares to her talent."

I Don't Know How to Write About Race
By Roxane Gay

"This is only about race."

Interview with Former Greensboro Review Poetry Editor Alison Seay
By Jordan Elliott

"I don't know that it's a matter of being comfortable in our skin as much as it is our belief in the importance of the tangible book."

On Nimrod International: An Interview & Notes
By Jeffrey Tucker

"For poetry, we dislike poems that are actually more like journal entries rather than poems. For fiction, we see a lot of stories that are really just “talking heads,” stories in which people stand around and talk and yet nothing happens."

Dismissing Africa
By Greg Weiss

"One of the many risks of Witness, 'the magazine of the Black Mountain Institute,' presenting an issue dedicated to the theme of Dismissing Africa is that the very notion of dismissing 'Africa' already dismisses the individuals who live in Africa."

Poets and Prose: Gerard Manley Hopkins and Fiction Theory
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"Robert Olen Butler is careful in his definition...he is not arguing that yearning is individual to the short short story form. Rather, yearning is endemic to fiction."

Literary Magazines in Peril?
By Travis Kurowski

"At least part of the problem is the usual one: All of these magazine have no doubt a vastly greater number of people desiring to be published in their pages than they have readers willing to financially support their endeavors."

Interview: Erin Fitzgerald, Northville Review
By Marcelle Heath

"I like when someone's very quietly or very openly fooling with an emotional manipulation dial."
"While my stories aren't autobiographical, I really do believe in the whole write-what-you-know thing. One time I wrote a story from the point of view of an old sick man and it was just terrible. It was like really bad Carver. The man sat around watching daytime television and eating pie."

Sort-of Prose Poems
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"James Harms offers a contemplative effort in a lean essay that turns the prose poem discussion in a noteworthy direction..."

Poetry 2.0
By Marcelle Heath

"Setting aside, for now, its ideological nomenclature, its appeal lies in the interpretative dynamic between text and image..."

Greetings from Knockout
By Brett Ortler

"We started KO because we wanted to try something that was different than we'd seen in other literary magazines, both in terms of thematic slant and in terms of mission..."
"He said that if he were asked to be poetry editor of a magazine, he would aim for unity. I told him that was more or less the exact opposite of what I wanted to do..."

Bon Voyage
By Marcelle Heath

"I imagine party-goers huddled around a fire pit as they share stories about stalking a would-be lover..."

In Brief: The Appeal of Brevity
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"Contemporary flash fiction has been slugged, whipped, and slapped: dragged through the literary mud, pegged as incidental..."
"Kayla Soyer-Stein recreates the wonderful magic and sense of the uncanny that fairy tales offer..."
"Recently I won a best humorous poem competition, and it appears I have a knack for healthy self-ridicule..."
"I think about that a lot—about the balance of light and dark and about allowing my characters to have an open destiny. I think that’s one of the most important aspects of story writing..."
"It calls itself the 'farthest north literary journal for writing and the arts,' which sounded a bit suspicious to me, so I did a little poking around to verify the assertion..."
"The history of Poetry is a history of resistance in all directions..."
"The 1990s was a wild, wonderful, idealistic decade in Prague. Excellent exchange rates and the possibility of a relatively uninhibited way of life lured expatriates in droves to the Czech capital. In short, it was the perfect time for the founding of a literary journal..."
"One author climbs to the top of a tree trunk support beam that’s part of the architecture of the writing space. Another is balancing a couch cushion on his head and explaining wog: a dog who uses a dog-sized wheel chair to get his back end around San Francisco..."

Avian Arts: The LBJ
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"While literary niches often result in suffocation, eighty pages of plaid, The LBJ’s aviary focus proves malleable enough..."
“'In consideration of what looks like a total collapse of our economic system,' he said, 'I thought the bookfair went very well...'"
"There are two wooden figures on my husband’s desk. Figurines. They are meant to resemble humans, black humans. African-Americans..."

The Open Destiny /
An Interview with Andrew Porter


Andrew Porter grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his B.A. in English from Vassar College and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He is the author of the recently published short story collection, The Theory of Light and Matter, which won the 2007 Flannery O’Connor Award in Short Fiction. He is also the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards and his fiction has appeared in One Story, Epoch, The Ontario Review, Prairie Schooner, The Antioch Review, StoryQuarterly, The Threepenny Review, Others Voices, Story, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology, among other places. He currently lives in San Antonio, where he is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Trinity University. Barry Hannh says of The Theory of Light and Matter, "I've known of Andrew Porter's genius for ten years. He's a born storyteller. Every page of The Theory of Light and Matter will change something in your life."

Luna Park: All of the stories in your Flannery O’Connor Award winning first story collection, The Theory of Light and Matter, are finely-constructed dramatic musings on American life. Marilynne Robinson seems to accurately describe the pieces as “highly controlled,” as fiction with “transparency as its adornment.” This is high praise for a first collection, and well-deserved praise, as it is difficult to imagine the stories being any more clearly told—and so equally difficult to imagine them any more heartbreaking in the end. The worlds of the characters in these stories are depicted with such clarity, as are their fates. Though some pieces end hopefully, much of the collection is tinged with melancholy, and the characters are so typically burdened by emotional stress they seem barely able to discern in the fog of the present. Do you think melancholic would be an accurate description of the collection as a whole? Or is that inaccurate? What word or words might you use to describe the collection?

Andrew Porter: Thanks for the kind words. As for your question, I think that all of these stories are about some form of longing, and when you write about longing there’s bound to be a lingering sense of absence that pervades the work and maybe that’s what you’re picking up on. That said, I also try to infuse enough light into these stories, enough hope, that even when the characters are left in a tough spot at the end—as they often are—there’s still the possibility for change. They still have what Marilynne Robinson used to refer to as “the open destiny of life.” I think about that a lot—about the balance of light and dark and about allowing my characters to have an open destiny. I think that’s one of the most important aspects of story writing.

LP: What initially brought you to writing? And, specifically, what draws you to the short form? For example, I feel my youthful obsession with comic books has a lot to do with my attraction to literary magazines. What early influences did you have? From your fiction and interviews you’ve given, I would guess suburban life and the stories of John Cheever.

AP: I always knew that I wanted to do something artistic, and much of my childhood and teenage years were devoted to visual arts (especially drawing), writing music, and eventually filmmaking, which was what I initially planned to pursue in college. I didn’t really become interested in writing until the summer after my freshman year when I stumbled upon a book of Raymond Carver’s short stories on my parents’ bookshelf. I remember reading that book with amazement, and then rereading it and rereading it. I think what I was responding to in Carver’s work was not the subject matter so much as the spare beauty of the writing itself, the precision of it. This was probably the first time that I can remember responding to a piece of fiction on a purely technical level, the first time that reading a story made me actually want to write a story. The next fall I enrolled in a fiction writing class, and with the encouragement of some professors, I eventually decided to apply to graduate programs in creative writing. It was only later that other writers, like Cheever, began to influence me as well, but if we’re talking about early influences, it would definitely be Raymond Carver.

LP: The first paragraphs of each story in your collection seem to contain the DNA of the entire piece. For example, the already well-know first paragraph of “Hole”: “The hole was at the end of Tal Walker’s driveway. It’s paved over now. But twelve summers ago Tal climbed into it and never came up again.” That “paved over now” sentence particularly resonates by the end of the piece. Supposedly Gabriel Garcia Marquez spends a lot of time perfecting the first paragraphs in all of his works before finally moving on. Do you do something similar? And is this somehow intentional, that these first paragraphs seem to both give birth to the story, while at the same time embodying it?

AP: Well, I don’t usually start with the first paragraph, but at some point in the writing process I usually discover a sentence or a series of sentences that seem like the natural opening for the story. After that, I spend a lot of time working on the paragraph that grows out of that sentence or those series of sentences. I think the first paragraph of a story is probably the most important paragraph and also the hardest to write, at least for me. I mean, this is where you’re making all of the difficult decisions about tone, setting, character, conflict, and so on. So yes, I think on some level, the story—or what the story will become—needs to be there in that opening paragraph, and, if I look back on most of the stories in my collection, I think the central conflict of the story is always there—the DNA of it, as you said—the roadmap to what the story will become.

LP: All of the stories seem intensely personal, perhaps because they are all told in the first person. Was that intentional? And, what do you think of recent criticisms that first-person narrators are over-used by young writers?

AP: Well, I wanted the collection to have a very personal feel, which is why I ended up cutting out some of the third person stories that I had initially included in earlier versions of the manuscript. I wanted the stories, as a whole, to have a very intimate, almost confessional quality to them, and though I liked some of the third person stories that I cut, they ultimately didn’t have that same feeling or tone. As for the criticism about the abundance of first person stories, I don’t really have an answer for that, though it is something I have noticed among my students’ work and have even talked to them about in class. A lot of my students believe it’s a generational thing; others attribute it to the popularity of blogs and the fact that their generation feels very comfortable expressing themselves publicly in the first person. I don’t really know, though. Personally, I’ve always felt that the story you want to tell determines the point of view. For example, I’m working on a novel right now that’s told from an omniscient third person point of view. I choose that point of view because that’s the point of view I need to use to tell this particular story. It wouldn’t work in the first person, or at least it wouldn’t work as well, and so it’s not something I ever really questioned.

LP: You have a lot of experience in the literary magazine world, having published with, to name a few: One Story, Epoch, The Threepenny Review, The Antioch Review, and many more. Are there any particular magazines you follow as a reader? Any you are reading at the moment?

AP: Sadly, I don’t have the time to read as many literary magazines as I used to, but I try to read as many as I can. At the moment, my two favorites are probably Zoetrope and One Story. I just think that Zoetrope publishes consistently strong stories that are not only original, but also beautifully crafted. I rarely come across a story in Zoetrope that I don’t at least admire on a technical level. And I feel similarly about One Story. The basic concept of One Story—one story per issue—is just brilliant to begin with, but I also love the fact that they don’t seem to be locked into one particular aesthetic, or style, or type of subject matter. One issue might be high realism, while the next might be closer to magical realism, and they’re not afraid to cross genres. They just have a very broad, all-encompassing idea of what a story can or might be.

LP: Have working with literary magazines assisted you as a writer? And, what then, if anything, was different working on your book with UGA Press?

AP: In a few cases, I went through a fairly rigorous copyediting process with the editors of literary magazines, but for the most part, the changes that were made to my stories were pretty minor. With The UGA Press, however, the copyediting process was much more involved. I remember receiving the copyedited version of my collection in the mail and being overwhelmed by the amount of queries and suggested changes. Initially, they told me I had two weeks to get back to them with my own notes, and I realized right away that this was going to be impossible. I ended up spending about a month going through the manuscript page by page, line by line, considering every single query and suggestion, then deciding whether or not I was willing to accept that change or address that query. It was a stressful process, partly because I wanted to be reasonable and open-minded about the suggestions, but at the same time I wanted to feel good about the final product. I didn’t want to have any regrets. I had an excellent copy editor, though, and in the end I think that the process really improved the collection as a whole. Even when I didn’t accept a change, I liked the fact that I was forced to explain my reasoning and defend my position.

LP: I notice that you published a piece with Story, possibly the greatest literary magazine influence on the short story form in recent history. Were you a reader of the magazine? What was your experience working with its editors?

AP: That was actually my very first publication, and it happened because I won their annual short-short story contest. And yes, I was absolutely a huge fan of the magazine long before they ever published that story. To be honest, I don’t think I ever really believed I had a chance of publishing a story with Story, so the fact that it happened when I was so young and with the very first story I ever sent out was pretty exciting. Lois Rosenthal was the genius behind Story magazine and an absolute pleasure to work with. I remember that she didn’t change anything significant about the story, but her small line-edits—taking out a word or substituting a period for a semi-colon—were brilliant. It still makes me sad to think about that magazine. I remember I was living in Berkeley when I found out that Lois had decided to close shop, and I remember how much it affected me. It seemed like an enormous blow to the short story form.

LP: Finally, the question we ask all the writers interviewed on Luna Park. It seems there are two sorts of readers: those who enter a bookstore and go straight to the magazine stand, and those that first go for the bookshelves. Which one are you?

AP: Well, if I’m in a bookstore that has a good literary magazine section, I go straight to that section. I’m not a big fan of glossy magazines, but I love to page through literary journals and look for new writers. I think this started back when I was living in Iowa City. They have an amazing bookstore there called Prairie Lights—probably my favorite bookstore in the country—and a whole section of the second floor of Prairie Lights is devoted exclusively to literary journals. They literally have everything, all those magazines you hear about but never actually see. Anyway, I remember standing there for hours, just paging through those journals, looking for good stories or reading through authors’ bios. It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.



mcsweeney's 32

Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern 32; Editor: Dave Eggers; Published: San Francisco; Est: 1998.

Luna Digest on Fictionaut Blog every Tuesday:

Fictionaut Blog


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CLMP's Lit Mag Adoption Program for Creative Writing Students

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