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..."
In Brief: The Appeal of Brevity
February 17, 2009

By Nicholas Ripatrazone

Contemporary flash fiction has been slugged, whipped, and slapped: dragged through the literary mud, pegged as incidental. While some appreciate the concision of the form, others hate the practice, positing that flash fiction has excised indelible elements of fiction, including pacing, profluence, and emotional resonance. Many of these criticisms are warranted. Often works of flash fiction appear as appendages of longer narratives: well-crafted scenes, but not autonomous stories.

Brevity, the online journal of “extremely brief” creative nonfiction, was first published in 1997. The journal accepts and publishes works of less than 750 words; a heartbeat on the page. Brevity proves that the stunted narrative is better suited for literary fact, not fiction. While many criticisms of flash fiction originate in the form’s anaerobic nature, creative nonfiction is a vastly different medium. We know, from Lee Gutkind—who shares a spot on the editorial board of Creative Nonfiction, along with Brevity’s editor Dinty W. Moore—that creative nonfiction appropriates elements of literary fiction, including detail and dialogue. Yet works of creative nonfiction also arrive with a certain level of lived authority: the characters of factual works have hated and loved, and those past experiences bleed into the present narratives. This is not to say that the writer of fiction is unable to craft characters with authentic, yet invisible backstories: the narrator of James Salter’s novel A Sport and a Pastime is focused on the sexual relationship of a couple, and yet his complicated voyeurism speaks to a deep existence beyond the actual text. But often flash fiction, as much shorter narratives, have a paucity of resonance. Dynamics of syntax and imagery aside, they leave readers still hungry for significance.

The selections of Brevity, past and present, satiate a need for resonance that flash fiction is unable to achieve. They also reveal a point of contention about the creative nonfiction form: at what level of origination, revision, or, “compression” (Gutkind’s concept of compressing several similar events into one action) does creative nonfiction simply become fiction? The recently released Brevity 29 offers several examples of brief narratives of both blurred genre and earned resonance. Joe Bonomo’s “Cathy or Katy” begins with a first sentence suited to a longer work: “The rain fell through bus headlights, getting us ready for the big lie.” Imagery followed by idea, enough forward progression to keep the reader going: the narrator and a friend spend part of the night at a topless bar, but the narrator ends the night in bed with a woman. She is “Cathy or Katy,” and while her name is malleable, her physicality is not: “The thousands of freckles on her cheeks, the way her loose hair caught light from the desk lamp by the bed as if each strand were alight and moving.” But physicality is ephemeral for this narrator. What is permanent, though, is a memory of his friend Eric “mount[ing] an unconscious girl drunk on beer and gin in a motel room in Ocean City, Maryland.” And yet that certain memory is also uncertain, as the narrator wonders if he “imagine[d] the whole thing.”

The narrative concludes with a memory the narrator can be certain of: the birth of his young brother, complete with a “photo to prove the memory correct, just as it happened, as I promised.” Bonomo’s deftly written, brief essay is a welcome metaphor for the short creative nonfiction that Brevity publishes: in a genre bound by reconstruction of memories, a peppering of fiction is inevitable, even welcome. We do not doubt that Bonomo visited the bar with a friend, or that some version of the Ocean City tale is true, but the gradations of fact disappear beneath the lyricism of the prose. Yet creative nonfiction also needs “photo[s]” of fact, and Brevity shows that these photos can exist outside the scope of the narrative, since the work is of factual origin, and thus a snapshot of the writer’s life. Flash fiction, as a creation of the unreal, has no such backbone or genesis.

It is not surprising that Bonomo is a prose poet: his newest collection, Installations, was selected by Naomi Shihab Nye for the 2007 National Poetry Series. Prose poetry, although it has its detractors, has escaped the consistent criticism of flash fiction; perhaps the form, in its Baudelairian existence, appears more natural. We expect compression in verse. We should also expect it in creative nonfiction. Bryan Fry’s “Hill Street Blues,” from the same issue of Brevity, subsists on precision of selection. The first line—“My first memory fails me”—speaks to Bonomo’s similar lack of certainty. Fry, likewise, offers initial images: living room carpet, a color television, his mother, a cigarette. Like the “spiraling” smoke in the room, Fry leaves the scene before we understand it, mirroring the inadequacies of cognition expressed in the piece.

The next two brief scenes occur in a car, with more smoke, more fragmented images, and his disconnected parents. The essay then jumps to Great Falls, Montana, where an argument fractures the parents' relationship, and the narrator is left with his father. They end up “alone” together, “kneel[ing] on the soft blue carpet at the edge of his bed, praying for a mother. Not my mother, who I seem to have forgotten, but someone who will take care of my father.” The narrative concludes with a focus on the narrator’s prayers, and the final threading of mother’s smoke, her dissipating influence which the narrator knows he will “forget” if “I don’t concentrate.”

The weight of Fry’s essay has an inverse relation to its length. Brevity is a worthwhile journal for practical reasons—several essays can be read and reread during a lunch break—but also for less tangible concerns of genre. Creative nonfiction earns the right to be short-spoken. A palpable, lived world exists beyond the page, and the realm of the short essay is merely a passed fence post along the way.

Nicholas Ripatrazone was named runner-up for The Kenyon Review Short Fiction Prize, and his fiction manuscript, Mustard, was a semifinalist for the Hudson Prize. New work of his is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review and The Saint Ann's Review. He is pursuing an MFA from the University of Texas at El Paso, where he serves as fiction editor of Quicksilver.

[Above picture is the Brevity logo.]


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


Joseph Brodsky's literary executor launches new poetry magazine: Little Star

New lit mag: Artifice

New indie publishing wiki is launched by Dave Housley and Roxane Gay

CLMP's Lit Mag Adoption Program for Creative Writing Students

Upcoming Creative Nonfiction redesign

Galley Cat says Rick Moody's Twitter story generates Twitter backlash

"Fictionaut and the Future of the Literary Journal" at Galleycat

More editors leave Granta after magazine "restructuring"

Trailer for Colson Whitehead's short story "The Comedian" from Electric Literature #2

McSweeney's offers preview of their upcoming newspaper issue, the SF Panorama

On the lit blog Bookish Us: “Why Don’t Aspiring Writers Read More Literary Magazines”



Opium magazine Literary Death Match: NYC, San Fran, Denver, Beijing, etc [ongoing series]

One Story cocktail hour at Pianos, New York City [ongoing series]

Have An Upcoming Lit Mag Event? Email:

Luna Park is a proud member of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses


York College of Pennsylvania


New Madrid

Hitotoki — A narrative map of the world