Rainy Day Magazine

Rainy Day Magazine is published by undergraduates at Cornell University, but accepts submissions from undergraduates across the country. Founded in 1969, it is one the oldest university-based literary magazines around. The magazine, which is published twice a year, includes poetry, fiction, and other in-between genres, such as prose poems. They seem pretty flexible with their submissions, since they have no specified word count limitations.

Since the journal publishes undergraduate work, many of the poems and stories have themes about college life. Just as many do not, testifying to the inventiveness of young writers. Even if you are a 20-year-old college student, you, by no means, are obligated to write about college parties (in fact, most people would probably prefer to read about something else). The stories and poems in the latest issue available online have a wide range of interesting characters including a psychiatrist-turned-stalker, juvenile delinquents, and a hermaphroditic squid. A sense of originality and freshness ran through the works.

The poems in Rainy Day pay close attention to language, playing with words and shaping them in interesting ways. Some of the poetry struck me as too trite and clever, but others were full of rich imagery and interesting dialect. I recommend checking out “Low and Rustic Life” by Kevin Mosby in the Fall 2012 issue (and I should be transparent- Kevin is a good friend of mine, but I also think he’s a great poet, so his poems are worth taking a look at).  The poem looks at attending university from a different point of view, the view of the less educated family members who lament the younger generation’s eagerness to escape their humble roots. It rings with a poeticness that is unassuming and grounded.

My favorite work of fiction from the last issue was a short story called “Mountaineering” by Miklos Zoltan, which depicts a married man facing a mid-life crisis. The main character suffers from a malaise, a discontentedness with his mediocre life that he can’t quite put his finger on. I liked the way the author portrayed the inequality in the marriage through harping on their differences through the repeated use of unequal numbers to describe things about them, always using one-and-a-half for the wife, and three for the man. It gave me as a reader a concrete sense of how the couple can never match up anymore on their opinions or their experiences.

For More Information

Rainy Day

Website: rso.cornell.edu/rainyday

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Joyland Magazine

Joyland Magazine is an online magazine that focuses on prose from different regions across North America. Their regions include New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, the South, and the Midwest, and each region has an editor who reads submissions of short fiction, excerpts from novels, and personal essays. The writer should live in the region or have some sort of connection to it, but the stories themselves do not need to reflect a regional quality. The magazine also publishes a print magazine twice a year, featuring selections from the website. Joyland publishes emerging writers and they post new stories often— once every week— so this is a great place for emerging writers to send in their work.

The prose published in the journal is highly polished and mature. There doesn’t seem to be a unifying theme to the content, except for an interest in regional character which is not necessarily a requirement for submission. From the stories I read on the site, the journal seems to be interested in literary fiction depicting real-life situations, such as the death of a child or the sexual frustration of a middle-aged woman. The majority of the pieces published are traditional in form and depict straightforward narratives, and, as a result, are perhaps not as innovative or interesting as some other types of fiction or creative nonfiction. The style of the writing in much of the writing is academic, and many of the contributors seem to be from MFA faculty or from the MFA world.

My favorite piece that I’ve read from this magazine so far is a short story called “Break All The Way Down,” by Roxane Gay from the Midwest Region. It deals with a similar issue as the one discussed in the story “Of Rivers and Caves” by Adrian Dorris published in the latest issue of Blackbird, but I was struck by how different it was from the piece in Blackbird, which felt very elusive and circumspect in comparison. Both stories are about parents who have lost a child and who have another chance to raise a child, yet they are still haunted by the trauma of their original loss. I found the clarity of the prose in “Break All the Way Down”  and the author’s piercing depiction of the mother’s inexpressible grief to be compelling. The protagonist reminds me of the main female character in “Silver Linings Playbook.” But alas, I digress.

Whether you decide to submit to Joyland Magazine or not, I recommend reading some short fiction published on their website. They seem to be on the forefront of redefining what it means to be an online literary magazine by delivering high-quality writing more frequently than just two or three times a year. It will be interesting to see whether more online journals will turn to this type of periodic publication in the future.

Submission Period:

Year Round

For More Information:

joylandmagazine.com

Blackbird

Blackbird is a well-established online journal published twice a year by staff and students at Virginia Commonwealth University. The journal publishes both emerging and established writers, including acclaimed poet Tomas Tranströmer, who won the Nobel Prize of Literature in 2011. Needless to say, submitting to Blackbird may seem daunting due to the high caliber of the works they publish. But you might as well submit your best work and see what happens.

Blackbird accepts submissions of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction reviews. They also have a unique gallery section where they display videos of dramatic performances, along with the script. Blackbird has other innovative features that take advantage of its online format such as an introduction reading loop in every other issue, in which the editors introduce some of the upcoming writers featured in the issue. Blackbird has a strong electronic media focus, providing audio recordings of many poems so you can listen to them read aloud, and also giving the reader access to recordings of readings held by the journal, in which authors read their own work and discuss it. They also publish the winners of two different prizes each year— the Levis Reading Prize Winner and the Cabell First Novelist Award.

The poetry in this journal is not the most accessible for those new to contemporary poetry. It is often very formally innovative and filled with allusions to classical literature. If this is your niche, then Blackbird may be the right journal for you. Personally, I am not the most sophisticated reader of poetry, and I struggled through many of the poems published in the most recent issue. I did enjoy the poetry of Michael McGriff that was featured in the Fall 2013 issue, especially his prose poem “Figures in the Landscape” since the images that surfaced from the rural landscape where the poems took place seemed striking to me.

The fiction in Blackbird is very well written and often provides a window into slices of American life that I have not encountered before. My favorite piece from the latest issue was “Of Rivers and Caves” by Adrian Dorris. In the story, a father struggles to raise his autistic daughter while haunted by the guilt of his other daughter’s death, who drowned in a river. I thought the way the story painted the father-daughter relationship as he struggles to give his daughter the freedom she needs was very poignant and moving. The story did not always fit what my expectations were for it, which was a good thing because it avoided the predictable, just as real life tends to do.

Submission Period:

November 1 – April 15

For More Information

Blackbird

Website: blackbird.vcu.edu.

Barely South Review

The Barely South Review is an online journal published twice a year by students and faculty at the MFA program in Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. It was established fairly recently, in 2010. The review caught my eye with its elegant online display which allows you to flip through it like a print journal. These days, online presentation is becoming more and more important as print publication is increasingly less viable and less attractive for new journals. If the design of the website catches my eye, I’m more likely to continue reading to see if I also find the contents interesting.

Barely South publishes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction selections. They also publish the winners of the annual Norton Girault Literary Price and the American Academy of Poet’s University Prize. The review publishes both established and emerging writers and according to their website, they hope to “present many voices, especially those that defy easy regional, thematic, and stylistic categorization.” What I noticed from reading their latest issues is that they tend to publish fresh, youthful writing that reflects the spirit of American rural or suburban life. The selections in the review are not pretentious by any means, and they vary in tone from whimsical to painfully realistic. Some of the fiction, such as the story “The Oedipus Pact” by Brandon Bell in the Fall 2013 issue. Other writing is situated in a particular corner of American and reveals a glimpse into life in that area, such as the story “The Ecstatic Gringo” by Zachary Amendt in the spring 2013 issue, which depicts in gritty detail the impact of the economic collapse on one couple in Detroit.

I enjoyed the direct, crisp voice of the narrator in “The Oedipus Pact,” which I thought caught a concise snapshot of contemporary teenage-parent conflict. I also liked the story “Recipe for Everything” by Sarah Domet in the Spring 2013 issue, which tells the story of a pregnant woman who moves next door to a mysterious, exotic possible witch with a “recipe for everything.” The narrative combines neurotic voice of the anxious pregnant woman who has already lost four pregnancies to miscarriage with tangible sensory imagery evoked by the descriptions of the neighbor Yasamine’s spice recipes, creating a rich and fascinating tale.

The poetry in the review leans towards less experimental and more traditional poetry, mainly free verse, but the latest issues have featured some prose poems and other experimental forms. The themes on the poems vary widely, but most seems to connect to American life. The two poems by Maurice Emerson Decaul in the Spring 2013 issue struck me as fascinating. The author took slave narratives compiled from the Federal Works Project during the Great Depression and interpreted them in verse. I thought the poems displayed a unique way for a writer to preserving voices from the past while also placing his own creative mark on the narratives.

The nonfiction section contains mostly creative nonfiction essays. My favorite piece in the Fall 2013 issue was the essay “(Searching) Love, Lust, and I” by Garrett Dennert. The format, which is not quite an interview or a formula but something close, fits the piece well. The narrator, who is a young man trying to understand his past relationship’s failures and successes is searching for some kind of sense in his muddled love life, and his attempt to systematically address each issue, category by category, reflects his desperate grasping for meaning. In the end, the form does allow him to make some conclusions, but only ones that come too late. The story makes you wonder whether this type of introspective interrogation of the past does any good, since you only clearly see your mistakes in hindsight.

I offer one main critique to the editors the Barely South Review: if their goal is to really aim for a diverse group of voices, they should seek out a wider range of writers and poets from different backgrounds. The majority of the writing represented in the review reflected the contemporary economic and social realities of lower-to-middle-class whites. Overall, I thought the reviews’ selections displayed excellence and originality.

Submission Periods:

September 1 – November 30 for the Spring Issue

January 1 – March 31 for the Fall Issue

For More Information

The Barely South Review

Website: barelysouthreview.digitalodu.com

Welcome to LitBloom

As emerging writers learning to navigate the labyrinth of print and online journals that make up today’s literary world, we have created this website to guide others through the submissions process.

The first step to submitting one’s work (that is, after writing), is finding the right place to send it. On this site, we will highlight a wide spectrum of literary journals and magazines- including established print publications and prestigious online journals such as Tin House and Blackbird, as well as up-and-coming publications that often publish emerging writers. We hope to give writers a sense of the overall tone and focus of the journals, so that they can better find journals that interest them.

The best way to narrow down where to submit is to find places that publish work that fascinates you and that might be similar to your own writing. To all you emerging writers out there, we hope that this website helps you find a place for your voice to bloom. To all you editors of literary journals, especially ones who publish emerging writers’ work, whether you are based at a university, run by recent graduates, or staffed by literary enthusiasts, this is a great site for you to publicize your journal and connect with potential readers and contributors.

If you would like to suggest a literary journal to be spotlighted or if you have any questions, comments, or stories to share, you can contact us at litbloom@gmail.com.

We are currently seeking submissions for reviews of literary journals and stories of successful publications by emerging writers. For more information about submitting to LitBloom, please send us an email.