Youth-Led Journals

Image credit: Sandra Bisotti

If you’re on Twitter and you follow different writers and journals, you will find that there are folks of all ages interacting across different generations, sharing their passion of writing and literature. As a high school teacher, I try to encourage my own students to write and read literature, so it warms my heart every time I see that there are high school students discussing submissions to literary journals or even leading editorial teams. The great thing about the diversity of literary journals on the internet is that these young authors, whether they are in high school or in early adulthood, have the opportunity to shoot their shot to the most prestigious journals, but they also have spaces dedicated to them and their writing.

There are several different types of journals that cater to youth, and they all define youth slightly differently. Some are well-established national publications that have moved into the online world, such as Teen Ink. (Fun fact: my first ever publication was in Teen Ink- I got a college essay about having tea time with my friends published. Ironically, I did not get into the college that I applied to using that essay). There are other journals that aren’t aimed at publishing young writers but offer opportunity for students and youth in general such as Peach Mag, which offers an internship for editors, The Adroit Journal, which offers a mentorship program (applications are open until March 22), and Polyphony Lit, which offers high school students editing opportunities, and more.

These opportunities for students just starting their literary careers to receive advice and training are great, but what I find even more exciting are the journals created and run by youth. These journals may only accept submissions from youth or they may be open to the general public, but their backbone are the young editors who are enacting their exciting creative visions. Here are a few youth-led publications which also are aimed at young writers and readers.

Clandestine Lit

Clandestine Lit published its first issue, Blossom, in February, and is currently accepting submissions in both prose and poetry from authors age 13-22. Some pieces I enjoyed from its first issue include the haunting poem, “asylum” by Abdulmueed Balogun, and, “tonight the sunset” by Emily Norton, which has really cool spacing and rhythm, and “the girl without hands” by Dana Blatte, which unspools a chilling fairy tale in verse.

The Augment Review

The Augment Review is another recently founded youth-led journal. It recently published its first issue, Indulge. They accept poetry, prose, art, and photography from artists between the ages of 13 and 25. They are open to submissions for their next issue, Pierce. In the first issue I enjoyed the poem, ” 2009″ by Allision Stein, which filled me with nostalgia for my own childhood. I also liked, “to the girl who finds paintings in locker 312” by Emma Chan and the backstory behind it. Finally, the poem, “Indulge Yourself” by Naoise Gale was raw and gutting. The Augment Review includes artists statements with all of its pieces, which gives some interesting insight into the work and also is a cool way for young aspiring writers to see inside the heads of other artists like them. They also provide both verbal inspiration (a list of words), visual inspiration (a Pinterest board), and musical inspiration (a Spotify playlist) to their would-be submitters.

Paper Crane

Paper Crane Journal only accepts work from people under 20 years old. They accept poetry, prose, and art, and are currently open to submissions for their issue Flight. On their website, they have a super comprehensive resources page with links to writing resources especially aimed at newcomers to the literary scene. I really liked two prose pieces from their volume Beginnings: “Leaving Homes” by Jyotsa Nair which is about the narrator’s family fleeing the UK after the India/Pakistan Partition and “Imprinted” by Tyler Godsey-Kellog, which is a more experimental piece reflecting on childhood memories. I also liked the poem, “Love Letter for a Bygone Jurassic” by Rena Su.

Blue Marble Review

Blue Marble Review is a more established outlet for young writers, but its editors are all students from the Minnetonka Writing Center. The journal, which is celebrating its five-year anniversary by publishing an anthology, accepts work from writers aged 13-22. They currently are publishing stories about the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on youth, but they also accept general poetry and prose. Significantly, they pay their writers $25 per piece!

Much of their most recent issue documents the impact this past year had on young people. The essay, “2020 Grads: We Will be Okay” by Hannalee Isaacs resonated with me since last year was my first year of teaching high school, and I never had a chance to say goodbye to my first graduating class. The poem, “Letter from Mateo in Portland to Stella in Cleveland” by Mateo Sifuentes reflects on the experience of living in Portland in the past year, during a pandemic, protests, and wildfires. I also liked the lyrical fiction piece, “Sundays,” by Amy Wang which captures grief and the hurt of covering it up.

Love Letters Magazine

Finally, Love Letters Magazine is a journal for teens with a twist: it focuses on the heart. They accept work from teens age 14-19, and they publish poetry, prose, op-eds, songs, art, and photography. Each of their issues focuses on an aspect of love. Some of their latest posts that I enjoyed included the story “Sleepwalking,” by Ash Reynolds, which almost felt like a fairy tale or a fable. The “how to” style poem, “how to settle into joy/ how to create joy” by Amy Carranza made me smile and recall simple pleasures. I loved the essay, “Something Special About Staria Ace” by Reyna Ace, a eulogy to the writer’s cat, because what can I say? I love cats, and this piece struck a chord with me.

Even if you’re not a young writer yourself, I encourage you to check out the words the next generation are sending out into the world. After reading these journals, I feel inspired and refreshed to dive back into my own writing, even though I’m definitely a few years past the age limit of these journals.

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