We are so excited that Split Lip PRINT 2 is coming into the world this month, and to get ready, we are celebrating all things print! We asked PRINT 2 contributors what was the first print journal they remembered reading, or a print story, poem, or essay they'd recommend to someone.
My first poetry professor used to hand out her contributors' copies like candy, so I honestly can't remember the first lit mag I read. I do remember Marilyn Nelson handing me the latest issue of Connecticut Review and suggesting I submit something (she was a visiting professor my senior year of college, for which I will be forever grateful).
My first lit journal experience was reading Sycamore Review as an undergrad at Purdue. Found a copy left behind in a classroom, cracked it open, and was transported by the stories and poems.
I remember it was a copy of Zoetrope. I'd stumbled into Skylight Books in LA and found it on their shelves.
Aaron El Sabrout
The first print literary journal I remember reading is the Warren Review, my university's publication for undergraduate literary writing and creative scholarship. (Full disclosure: I was the gender studies editor for a time.) It was really cool to see a publication featuring undergrad work, run by undergrads, that was still full of innovative, experimental, super cool work. I still read it and keep up with their writers even though I graduated a few years ago.
A poem I would recommend from a print journal to literally everyone is "Of Darker Ceremonies" by Phillip B. Williams (Poetry, 2013). I've been thinking a lot lately about how to write poetry that feels urgent to real social situations while still having rhythm and vision and killer imagery and I think this poem really nails it.
The first print journal I remember reading was the Paris Review. I had never seen anything like it. It felt so fancy and high-brow, yet very accessible and contemporary.
You know, I don't remember the first print journal I read—and this Spring I'm in Michigan (away from my pile of books), so I also fail at recommending an exact poem or essay. BUT when I think "omg I must hold this in my hands," I think Bone Bouquet (they have that beautiful, almost pocket-sized journal); Ninth Letter (because everyone likes Ninth Letter? the way they continually re-visualize print is inspiring); Paper Darts (seriously, kills me).
I’m going to go (very) old school and recommend a story from StoryQuarterly 29 (1993): Peter Christopher, “Hey, Diane, This Is Me Getting My Life Together and the Little Advice I Can Give to You is Forget the Beef Jerky, No Shit, Really.” This story—written in the form of a grocery receipt that spans two printed pages—is decades ahead of its time: flash fiction before flash fiction was a “thing,” a fictional artifact that anticipates our current fascination with fiction as a kind of nonfictional found footage. Besides completely messing with the tidy narrative template I had mistaken for Literature early in my graduate career, “Hey Diane” introduced me to the work of Peter Christopher, whose 1989 debut, Campfires of the Dead, should be required reading for fans of voice-driven narrative.