We loved seeing so many of you at AWP19, and what better time to continue our celebration of all things print?! More Split Lip PRINT 2contributors are back with stories of the first print journal they remembered reading, or a print story, poem, or essay they'd recommend to someone:
Rachel Mans McKenny
My first print journal was the Alaska Quarterly. I was at a Barnes and Noble in the middle of Pennsylvania and probably fifteen years old.
Sara La Cotti
The first print literary journal I remember reading was Whiskey Island Magazine. I received a free copy through my creative nonfiction workshop at Cleveland State University my senior year. I adore the cover art and was inspired to explore new print journals and see how different every literary magazine made their print copies.
The first print literary magazine I remember reading was Forklift Ohio issue #21; the cover was found material that looked like it was used for packaging, and it was bound with big, industrial staples. A friend had gone to AWP for the first time and brought back this one treasure. I borrowed it for a few days, and I remember pacing in my room reading the poems aloud, intermittently bursting into laughter because my mind was breaking open to the possibilities of what poetry could do. I don't think I "understood" a single poem, but I could hear them and see them. I knew it was the start of something.
The first journal I read was The Wormwood Review, which ran from the fall of 1959 through April 1999. Alan Kaufman, who edited The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, called it "the greatest little magazine of all time." I was a senior in college, and I thought, "Hmm, my poems are as good as these," so I sent them a batch, and they took one. That was my first publication.
Valorie K. Ruiz
There are so many amazing print journals and one I always highly recommend is The Black Warrior Review. I have a soft spot for story telling so I'd totally recommend Laura Villareal's "8 chickens in a papier mache human: a bedtime story" from their 45.1 issue. It's a beautiful poem that's crafted in a way that collapses deeper at every line break. As far as fiction I absolutely adore "Peach" published in Carve Magazine's last year's spring issue by Thomas Gresham. This is a story that lures you in. It's layered in meaning to the point where even the most quiet moments hit a feeling buried and previously unregistered. These are two pieces I turn to frequently when I want to remember how much I love powerful storytelling. One final recommendation would be "Deers" by Antonio Ruiz-Camacho published inStory Quarterly specifically because it shows that a story can be told in so many different ways and that it's a writer's duty to portray the story the way it needs to be portrayed without pushing just for the traditional.
As a middle schooler, I knew a girl in her senior year of high school who was, of course, infinitely cooler than me. She had had a few pieces of short fiction published online and in print magazines, and her holy grail print journal at the time was ZYZZYVA, which is based in San Francisco and still publishes a significant number of emerging writers. I asked my grandparents for a subscription for Christmas one year, and had it sent to my mom's house up until the year I graduated high school. It was my first entrance into a contemporary literary scene, and I was very, very lucky to have access to such a world at that age.
The first print journal I ever read was an issue of Glimmer Train at Barnes and Noble. I didn't know such a thing existed before then - magazines for stories and poems!
The first print journal I remember reading was actually a handful of them--in college I took a poetry workshop with a professor who would bring in boxes of old contributor's copies to donate to his under-read students. I remember Crazyhorse, Pleiades, Copper Nickel, and thinking, "Wait, people read?"
Can I also recommend a print journal story? This might be cheating, because I was there, but when I worked at Epoch we published a story by Holly Goddard Jones called "One For the Road," and it's just a masterpiece of terrifying realism. One of those stories that seems simple enough on the surface, but underneath there's a writhing mass of tension and ambiguity. I still think about the ending.
There is a really good record store in the town where I live, and they had lots of journals and zines when I was going to college and grad school in the 90s. I can remember getting really into Daniel Clowes' Eightball (though it's not a lit mag) and just loving the interesting weirdness of the characters he created. I also remember when the 20 Under 30 anthology came out and feeling this crazy urgency about achieving success at a young age, which somehow led me to being obsessed withGranta. But probably the first actual lit mag I had my hands on was either Story or one of the ones produced where I went to college,Cottonwood or Kiosk.