The Best Literary Magazines & Journalsby Beth Carswell
Much like the Times Literary Supplement or London Review of Books to the British, in North America, everyone knows about The New Yorker. From its masthead to its logo (the chap with the monocle in the top-hat and high-necked collar is named Eustace Tilley), it has become ubiquitously recognisable and iconic in its status, and is among the finest literary magazines in the world. The main goal of its founders - husband and wife team Harold Ross and Jane Grant - was to create a sophisticated forum for written humour, a way to enjoy wit and cleverness without resorting to the lowbrow toilet humour that was in such abundance.
Since 1925, it has maintained its high standards of excellency, striving to enrich readers with the greatest new and known voices the literary world has to offer. Over the last eight-plus decades, just some of the literary greats involved with the magazine in one way or another have included E.B. White, Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Butler Yeats, John Cheever, William Carlos Williams, Ogden Nash, Vladimir Nabokov, and many, many more. The issue released on December 21st, 1946, featured a story titled "Slight Rebellion off Madison" by a then virtually-unknown writer named J.D. Salinger.
The list goes on and on. The New Yorker is celebrated and revered, and through it all has given voice to countless new writerly talents, while continuing to be a place for wit and humour - and becoming famous for its cartoons. But while The New Yorker is unquestionably worthy of all the adulation, adoration and attention, there are innumerable literary magazines out there. Some, like The New Yorker and The Paris Review have long since hit their stride and are enjoying a place high up the literary ladder, and picking and choosing from mountains of eager submissions. Some have enjoyed moderate accolades and success, and published new writers who have gone on to win major literary prizes like the Pulitzer. And still others are small-time as yet, just waiting to be discovered, while helping discover young writers themselves, and giving a space to the up-and-comers.
We've put together a list of some of the best literary magazines and best literary journals going. It's just a drop in the bucket, though: if you're a reader, be sure to explore all the little-known magazines, journals and periodicals you can get your hands on. It's important to support these publications devoted to furthering the written word, celebrating excellence in poetry and prose, and making it possible for a lucky few to make a living writing, so we can read. And you never know - you just might discover a new favourite writer.
Literary Journals & Magazines
The Paris Review
You know this one. The Paris Review is one of the best-known and most highly-acclaimed literary magazines in the world. It began with a mind to celebrate writing more than critique it, and has done so since 1953.
Shenandoah was the brain-child of a group of students and staff at the Washington and Lee University, and began in 1950. It showcases stories, poetry, essays and reviews, many from highly influential literary names and prize-winners.
One of the oldest literary journals in Australia, Meanjin (which is the Australian Aboriginal word for the land where Brisbane is located) was founded in 1940. David Malouf, JM Coetzee and Kurt Vonnegut have all been published in Meanjin.
Another widespread, very successful example of a literary journal, Harper's has been steady since 1850 and boasts such legendary contributors as Noam Chomsky, John Steinbeck, Henry James, Horatio Alger and Naomi Klein.
Tin House is well-loved, in great part for its "New Voices" section, which exists solely to provide a space for previously unpublished writers. Many notable names such as Miranda July, Seamus Heaney, Davis Foster Wallace and Pablo Neruda have graced its pages.
Published by Boston University since 1972, AGNI has earned a loyal and devoted following. Past contributors include Joyce Carol Oates, Jhumpa Lahiri, Derek Walcott and many more.
Ploughshares was founded in an Irish-themed Massachussetts pub, The Plough and Stars, in 1971. Published three times annually, the magazine boasts an impressive contributor list and has become a staple in American contemporary literature.
McSweeney's Quarterly Concern
Edited by literary darling Dave Eggers, this quarterly began as a literary journal in 1998, and initially published only submissions rejected by other publications.
The Fiddlehead is Canada's longest-running literary journal, first published in 1945. The Fiddlehead publishes short stories, poems, book reviews, and the occasional personal essay. They also sponsor an annual writing contest.
Black Warrior Review
Since 1974, Black Warrior Review has devoted its pages to fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art from a variety of talented artists. Originally established by graduate students at the University of Alabama, it is published twice yearly.
The Atlantic Magazine
A giant on the list, The Atlantic has been going since 1857. It is among the most widely circulated (~400,000 readers), and is widely known for its exceptional content.
A Public Space
Published four times annually, this thought-provoking, independent magazine was founded in 2006, and still quite young is nevertheless formidable, and focuses on bravery and inclusiveness in its selections.
Published just twice yearly, Crazyhorse is eagerly anticipated and highly respected as one of the finest in the field. Its past issues have included work by Ha Jin, Raymond Carver, John Updike and W.P. Kinsella, to name a few.
Since 1976, Callaloo has worked to bring the voice of the black south out from under marginalisation, to the forefront of American literature. The journal is published on a quarterly basis and includes a wide variety of black writing selections.
The Hudson Review
A quarterly publication founded in 1947, The Hudson Review is heavily intellectual and literary in scope, and has published the likes of Allen Ginsberg and James Merrill.
Barrow Street is a dedicated poetry journal, established in August of 1998 and based in New York City. Poems from its pages have been included in several volumes of "The Best American Poetry".
A biannual American literary journal that has been publishing since 1981. It is eclectic and inclusive, welcoming submissions of poetry, fiction, exposition, drama, visual art and more, and gives preference the unusual and experimental.
Priding itself on being "personal, political and unpredictable", The Griffith Review is one of Australia's premier literary magazines, and has been igniting passionate conversation since its inception in 2003.
Founded by Cambridge students in 1889, Granta is the oldest publication on the list. Its early days included Sylvia Plath and A.A. Milne, and countless remarkable writers like Doris Lessing, Raymond Carver, Nadine Gordimer and more have graced its pages since.
First published in 1973, this Canadian gem started at two issues a year, then three, and has been a quarterly publication since 1981. It prides itself on giving space and light to fresh, eclectic art and literature.
This UK-based magazine has been dedicated to all things Beat Generation since 1988, when its founder wanted to make Beat information more accessible. Charles Bukowski contributed poems, including some unpublished elsewhere.
A journal of literature and art published three times yearly by Georgia State University, Five Points also puts out an annual poetry prize.
The Georgia Review
Published by the University of Georgia since 1947, the quarterly Georgia Review is among the most diverse and highly-respected literary journals in America, and gives equal voice to newcomers and established writers alike.
The Threepenny Review
Founded in 1980 in Berkley, California, The Threepenny Review has grown into a varied and eclectic American literary magazine, best known for its literary and cultural essays.
New England Review
Formerly known as New England Review & Bread Loaf Quarterly, this selection out of Middlebury College began in New Hampshire in 1978 and welcomes poetry, fiction and non-fiction submissions.