Have you noticed how many literary magazines there are out there now ? I have about a year’s worth of four or five great lit. magazines stacked up on my desk that I keep meaning to get to. But what about all the mediocre magazines, and all the really crappy magazines? Who’s reading them all?
Lots of people gripe about the proliferation of MFA programs. I think we can all agree that the same thing has happened with literary magazines. Poets need to get poems published so they can get books published and then get tenure-track jobs at universities. I suppose fiction writers do the same thing. Meanwhile, young wanna-be editors need to start tiny journals so that they can get jobs editing bigger journals, or maybe even small presses. The result is an unholy number of new magazines and journals popping up each year, as anybody who’s braved the AWP book fair can attest.
Some of these tiny start-up magazines turn out to be totally awesome and/or radical and/or cutting edge and are doing really fun, exciting, hip things and publishing really innovative and moving writing. Some of them are total duds that never go anywhere. Who is reading thos e? What are we doing with literary magazines that we don’t read? What do we do with all those paper bound journals after we’ve finished reading them?
I once had some poems published in a newsprint style journal and they sent me fifty motherflipping copies. They arrived on my porch in a big cardboard box with no warning, and a note inside asking me to distribute them in coffee shops and bookstores. They sat on my bookshelf for a year before I took them the grad. student lounge at my overly-proliferating creative writing program and left them on a coffee table where, I’m sure, somebody eventually picked them up and recycled them. More detritus of the creative writing machine, I suppose.
Look, poets and fiction writers, what paper magazines are you still reading ? What journals do you think are new and hot and full of joie de vivre? And what is the proper etiquette for getting rid of them after you’ve finished reading? Is there some designated recycling depository like the one for old batteries?