Writing into the wider world.
Fifty years ago, if you were writing personally into the social and political issues of the moment, then the literary journals at universities were not where you would submit your stories and poems. Some writers created what are now well known literary journals in opposition to an elitism they saw coming out of those institutional quarterlies, and to publish their friends. But that has all changed over recent decades, and now if you are writing personal poems that engage with civil and human rights, as well as justice, you may find a match at the journals that reside in creative writing programs and English departments. They aren’t all the same. Consider the perspectives about what makes a poem or story at particular programs. Notice who they publish, and when. Consider the tone or mood, not just the voice, topics, or style. In recent years, I’ve read some poetry at The Georgia Review that has a sense of wonder or discovery, while at The Massachusetts Review, poems depicting devastating loss. Both perspectives offered memorable and moving poems, quite differently. For this issue, let’s look at poetry and fiction at AGNI, edited out of Boston University, and J Journal, out of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, each of which are very clear about the topics they want to read.
To prevent this newsletter from rambling into the night, I’m going to point out certain features of a few specific works in each genre at each journal, and not everything there is to see, then nudge you towards reading others.