We’d like to invite editors and writers to participate in our new series on issues and representations of race, class, gender, and sexuality in independent publishing. How do these issues affect you as an literary magazine editor interested in publishing underrepresented communities, or a writer who wants to challenge dominant notions of identity? What are your thoughts, concerns, ideas about how literary communities reinforce, respond to, and confront racism, classicism, sexism, and homophobia? Contact Marcelle Heath at

"Little magazines are the furnace where American literature is being forged."

George Hitchcock, Editor of Kayak (1964-1984)


SERIES: Race, Class, Gender & Sexuality in Indie Publishing

You Girls (pt. 2)
By Helen Sedgwick

"As an editor, I would not publish a piece of writing that contained attitudes I find unacceptable anymore than I would publish a story that I thought was badly written."

You Girls (pt. 1)
By Kirsty Logan

"As an editor, I do not care about writers' gender or sexuality; I'm just interested in exciting short fiction. But I'm a woman and I'm queer and I'm a feminist. As such, I'm more likely to be interested in characters that I can identify with and themes that I agree with."

Questions of Authenticity
By Michael Copperman

"The question of authenticity, then, especially authorial authority conferred on the basis of phenotype or racial background, is the wrong line of inquiry."

Community and the Body
By Sherisse Alvarez

"My work has appeared in various publications interested specifically in issues of identity. I still struggle at times with the notion of the “mainstream,” how my work relates or does not relate to the canon."

Jarrett Haley, BULL: Fiction for Thinking Men
With Jarrett Haley

"That I am not a sociologist or gender-studier by trade I should make clear to begin with."

I Don't Know How to Write About Race
By Roxane Gay

"This is only about race."


Megan M. Garr, Versal

Jarrett Haley, BULL: Fiction for Thinking Men

Laura van den Berg, Part II

Laura van den Berg, Part I

Allison Seay, The Greensboro Review

Mary Miller

Eilis O'Neal, Nimrod International

Erin Fitzgerald, Northville Review

Don Bogen, Cincinnati Review

Andrew Porter

Nam Le

Benjamin Percy


Luna Digest, 1/5

"One of the more interesting literary magazine discussions to come about in recent months has happened via email, twitter feeds, and blogs about Andrew Whitacre’s post titled “The End of the Small Print Journal. Please.” on the identity theory editors’ blog."

Luna Digest, 12/15

"The Atlantic Monthly decides not only to be the first magazine to sell single short stories for the Kindle, but they will also charge 4 times as much as One Story does for a single story. And One Story will actually print the story out and mail it to your house."

Luna Digest, 12/8

"Today’s the day The San Francisco Panorama from McSweeney’s hits the streets. The idea is to put out an exciting newspaper edition to show the power of the medium in a world of declining newspaper publishing incentives."

Luna Digest, 12/3

"For most people who read fiction and spend much time online, this won’t be news: Electric Literature recently twittered the entirety of Rick Moody’s story “Some Contemporary Characters” over three days with the assistance of several co-publishers, of which Luna Park was one."

Luna Digest, 11/24

"I’ve been stumbling across some great excerpts recently from David Shields’s upcoming book Reality Hunger: A Manifesto..."

Luna Digest, 11/17

"Just how much did Salman Rushdie have to do with Alex Clark’s resignation from Granta? (Nothing at all, according to him.)"


Strong Recommendations
By Greg Weiss

"I had the feeling, when I finished reading, that I had been spending my time well, not just in relation to the time that I had actually spent reading it, but more generally. And I often don’t feel that way."

By David Backer

"But then I read the other stories and felt the good things they have to offer. I felt their quanta of colors and semantics congealing together and I began to like it. Because, to some degree, this is how we experience life: through concatenations of colors and emotions and words, mixtures stippling into the stories of our existences."

Between Earnestness & Irony
By Greg Weiss

"The largest problem with irony as a dominant literary device is that, similarly to Surrealist painting, it is easy to do fairly well but very difficult to do greatly."

People Like People
By David Backer

"After reading a lot of online fiction last month, I'm noticing something: people like people. People like reading about people, anyway."

The Cellist's Disorientation

"I would like to believe that in the midst of loneliness and worry (the anxious, questioning voice at the end) the world feels perfectly made for us and that we assist in its making."

There Is No Visible Circus

"Jennifer Atkinson's "A Leaf from the Book of Cities"— an ekphrastic poem written after Paul Klee's painting of the same name—caught my attention in the most recent issue of Cave Wall..."

Panorama Week Part 5: All the News

Panorama Week Part 4: The Comics

Panorama Week Part 3: Section One (or The News)

Panorama Week Part 2: The Book Review of the Future?

Panorama Week Part 1: Opening the Package

Teachers: Use Literary Magazines
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"Before I go any further, I should admit that I could be doing a much better job in my financial support of literary magazines....but those who have worked in public education know the difficulties of working within community-voted budgets.  Literary magazine subscriptions at the classroom level are an educational luxury, not a need.  But that’s not a sufficient excuse."

Aiming High: The Impossible Ambitions of Versal
By Sam Ruddick

"I have no experience with gorilla suits or child soldiering, myself, but I think it’s reasonable to suspect that standing around in a gorilla suit is better than being coerced into shooting people, or getting shot at."

Espresso Book Machine
By Marcelle Heath

"On Demand Books's digital photocopier, book trimmer and binder, and desktop computer that can produce a trade paperback book in five to ten minutes."

Poets Publishing Poets: A Review of Cave Wall 5
By George Held

"When a young prize-winning poet decides to publish her own poetry journal, readers get to see how her taste compares to her talent."

I Don't Know How to Write About Race
By Roxane Gay

"This is only about race."

Interview with Former Greensboro Review Poetry Editor Alison Seay
By Jordan Elliott

"I don't know that it's a matter of being comfortable in our skin as much as it is our belief in the importance of the tangible book."

On Nimrod International: An Interview & Notes
By Jeffrey Tucker

"For poetry, we dislike poems that are actually more like journal entries rather than poems. For fiction, we see a lot of stories that are really just “talking heads,” stories in which people stand around and talk and yet nothing happens."

Dismissing Africa
By Greg Weiss

"One of the many risks of Witness, 'the magazine of the Black Mountain Institute,' presenting an issue dedicated to the theme of Dismissing Africa is that the very notion of dismissing 'Africa' already dismisses the individuals who live in Africa."

Poets and Prose: Gerard Manley Hopkins and Fiction Theory
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"Robert Olen Butler is careful in his definition...he is not arguing that yearning is individual to the short short story form. Rather, yearning is endemic to fiction."

Literary Magazines in Peril?
By Travis Kurowski

"At least part of the problem is the usual one: All of these magazine have no doubt a vastly greater number of people desiring to be published in their pages than they have readers willing to financially support their endeavors."

Interview: Erin Fitzgerald, Northville Review
By Marcelle Heath

"I like when someone's very quietly or very openly fooling with an emotional manipulation dial."
"While my stories aren't autobiographical, I really do believe in the whole write-what-you-know thing. One time I wrote a story from the point of view of an old sick man and it was just terrible. It was like really bad Carver. The man sat around watching daytime television and eating pie."

Sort-of Prose Poems
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"James Harms offers a contemplative effort in a lean essay that turns the prose poem discussion in a noteworthy direction..."

Poetry 2.0
By Marcelle Heath

"Setting aside, for now, its ideological nomenclature, its appeal lies in the interpretative dynamic between text and image..."

Greetings from Knockout
By Brett Ortler

"We started KO because we wanted to try something that was different than we'd seen in other literary magazines, both in terms of thematic slant and in terms of mission..."
"He said that if he were asked to be poetry editor of a magazine, he would aim for unity. I told him that was more or less the exact opposite of what I wanted to do..."

Bon Voyage
By Marcelle Heath

"I imagine party-goers huddled around a fire pit as they share stories about stalking a would-be lover..."

In Brief: The Appeal of Brevity
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"Contemporary flash fiction has been slugged, whipped, and slapped: dragged through the literary mud, pegged as incidental..."
"Kayla Soyer-Stein recreates the wonderful magic and sense of the uncanny that fairy tales offer..."
"Recently I won a best humorous poem competition, and it appears I have a knack for healthy self-ridicule..."
"I think about that a lot—about the balance of light and dark and about allowing my characters to have an open destiny. I think that’s one of the most important aspects of story writing..."
"It calls itself the 'farthest north literary journal for writing and the arts,' which sounded a bit suspicious to me, so I did a little poking around to verify the assertion..."

Some Thoughts on Poetry
By Ben Leubner

"The history of Poetry is a history of resistance in all directions..."
"The 1990s was a wild, wonderful, idealistic decade in Prague. Excellent exchange rates and the possibility of a relatively uninhibited way of life lured expatriates in droves to the Czech capital. In short, it was the perfect time for the founding of a literary journal..."
"One author climbs to the top of a tree trunk support beam that’s part of the architecture of the writing space. Another is balancing a couch cushion on his head and explaining wog: a dog who uses a dog-sized wheel chair to get his back end around San Francisco..."

Avian Arts: The LBJ
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"While literary niches often result in suffocation, eighty pages of plaid, The LBJ’s aviary focus proves malleable enough..."

The 7th Annual New Orleans Bookfair
By Kenneth Harshbarger

“'In consideration of what looks like a total collapse of our economic system,' he said, 'I thought the bookfair went very well...'"
"There are two wooden figures on my husband’s desk. Figurines. They are meant to resemble humans, black humans. African-Americans..."

Interview with Editors of The Lumberyard:
Jen Woods and Eric Woods


Jen Woods joyfully serves as Associate Editor for Sarabande Books, an independent literary press in Louisville, KY, where she resides with her two magic dobermans, Henri and Taylor. Additionally she is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Lumberyard magazine:

Eric Woods is the founder of The Firecracker Press, a design studio and letterpress shop located in the heart of historic St. Louis. The Firecracker Press combines the use of centuries old printing methods with the latest modern design techniques to create unique objects that people enjoy and love. His website is:


Luna Park: First off, I want to mention how excited we were at Luna Park—we being our managing editor and myself—when we received the first issue of Lumberyard in the mail this past January. It arrived the day before we were to depart for the AWP conference in New York, so I grabbed it, along with ten or so other literary magazines, for the plane ride. I never got to the other magazines. During the flight, I reread Lumberyard at least twice, even reading some poems aloud every so often. Already impressed by the letterpress production quality of Lumberyard when I first saw it, I was additionally pleased with the energetic, playful, and moving selection of poems inside—and more, how well they seemed to coincide with the overall design. What led you, along with your brother, to bring about Lumberyard? Why did you think (thankfully, I might add) that another literary magazine needed to be added to the mix?

Jen Woods: Wow, thanks for such a complimentary first question Naturally, we couldn’t be happier to hear people have such a reaction. This may sound a little corny, but I feel like Lumberyard was inevitable. Or maybe I should say that a long series of events led up to the moment when the concept came to mind and I instantly knew we had to do it. Now that Lumberyard exists, it feels like an old friend. My brother and I are very close in age, only 15 months apart, and we’ve been collaborating in some way our whole lives. His visual artistry has always caused me to gasp, as if someone crawled in my head and drew a picture of what it is that goes on up there, so I was fascinated by how our two art forms might work together. We didn’t really consider how many other magazines might be already doing similar things—we just went with it. It was the only time in my life I let my intuition completely guide the process, and the night I got the email containing the proofs of the first issue, I nearly passed out. It hit the bull’s eye and I knew it didn’t matter if anyone else liked the thing—I was more content than I had ever been.

LP: It feels that the design of the magazine complements, or somehow matches, the poetry you publish in it. For example, the rhythms and emotions of Matthew Lippman’s opening poem “Moses”—which begins “Mike Goldstein is a bitch,” devolving then into a both tragic and touching description of, of all things, a bagel shop—seems to grow out of the surrounding page, where things seem perfectly haphazard, everything in a constant state of revision: organized chaos. Do you see a similar merging of the poetry and design of Lumberyard? Is this part of your larger project for the magazine?

JW: One of our main goals was to make the text and the design seamless, which we found out, is no simple task. We wanted both art forms to complement one another in the highest way. It was important that one didn’t overshadow the other but instead created a perfect union, making both all the better for having been paired. In other words, everything they tell you about the ideal marriage would also apply to our project.

LP: Could you describe briefly what Lumberyard is looking for in writing. What is the general aesthetic, if there is one? It seems you are looking to publish poetry that feels alive, unafraid to take risks.

JW: This is a tough question. Although I personally have a very distinct aesthetic, I try not to let my own taste rule the roost. I imagine different types of people I know and then think, “What would it take to get X interested in reading a poem?” Then we start looking through the submissions to see if there are any strong pieces matching said criteria. Next, I rope a few friends in to reading the initial picks, and these are all people who don’t read poetry on a normal basis, so their opinions are very meaningful to our mission. Overall, I would say we’re looking for work that is trapped in the world of “things.” We like honest, we like poems rich with smell and sound and touch, dirty, stinky poems, poems that sing, and poems that make you laugh out loud are always welcome! And, of course, we have to consider how a poem will work when combined with design. Longer poems are usually not feasible, but then again, we are always open to a new challenge or a new way of putting things together, so if we really like a piece, we’ll find a way. In the first issue, I fell in love with the “letter never sent” written by K. Curtis Lyle. It was too long, but we had to have it, so we just decided to honor it for what it was, and the result was the letter inserted in the middle, printed on regular paper, like a guerilla attempt to get a correspondence to President Lincoln. It was one of my favorite moments.

LP: In a letter you enclosed with your first issue you wrote that “we hope to bring some of the ridiculously good poets working today to the attention of the general public.” Why do you think that such poets are out there not getting their work published? It seems there are almost more literary magazines than writers today (or that every writer has their own literary magazine). Is it just the nature of publishing for there to always be good writing not getting a voice?

JW: What I meant by that statement was not to say good poets aren’t getting published—many are, and I have to give props to my day job at Sarabande, where I work with a wonderful gang of folks dedicated to just that. However, the everyday people I know, or the people in my life who aren’t “in the biz” aren’t buying these books, aren’t reading this work. Poetry is a genre the general public has lost affection for, in my humble opinion, because they don’t think poetry is for them. There’s a prevailing attitude that it’s not accessible to most people, which I think is totally untrue. We hope the format for Lumberyard will help warm people up to the idea of poetry again, the way it once was the song of the masses. For example, maybe you pick Lumberyard up because your eye is drawn to the imagery and discover a poem inside does speak to you, does make sense, and most certainly has something to offer. And maybe it’s the first time you’ve read a poem since your high school English class. Our dream is to have every mom and pop hardware store in America carrying our magazine. If we achieved anything close to this, I think I would feel our real mission was realized.

LP: On a more pragmatic note, what did it take to put the first issue together? The issue is gorgeous, but also seems simple in its construction—is this just the deception of good design? Also, as you and Eric live in different cities, how do you work together in deciding how the issue is going to end up? Plus, you two each seem to have full-time careers—Eric as owner of The Firecracker Press and you as an Associate Editor at Sarabande Books. In other words: When do you two sleep?

JW: Ha! My current line when asked the last question about when I sleep is that I’m saving up for retirement. In all seriousness, putting the mag together takes a good deal of elbow grease. Both my brother and I are drawn to getting our hands dirty, and his design and letterpress business is the epitome of this. Every technique used in construction is as old school as we could get, every page has a very human touch. I hope that comes across when you pick up the magazine. There is a good deal of back and forth travel between our two cities, but it helps to work with a sibling. We often don’t need to communicate as much as you might with, say, coworkers, because we’ve been sharing creative thoughts for three decades now. There is an innate trust and respect that makes creating the magazine more like pure joy and less like work.

LP: Are you or Eric big readers of literary magazines? Which are your favorites at the moment?

JW: Me more so than my brother, but one of the cool things that has come about from his bookmaking jobs at Firecracker is that he’s discovering poetry for the first time, and, I think, we are slowly winning him over. I have to throw some attention at the fine folks at Forklift, Ohio, and Diagram. Oh—and I can’t forget Born Magazine. I recently discovered Agriculture Reader much to my delight. And thanks to a former professor of mine, I’m enjoying reading vintage issues of kayak, which are a total kick.

LP: Do either of you feel you are working off of any publishing influences in creating Lumberyard? Lumberyard has the feel of some of the modernist literary magazines, like Blast or Egoist, combined with the DIY style design elements of a zine. Or, are you working off of other publishing/design influences outside the literary magazine world, such as rock show posters or graffiti?

JW: If I had to say, it would be more the latter. As I mentioned earlier, when we started we actually did the opposite of research, cutting ourselves off for the most part as to what was going on in the lit mag world, so as to not be unduly influenced. What does influence us—and this is a relatively new realization for me—is our childhood. The Firecracker Press does a lot of rock show posters inspired by everyday images from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, before design became the chi-chi practice we know now. Those are the images from our 1970s childhood. And for me, I’m always looking to recreate the magic I felt as a kid when I would open a book at the local library. The fascination came equally from the text and the images, and I have memories from as early as four years old, in the library, seeking out books with Caldecott Medals on them. Of course, I had no idea it was an award for an illustrator. Back then I just knew the medal equaled good and that books were a portal into a much larger world I couldn’t see from rural Missouri. There’s no reason why adults can’t enjoy the same kind of experience when they read. Why should kids have all the fun?

LP: Are there any writers you would—say—give up a kidney for to get some work from them for an issue of Lumberyard?

JW: Man, I don’t know; I’m pretty partial to my kidney! Honestly, we’ve been lucky so far with the poets who have agreed to work with us—it’s hard to imagine wanting for more. I’m sure I could give you a list of people, but they would all be pretty a-typical, and maybe some of them don’t even write poetry in their spare time the way I imagine they do. My aunt, for one, who I’m pretty certain has a secret collection of poems she’s written and never shown anyone. Next would have to be David Bowie (if you’re reading this, Mr. Bowie, we’ll do it under a pen name and no one will ever have to know but me). And this young woman, Rachel, who was in my creative writing class in college and one day just disappeared. She used to write the most beautiful, gut-wrenching poems I ever remember reading. All the time I wonder what happened to her and her talent.

LP: Finally, what can you tell us about your upcoming summer issue? And, more, do you have any long-term plans? Such as, in its first issue, Tin House published a satiric ten-year plan or something, mapping out the future of the magazine. What do you see down the road for Lumberyard?

JW: Of course, I’m biased, but I’m pretty sure the next issue is going to be one heck of a great time. We got tons of submissions about love and sex (I think it was because it was February when they came in), so I predict a sprinkle or two of scandalous behavior. A few more laughs can be expected, I suppose. If you’re looking for names, I won’t tell. Some you’ll recognize, some you won’t. Since we’re in the process of creation at this very moment, all I can say for certain is that I’m very excited about this next evolution of Lumberyard. As for the future, that’s up to the public. We’ll keep working to get the word out about our project, and, as long as there is a demand, we’re dedicated to continuing, hopefully getting better each time. We have lots of wish-list ideas up our sleeve, but I don’t want to jinx any of them by shooting off about it prematurely. Right now we’re just staying in this wonderful moment, enjoying the fact that we get to do something we love.



mcsweeney's 32

Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern 32; Editor: Dave Eggers; Published: San Francisco; Est: 1998.

Luna Digest on Fictionaut Blog every Tuesday:

Fictionaut Blog


Joseph Brodsky's literary executor launches new poetry magazine: Little Star

New lit mag: Artifice

New indie publishing wiki is launched by Dave Housley and Roxane Gay

CLMP's Lit Mag Adoption Program for Creative Writing Students

Upcoming Creative Nonfiction redesign

Galley Cat says Rick Moody's Twitter story generates Twitter backlash

"Fictionaut and the Future of the Literary Journal" at Galleycat

More editors leave Granta after magazine "restructuring"

Trailer for Colson Whitehead's short story "The Comedian" from Electric Literature #2

McSweeney's offers preview of their upcoming newspaper issue, the SF Panorama

On the lit blog Bookish Us: “Why Don’t Aspiring Writers Read More Literary Magazines”



Opium magazine Literary Death Match: NYC, San Fran, Denver, Beijing, etc [ongoing series]

One Story cocktail hour at Pianos, New York City [ongoing series]

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