Literary Magazines Every Emerging Writer Should Read

Especially the uninspired, which unless you’re going through a writing streak (lucky you!), is most of us. Poets & Writers! Tin House! AGNI! Why should you care these magazines exist? Do you even care? I didn’t, once. But having since been liberated from sub-rock living, I’ve had the chance to read one clear and moving story after another, discover new writers, and learn about my own writing.

In general, writers who read books have a leg up on those who do not. Those reading-writers who read outside of one genre; the leg raises even higher. And those who read literary magazines; both legs fly in the air.  

I’ve mentioned before the value of reading work other writers are creating (and in turn, what publishers are currently reading) is priceless. Literary magazines are a world where short stories, poetry, and essays from emerging and experienced writers come together without judgement and create a mix of beautiful voices. The sweetest part? A lot of magazines regularly accept unsolicited submissions, so writers who may never have had the opportunity to be seen end up getting published.

Just like the blogosphere, literary magazines create community, discussion, and information exchange. Keeping this in mind, I compiled a list of magazines every emerging writer should read, love, hug, enjoy, feel a strange sense of jealousy towards, and learn the craft from. Although I refer to the print versions of these magazines most of these have the option to read online, making infinite entertainment and knowledge just a thumb tap away.

Tin House. Published four times a year.

For the writer seeking clear voice and quirky plots.

Tin House features short stories, essays, poetry, author interviews, book reviews, and a Lost and Found section that focuses on under appreciated books of the past. Publisher Win McCormack writes of the magazines creation, that he “wanted to create a literary magazine for the many passionate readers who are not necessarily literary academics or publishing professionals.” and he succeeded ten-fold. Tin House stays true to this by ensuring at least one undiscovered writer and poet is presented in each issue.

Poets & Writers. Published bimonthly.

For the writer seeking information on the ins and outs of the ‘industry’.

Contest deadlines, author interviews, stories, discussion articles on what’s new in the writing world, the information, tips from authors, support, and community P&W provides is endless. Their work is rooted in fostering “the professional development of poets and writers,  to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public.” They have a huge online presence where all of this information is much easier to funnel down and return to in this format, outlining the steps you could make towards turning your fun writing habit into a career.

Boulevard. Published three times a year.

For the writer interested in contemporary literature, arts, and culture.

Boulevard magazine publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and although names like John Updike are present in a long list of authors who have published work in this magazine,  Boulevard likes to see “less experienced or unpublished writers with exceptional promise.” Poetry and short story contests are held often, so it is easy to discover new authors with varied experience levels and backgrounds.

One story. Published eighteen times a year.

For writers looking for the great story.

One Story features one short story per issue, good enough to stand alone in a magazine. This means there is a lot of due diligence behind finding that story, and what is chosen is always top quality writing with clear voice, and a story that has never been told before. I especially recommend this for writers in a rut. Reading just one story and studying it, rather than reading one short after the other, can be a good technique for particular writers to learn.

AGNI. Published twice a year.

For the writer searching for meaning in stories.

Created by once aspiring writer, Askold Melnyczuk, AGNI aims to showcase a new generation of writers and visual artists, and is known for publishing well known writers at the start of their careers. Publications see “writers and artists hold a mirror up to nature, mankind, the world; they courageously reflect their age, for better or worse; and their work provokes perceptions and thoughts that help us understand and respond to our age.” AGNI pushes emerging writers to give context and meaning to their own work, and ask themselves “why?” rather than writing just for the sake of it.

Granta. Published four times a year.

For the writer with wanderlust.

Granta is so old they have published work from Sylvia Plath, but don’t let that scare you emerging writers away (after all, Plath was once considered ‘emerging’ at some point too, right? Right?!). Every issue has a particular theme and it’s great to see how each writer tackles the challenge. Focused in essays, photojournalism, contemporary realist fiction, and showcasing the best voices from around the world; the UK, US, Norway, Brazil, Japan, Spain, to name a few. Granta shows emerging writers a global perspective when it comes to storytelling and observing the world around us. 

All of these magazines are just the very limited few emerging writers should consider buying/downloading and giving a long read, whether you’re trying to learn about writing, the industry, or just find new and interesting voices. Let me know in the comments what magazines you would add to this list! Are you already addicted to any of these publications? Do you remember any particular literary magazines that helped you develop as a writer?

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