I'm Leaving on a Lit Mag Plane!
C & R Press sends a letter; Catapult closes without warning, funding sources are questioned; Bear Creek Gazette closes without warning; Ambit announces closing; jobs for writers; more...
Welcome to our bi-weekly news roundup!
Greetings Lit Magicians,
Big weekend for news in the world of lit mags, eh? To everyone who shared this piece, reached out to me, left comments here, told stories of your own—thank you. It’s great to hear from every single one of you. Please continue to share your experiences and to speak up!
Speaking of speaking up, C & R Press sent out an email over the weekend to their mailing list. I was not privy to the email, which was signed by “Andrew+John,” but it was shared with me by someone who received it.
Here are a few highlights, along with my own observations.
Pardon me, sirs, but please do not call my writing “junk.”
“The letter” refers to the one they sent to readers. As for “what good can come of this,” it seems to me a great deal of good already has come from this. Writers are talking to one another, asking questions, and cultivating an awareness around what to look for when determining trustworthy places to submit their writing.
“The writer” is presumably I. “No attempt…was made to contact the press” is both verifiably and laughably false. Did they even read the article?
Who knows. Their email is long, full of emotional language and arguably in need of a few good editors.
Unfortunately for them, it appears that several editors left the press over the weekend.
Moving along, even more lit mag news broke last week.
Catapult announced that it will be closing its online journal and writing classes.
Actually, technically, that’s incorrect. Catapult did not make the announcement to the public. Publishers Weekly did:
“Catapult has announced that it will shutter its eponymous online magazine and writing classes program. The decision comes as part of an effort to "focus all resources on its core business of book publishing and its three imprints: Catapult, Counterpoint, and Soft Skull Press."
Catapult publisher Alyson Forbes said in a statement: “This decision to center our efforts on our foundational business will ensure a successful future for our imprints and incredibly gifted authors as we continue to publish with the passion and care that defines the Catapult Book Group.”
Amidst the outpouring of support for the journal and heartfelt exchanges among students and teachers regarding the writing workshops, many were shocked to learn that they were losing their jobs.
On her Substack, Jill Gallagher writes,
Like many, including some staff, I found out that Catapult is shutting down its magazine and classes via Twitter. Publisher’s Weekly broke the news Tuesday morning and it remains, 3 days later, the only place to be covering it. If you go to the Catapult site, Twitter feed, or Instagram page, you will see nothing about its eminent end.
Others stated that, while the article focused on the magazine and writing workshops, there were layoffs in the books department as well. (It’s unclear whether these employees were notified in advance of the PW article.)
One former Catapult employee also took to Twitter to tell about her own not-so-rosy experience working in the company’s marketing department.
In the wake of the company’s workshops ending, many stepped forward to support these now-displaced writing instructors. Here is a thread from WritingWorkshops.com on how to pitch a class. Courtney Maum compiled a list of “Ex-Catapulters looking for work” and places that are hiring. Sharla Yates (who recently resigned from Creative Nonfiction Magazine, after they too shuttered online classes) and Allison K. Williams are starting a new venture for webinars and craft talks.
Meanwhile, others took the occasion to draw attention to some of Catapult’s questionable funding sources.
This Change.org petition from last year is addressed to Elizabeth Koch. She is the co-founder and CEO of Catapult. She is also the daughter of Charles Koch, billionaire, 14th richest person in the world, and co-owner/CEO of Koch Industries. In the petition, Travis Nichols cites more presses tied to Elizabeth Koch and argues,
The writers and artists Elizabeth Koch publishes -- through Soft Skull, Black Balloon, and Counterpoint -- shouldn’t be used to launder her family’s name. Unless Elizabeth Koch goes on the record to support stopping the climate crisis at its root, all the good work Catapult does risks being perceived as a greenwashing front for the family businesses fueling catastrophe.
In this FENCE interview, Lucy Biederman says,
This evil, this money, the Koch Brothers, are inside our community. Behind the name Catapult, the name Koch. I sit under their lights and wear their clothes; I am heated and cooled by them. But they won’t ever have my writing. There’s so much that feels hopeless about the influence of this money, but I am hopeful that independent literary writing and writers can unite to divest from the Kochs.
In related news, The Bear Creek Gazette also announced its closing last week.
This is an online magazine and press that offers “weird books made for weird people.”
Alas, it seems that many of the authors slated to publish here learned that they would not be publishing their books only upon reading the publisher’s tweet.
Another magazine also announced its closing. This news just came today to readers of Ambit, a venerable UK-based magazine founded in 1959:
Unfortunately, due to some unwelcome financing factors including the loss of our archive sale and the death of a major patron, the time for Ambit to act as an independent charity and publication has come to end. Our edition 249 Magick will be the final one…
And last week, the Moth Magazine in Ireland also announced it will be closing its magazines The Moth and Caterpillar.
In light of all these closings and changes, Jake Kerridge has written Why book lovers need to fight for literary magazines – fast. Kerridge argues,
If these magazines don’t survive and continue to cultivate young writers and promote non-mainstream work, the literary future may be bleak. You may see the books you read become steadily duller, lower quality, and more homogeneous. As [White Review Editor Rosanna] Mclaughlin points out: “In the literary ecosystem, we play a vital role.”
In brighter news, it seems that Interview Magazine has begun covering lit mags somewhat regularly. Last week Dean Kissick spoke to Patrick McGraw, Editor of new “alt-lit magazine” Heavy Traffic. Kissick observes,
Some of my favorite stories I’ve read over the past few years have been published by Patrick McGraw’s Heavy Traffic magazine…Patrick says these stories are not really short stories at all; they’re short fictions, they’re something else, they are fragments of a much longer, unfinished, heavily stylized text.
At this site, you can find coverage of the new Forever Magazine. Says Olivia Hingley,
Forever Magazine is a literary publication with a difference. Founded by editor and CEO Madeline Cash, who works alongside Anika Jade Levy, its event’s manager and CEO, the project prioritises work from the peripheral with outsider writers, while breaking out of the often pared back design of long-standing literary journals.
Now, if all this does not inspire you to seek a job at a lit mag, I don’t know what will! Here is what’s out there:
Oxford American is looking for a short-term Assistant Editor.
World Literature Today seeks a Graphic Designer.
Poetry Magazine seeks to hire readers—yes, hire readers, with pay.
For those of you seeking homes for your latest & greatest, many of the February markets listed here are still open so check them out!
As for us, I hope all of you participating in this month’s reading club are enjoying the material. Later this week I will post thoughts and open up the discussion for Pacifica Review. Soon I’ll do the same for North American Review. So keep your eyes peeled for those.
We will be speaking to the editors of both these magazines later this month. If you haven’t yet, be sure to register to attend those live interviews here.
And March is just around the bend! For next month, we will be reading Cincinnati Review, issue 19.2. We will speak with Editor Lisa Ampleman about this issue at the end March. Lisa is currently looking into discounts for participants. I’ll share that info as soon as I have it.
Unfortunately, our second editor, had to back out. We hope to reschedule with Maureen Langloss of Split Lip Magazine next year.
For those new to all this, you can learn about our fun and fabulous Lit Mag Reading Club here. It’s for paying subscribers only. Beyond that, all are welcome and you can join anytime.
And that you daily dabblers and deep deliberators, you em-dash enthusiasts and unapologetic wielders of wildly proper apostrophes, you for whom every comma splice sends a shudder through your soul and you who spend the hours cutting, adding, cutting again, re-adding, and on and on in a merciless spiral of self-doubt and near-delusional defiance, you with your eager enjambments, you with your earnest yet ever-mysterious ellipses…,you master plotters and major characters, you who’ve stared at the words so many times they’ve begun to blur into a furry blob of incoherence and you whose eyes are fresh as a daisy or two, thanks to that ninth trip to the coffee maker, and yes, very good, coffee, that’s what we need, a little more energy, a little more spaz, a little splash of manic twitching hysteria, because who says writing can’t be filled with some spine sweat now and then? some panic?!? some chaotic jittery confident uncertain terror??!!?? and also, of course, nothing more nothing less than obsessive radiant heat from your rapidly pounding, though beautiful, always, present and so very full heart of perfect hearts, is the news in literary magazines.
Have an exuberant week, pals.
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This is NUTS!! Becky coming in like a wrecking ball. I find all these lit mag closings worrisome, does anyone else?
Did you hear about Clarkesworld needing to close submissions (um, they just about NEVER close!) because they got hit by a swarm of AI subs? Ugh.