Lit Mag Reading Club Chat: North American Review, Fall 2022
Q & A with J.D. Schraffenberger, Editor of North American Review
The final February interview is now in the books!
Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Jeremy Schraffenberger, Editor of North American Review. “As the oldest literary magazine in the nation,” says the journal’s site, “our selected works reflect the breadth of the American experience, and encompass any voices that are committed to telling rich narratives that challenge the status quo.”
Indeed, this magazine is old! It’s been around since 1815 with just one short break over the years. Why was the magazine temporarily paused in 1940, you ask? Oh, just because the editor at the time was found to be an unregistered agent for the Japanese government leading up to WWII, and ended up in prison.
No matter, the journal picked up again in the 60’s and has been publishing ever since. As to how Jeremy sees the identity of this magazine, he named three defining principles: “open, eclectic and restorative.” They are open in a democratic sense, meaning the majority of published work comes from the submissions queue. They are also open aesthetically, meaning the journal’s layout is designed to give each piece space to stand on its own and breathe.
As for being eclectic, Jeremy explained how the magazine is not locked into any particular style from one issue to the next. They have room to play and experiment, and to change course as necessary. The magazine is restorative in terms of what it offers readers as well as in terms of its role as a historical archive of America’s complex history. The journal also engages in community outreach and will be part of a regional youth poet laureate program in the near future.
As to their editorial process, all the work at this magazine is reviewed by student readers at The University of Northern Iowa, and the process serves as an educational tool for those students. But submitters should not worry that their work is being evaluated exclusively by young’uns. Every piece is also reviewed by an editor at the magazine and discussions between editors and student readers about submitted work are common.
If you get a rejection from this magazine, Jeremy encourages submitters to keep trying. They get thousands of submissions each year. But they always want to hear from both experienced and newer writers. Submissions are open year-round.
In today’s conversation, we also talked about the latest issue specifically. What, I wanted to know, is Jeremy most proud of? What qualities did the winning piece for the nonfiction contest possess that made him say, Yes, this is the one? And how does this issue compare with what the magazine seeks to publish more generally?
Jeremy’s answers were thoughtful, thorough and engaging. To hear them, you will have to watch the video!
This one is for members of Lit Mag Reading Club. But you can join the club and check out these videos anytime.
To everyone who came out to view today, thank you for tuning in!
And, of course, thank you to Jeremy for taking the time to peel back the curtain of another lovely longstanding little magazine.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Lit Mag News to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.