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Lit Mags with Recordings
A list of lit mags with audio components, recommendations for listening pleasure, and some tips on ways to listen
Welcome to our weekly column offering perspectives on lit mag publishing, with contributions from readers, writers and editors around the world.
Part of the magic of reading a good story is the way its text comes to life as a voice in the mind. It’s beautiful how the same story will conjure different mental voices in different readers. It’s also beautiful how a story is brought to life through a particular person’s actual voice when an author’s (or actor’s) reading gives weight to certain words and energy to particular phrases.
Below are some lit mags that feature recordings of readings (and a few choice selections), which give us fantastic opportunities to consider how an author hears their own story, to experience rhythms and nuances that may not be immediately apparent when we read the story’s text.
Just keep in mind that although a recorded reading by an author may reflect the way they intended the story to come across, the experience of a story is a collaboration between author and reader, and there are myriad ways that collaboration can play out. The way you hear the voice of a story’s narrator in your mind is how you respond to what the author has presented, part of the magic of what the story specifically is to you.
Arkana “seeks and fosters a sense of shared wonder by publishing inclusive art that asks questions, explores mystery, and works to make visible the marginalized, the overlooked, and those whose voices have been silenced.
I recommend “The Reincarnation of American Ingenuity,” which has a first-person narration that charges full steam ahead with a clock, a gun and one stunning character arc.
Pine Hills Review “is an online literary journal with a national focus that publishes artful, honest, and compelling work by new and established writers, from fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to visual art, interviews, and experimental, cross-genre work.”
Check out Becky’s interview with Editor Daniel Nester:
New Ohio Review “is a national literary journal produced by Ohio University’s Creative Writing Program.”
Chestnut Review’s “mission is to provide a literary home to stubborn artists and writers.”
I recommend “Maggie,” a compact, entrancing recount of the rapport between two travelers.
Lightspeed Magazine “is a digital science fiction and fantasy magazine. In its pages, you will find science fiction: from near-future, sociological soft SF, to far-future, star-spanning hard SF—and fantasy: from epic fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, and contemporary urban tales, to magical realism, science-fantasy, and folktales.”
Clarkesworld Magazine “is a monthly science fiction and fantasy magazine first published in October 2006. Each issue contains interviews, thought-provoking articles, and between six and eight works of original fiction.”
Cincinnati Review “has published many promising new and emerging writers as well as Pulitzer Prize winners and Guggenheim and MacArthur fellows.”
I recommend “Trespassing,” which feels direct and atmospheric as the narration relates quotidian moments during a time of transformation.
If you want to get more out of listening to these readings, try these exercises.
Before listening to a recording, read the story and consider how you think the story will sound when read by a narrator. When might the pacing pick up? What words might be emphasized? What kind of tone might a piece of dialogue have? Listen to the recording and compare what you heard to your notes.
Better yet, read a piece aloud cold. I once attended a workshop in which our instructor, Joan Naviyuk Kane, would ask us to “sight read” poems the way a musician would sight read sheet music: playing a song without ever having rehearsed it. This can provide an idea of how we immediately interpret a text without much time to think it over. After you’ve read a few paragraphs or the whole piece, consider how the text guided your voice. Listen to the recording and contrast your reading with it. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to read the story aloud, but the similarities and differences between your reading and the recording might tell you something interesting about the commonalities and divergences in these two interpretations of how the story sounds.
Without reading the piece first, listen to the recording and see if you can hear the punctuation and formatting. Where does it sound like there’s a dash or section break? Take a look at the story and see if your impressions match the text. This can provide a sense of how you might use punctuation and formatting in your own writing to make the story “sound” a particular way in a reader’s mind.
Have you ever recorded your work for a lit mag? What was your experience?
Do you edit a lit mag that features audio recordings? Please tell us about it.