Play That Funky Lit Mag!
Passing of Atlantic Editor; CNF staff resignation; new AI submissions policies; professional jealousy; building community; lit mag databases; and more
Welcome to the bi-weekly news roundup!
Greetings Lit Magocodiles,
This week’s newsletter begins on a sad note as I relay news of another loss in the literary community. C. Michael Curtis, Editor Emeritus and longtime Fiction Editor for The Atlantic has passed away. From The Atlantic:
Mike Curtis, who died last week at the age of 88, was a member of The Atlantic’s staff for 57 years. The American literary empyrean is thickly populated with writers Mike discovered or nurtured. For good reason: Over his long career…Mike was a tireless champion of short fiction who loved nothing more than discovering new talent. “The best part of my job,” he once said, “is turning over all those rocks and finding a silver dollar now and then.”
Writer Jane Roper shares reminiscences of Curtis and several of his personal rejection letters to her, noting, “It’s clear that Michael Curtis, like any good editor or teacher of writing, was committed to evaluating the thing—the story—separately from its maker…He will be missed.”
In other news, big changes are underway at Creative Nonfiction Magazine. In my last newsletter I mentioned that something was going on, but I did not know what. Well, the what has been revealed. Shortly after Founding Editor Lee Gutkind sent out a mass email announcing internal re-structuring, the journal’s former staff provided more specific details.
In still other news, this morning writer Erika Dreifus directed my attention to a very interesting announcement from The Fabulist Magazine:
We affirm to our readers and contributors that The Fabulist Magazine is, first and foremost, a venue for connections and encounters with unadulterated human creative works.
• Unless otherwise specified in any given call for submissions, The Fabulist is not open to works that include AI processes of any sort, including the generation of prompts, titles, names, outlines, dialogue, plot elements, descriptive passages, etc.
• We have updated our contractual and submissions materials to reflect this prohibition as clearly as possible.
• This policy is retroactive; we will remove from our archives any works found to have included undisclosed AI adulteration, though, lacking a formal policy prior to this date, we welcome the opportunity to work with previous contributors to update such works or look at new submissions.
In a tweet, Erika observed that this was “the first #litmag statement I've encountered regarding the use of ‘AI processes’ in submissions.”
It’s a first for me too.
Naturally I wonder, will other lit mags follow suit? Will lit mags everywhere need to update their submissions policies to reflect the role of AI art and writing in our lives?
In the meantime, being who I am, upon hearing that a certain thing is not considered acceptable, I immediately had to go and try it!
I typed in two prompts at an AI story generator. It came up with the following results.
From the prompt, “a woman who wants a divorce”:
From the prompt: “a rabbit suspects it might be human” (because I was curious to see how the AI bot would interpret being human):
Interesting, right? We will definitely discuss AI-writing in one of our upcoming weekend conversations.
I actually think it would be neat to create an issue of a lit mag entirely dedicated to AI-generated writing. Just for kicks. Anyone else want to try this? Give me a holler. This could be fun! (And not at all depressing!)
Speaking of things that are not at all depressing, over at LitHub, Fairy Tale Review Editor Benjamin Schaefer has written a (quite lovely, actually) piece about professional jealousy and disappointment. Writes Schaefer,
For me the pitfalls of professional jealousy are too numerous. The most obvious is that it makes another human being the target of my disappointment. I tell myself that if I had what they had, I would not feel how I feel, and it doesn’t take long for that story to harden into something like resentment. I begin to blame the other person for what I’m feeling, often unconsciously. And while that might offer some temporary relief for my ego, if I’ve learned anything in my years of recovery, it’s that when I resent another person, I am the one who suffers. Which brings me back to professional jealousy as a tactic of avoidance.
In this month’s Poets and Writers Magazine, Laura Maylene Walter writes about Literary Magazines as the Gateway to Your Career. Walter observes, “Publishing in a literary magazine is about more than your individual byline—it’s about entering into conversation with editors, other contributors, and potential readers.”
Also at that magazine, this month’s Lit MagNet focuses on essayist Katherine Indermaur. “‘When you contribute to a literary journal—whether as a writer or editor—you join that community,’ says Indermaur, who edits poetry for Sugar House Review and is a former editor of Colorado Review. ‘Each issue is its own community.’”
In the realm of closing lit mags, Berfrois has announced it will be ceasing publication. I admit, I was unfamiliar with this journal. But I do admire their quick and unsentimental departure: “Nuclear fusion is here. Chinese democracy is almost here. We’ll have to read about it elsewhere. Ain’t it fun. Peace and love.”
For those of you looking for work in the lit mag biz, here’s what’s out there:
Arboreal is seeking volunteers.
A Public Space is open for fellowship applications.
Oxford American seeks a Development Coordinator.
For those of you looking for markets for your latest and greatest, some nifty new resources have crossed my path:
Brecht de Poortere has created a free downloadable database of the top 1,000 lit mags. The database lists payment, reading period and so on. There is also a column for Lit Mag News where Brecht links to any editor interviews I’ve done. We’ve got a long way to go before we reach all 1k, but we’re getting there!
I also just discovered this Poetry Bulletin. Writer Emily Stoddard describes it as “a poet-to-poet effort to make the publishing process friendlier and easier. It began in 2018 with the big list of poetry book publishers and grew from there. Over 175 reading periods are now tracked, and the list gets a complete, annual update in January.”
As for us, lots will be happening this week and next. For our Lit Mag Reading Club, I will be speaking with Southern Review Editor Sacha Idell this Thursday at 12pm est. I will also be speaking with Conjunctions Managing Editor Clare Shearer next Monday at 1pm est.
The registration links for both of these events are here:
I will post my thoughts on Southern Review and Conjunctions in the next few days, so if you’ve been reading along, please stay on the lookout for those conversations.
For February, we will be reading two journals: Pacifica Literary Review issue 19.1 and North American Review, Fall 2022. Pacifica is entirely online. I’ll share a discount to North American Review if and when I get it, hopefully asap. So keep your eyes peeled for that as well.
As a reminder, anyone can join Lit Mag Reading Club anytime by becoming a paying subscriber. You’ll get journal discounts, access to the live interviews and recordings, and be able to participate in all our discussions.
One more thing: Lit Mag News needs writers! Our weekly column is dedicated to reflections, ideas, advice, controversies, hot takes, cold takes, luke warm takes, humor, agony, and so on and so forth, so long as it is relevant to lit mag publishing. All writers are paid. You can learn more here, and if you know someone who might be interested, please let them know.
And that you carrot-eaters and grass-dwellers, you fuzzy little adorable snufflecuddle blobs of fur, you who hop all day and flop around all night, you with ears so pointy and notions so long, you with your very pink eyes that sit strangely on the sides of your head, you who are so cute, so so cute!, you who—fun fact!—sweat only from the pads of your feet, you dear darling squishy soft creatures who…wait, what’s that?...think you might in fact be…a human being?...but why oh why?...with all the torment, drama, heartbreak, desire, loneliness, longing, striving, not to mention never-ending flood of emails, why little bunny would you…?....well, if you say so…? but look, just, don’t ever change, and by that I mean to say, please don’t ever stop being so sweetly beautifully softly fluffy and floopy, you who are quite frankly fiercely and ferociously forever enchanting, is the news in literary magazines.
Have a most delightful week, pals.
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