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What we’re talking about today: End the suffering of dying literary journals

In addition to the exclamations about the fall of our government, many writers and publishing folk on Twitter are discussing this NaPo blog post by poet Michael Lista, “Why Literary Magazines Should Fold”. Most tweets began with an almost embarrassed admission that they agreed with him.

It turns out a lot of us think that weeding the overgrown garden of literary journals might make the remaining plants grow healthier. With fewer magazines, content would improve, including writing with more eloquent metaphors than those describing overgrown gardens. Lista writes:

The problem with the market for literary journals now is that there’s too much supply for too little demand. The demand is there, to be sure, and isn’t in danger of diminishment should a number of these journals fold; quite the opposite. A culling will improve quality on both sides of the editorial table; the quality of submissions will increase as places to publish become more scarce, as will the calibre of the editors. And if we move from having a couple dozen journals to a handful, the readership that now is so thinly spread will coalesce around the remaining organs. The standard of the whole enterprise will rise. A magazine’s most important asset, let’s keep in mind, is its exclusivity; writers want to be published by magazines that are tough to get into, and readers buy pedigree.

  • Paz

    I’m concerned that new authors will have less places to get a foothold and less editors to work with. The lit journal “Lichen” which published Johanna Skibsrud before she won a Giller, is not publishing any new issues. Small presses and literary journals are where new writers start. By letting them fall by the wayside, are we preventing future Canadian writers from developing their craft and their readership?

  • Paz

    (sorry, _fewer_ editors)

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