In our previous post, we examined the state of literary publishing in terms of POC-owned and operated literary presses. In this post, we survey the landscape of literary journals and provide a listing of currently operating journals which are helmed by POC editors. In total, we found __ literary journals whose mastheads list a writer of color as their editor-in-chief. Many also feature additional associate editors and staff members who are also POC. Some of these journals have been around since the 70s, but many are newer online journals, having come into existence in the last 5 years.
As has been much discussed elsewhere, the advent of improved Web 2.0 CMS technologies like WordPress, SquareSpace, and Wix (among others), better integration of PDF documents into websites, as well as the increased ease of setting up POD (print on demand) publishing has greatly democratized the literary publishing field. When I first launched Boxcar Poetry Review back in 2006, most of these technologies were in their infancy or did not exist at all. I hand-coded the website, which essentially amounted to digitally typesetting each poem (which to some degree is how Boxcar continues to be produced). Now, someone with next to no knowledge of web programing can craft a decent literary journal using templates and some good design instincts. Initial investment is also minimal -- the cost of a domain name and web hosting, some initial set up and design time, and a regular commitment to read and respond to submissions. For less than $200/year, anyone can get started, Online literary journals also avoid the trap of unsold printed inventory -- rather than tying up money in printing costs, the editors can focus on sharing the issue and spreading word about the journal. It's an exciting time to start and run a literary journal. For many POC would-be editors, the relatively ease to create a presentable product and comparatively low financial risk/cost to start up an online literary journal, have meant an increased shift to online literary publishing. In past, literary journals were largely subsidized by inherited wealth and trust funds, institutional support from a university, or the backing of wealthy family friends and patrons. Today more and more writers of color sense an opportunity to create literary spaces and take on the roles of gatekeeper and editor, when once those opportunities and roles were closed off or limited.
And yet, for every literary journal we list below, there are countless others which published one issue and then faded away, or never got their first issue out. And there are many older journals which lost momentum, funding, or institutional support after a few issues. Some pressed on for decades before folding due to other issues -- internal disputes, a failed course change, of a shift in public interest in their chosen focus. Some journals just falter because the founding editor does not plan ahead for their departure. There are many reasons why the list is not as long as it could. And why some names aren't on it, even though we might remember a time when X journal or Y magazine had published something groundbreaking or notable, or had seemed to be visionary and unstoppable.
POC-Edited Literary Journals
- Acentos Revew (http://www.acentosreview.com) - Editor-in-Chief: Raina Leon
- Apogee Journal (http://apogeejournal.org) - Editor-in-Chief: Alexandra Watson
- Asian American Literary Review (http://aalr.binghamton.edu) - Editors-in-Chief: Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis & Gerald Maa
- Aster(ix) (http://asterixjournal.com) - Editors-in-Chief: Angie Cruz & Adriana E. Ramírez
- Berkeley Poetry Review (https://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~bpr/) - Editor-in-Chief: 최 Lindsay
- Boxcar Poetry Review (http://www.boxcarpoetry.com) - Editor-in-Chief: Neil Aitken
- Callaloo (http://callaloo.tamu.edu) - Editor-in-Chief: Charles Henry Rowell
- Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (http://asiancha.com) - Editor-in-Chief: Tammy Ho Lai-ming
- Crab Orchard Review (http://craborchardreview.siu.edu) - Editor-in-Chief: Allison Joseph
- East Jasmine Review (http://eastjasminereview.com) - Editor-in-Chief: Cherisse Yanit Nadal
- Entropy (https://entropymag.org) - Editor-in-Chief: Janice Lee
- Hermeneutic Chaos (http://www.hermeneuticchaosjournal.com) - Editor-in-Chief: Shinjini Bhattacharjee.
- Jaggery (http://jaggerylit.com) - Editor-in-Chief: Anu Mahadev
- Kartika Review (http://www.kartikareview.com) - Editor-in-Chief: Paul Lai
- Kweli Journal (http://www.kwelijournal.org) - Editor-in-Chief: Laura Pegrem
- Lantern Review (http://www.lanternreview.com/) - Editors-in-Chief: Iris A. Law & Mia Ayumi Malhotra
- Memoir Magazine (https://memoirmag.com) - Editor-in-Chief: Mary McBeth
- Obsidian (https://about.illinoisstate.edu/obsidian/Pages/default.aspx) - Editor-in-Chief: Duriel E. Harris
- pacific Review (https://pacificreview.sdsu.edu/casa1.html) - Editor-in-Chief: Kaitlin Sweeney
- Pirene's Fountain (http://www.pirenesfountain.com) - Editor-in-Chief: Ami Kaye
- Queen Mobs Tea House (http://queenmobs.com) - Editors-in-Chief: Cornelia Barber & Ruben Quesada
- Ricepaper MagazIne (https://ricepapermagazine.ca) - Editor-in-Chief: Allan Cho
- Room (https://roommagazine.com) - Editor-in-Chief: Chelene Knight
- Singapore Poetry / Singapore Unbound (https://singaporeunbound.org/sp-blog/) - Editor-in-Chief: Jee Leong Koh
- TAYO Literary Magazine (http://www.tayoliterarymag.com) - Editor-in-Chief: Melissa R. Sipin
- The Feminist Wire (http://www.thefeministwire.com) - Editor-in-Chief: Tamura Lomax
- The Margins (http://aaww.org) - Editor-in-Chief: Jyothi Natarajan
- Tinderbox Poetry Journal (http://www.tinderboxpoetry.com) - Editor-in-Chief: Jenn Givhan
- Waxwing Journal (http://waxwingmag.org/) - Co-Editor-in-Chief: Todd Kaneko
- Winter Tangerine (http://www.wintertangerine.com/) - Editor-in-Chief: Yasmin Belkhyr
Neil Aitken is the author of two books of poetry, Babbage's Dream (Sundress 2017) and The Lost Country of Sight (Anhinga 2008), winner of the Philip Levine Prize. His poetry chapbook, Leviathan, was the 2017 Elgin Prize winner for science fiction poetry. A former computer programmer and a past Kundiman poetry fellow, he is the founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review, the administrator of Have Book Will Travel, and co-director of De-Canon: A Visibility Project.