Editors’ Choice: Editors Share Their Picks for the Best Lit Mags Pt. 1: Michael Meyerhofer
I recently asked a few editors what they consider to be “top” literary journals and why they chose them. First up is Michael Meyerhofer (http://atticusreview.org/) in his own words below.
When it comes to poetry journals (or lit journals that also publish poetry) that I like, there are definitely way too many to mention, but here are some of my favorites, not counting Atticus Review where I serve as Poetry Editor, of course.
1) Rattle (energetic, accessible, and pretention-free)
2) Hayden’s Ferry (another smart, fun journal)
3) Mid-American Review (consistently awesome)
4) Crab Orchard Review (was promoting quality diverse voices long before it was kewl)
5) Rumpus (great, enthusiastic, multi-pronged approach to lit)
6) Diagram (good place to see a wide range of styles)
7) River Styx (probably the first print journal I started routinely reading cover-to-cover)
8) Cream City Review (another favorite)
9) Southern Indiana Review (still quietly chugging along as one of the best)
10) Redactions (another one well worth checking out)
The first time I discovered River Styx, I was busy trying to familiarize myself with contemporary lit journals… which mostly involved me getting frustrated and tossing many of them aside, after what they published struck me as overly erudite, self-aggrandizing bullshit. Then I came across a couple issues of River Styx, and I was blown away by how the poems honored language’s wild capacity for lyricism and metaphor without sacrificing accessibility. Put another way, that was probably the first magazine I enjoyed reading. A lot.
From there, I sought out other magazines that seemed to have a similar aesthetic. Hayden’s Ferry, Cream City Review, Southern Indiana Review, and Redactions fit the bill. They could be a bit more experimental at times, sometimes a bit less narrative, but I never got the sense that they were pushing the boundaries of form, lyricism, etc., just to be hip. Rather, they’re hip precisely because they do all those things for the right reason—that is, because the art seems to require it, because the sincerity of the piece allows it, and because it’s just plain fun.
As for Crab Orchard Review, that shares all the before-mentioned characteristics, I think, and was one of the main factors that drew me to pursuing an MFA at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. I was also drawn to the way the editors publish and promote diverse voices—something which is all the rage now—but do so in such a way that it’s clear their first commitment is to quality. I’m sure a fair amount of this is subjective, but what the hay.
Michael Meyerhofer’s most recent book of poetry is What To Do If You’re Buried Alive. For more information, please visit troublewithhammers.com.