Many times I admit to being a literary magazine/journal and Chapbook hoarder and when people see my collection they gasp and possibly mumble WTF! A few years back I wrote this post 10 Best Irish Literary Magazines You Should Read and Support and at the time, these were some of the journals I was regularly reading.
Though I still read these, the journals that are still in print, a lot has changed and there are a few more print journals that I adore and love to get my hands on, but also, the rise of online journals and literary websites has my head in a spin, so much quality reading, so much work put in by brilliant editors that it is time I did a new list of what I am reading at the moment (only in Ireland, I will be doing an international selection soon….so soo huge) it will include print and online editions and I highly suggest seeking them out, reading online for free or buying the journals.
As we well know, there’s a vicious battle going on in the literary world and many articles online regularly feature the drop in reading, how technology is killing paper, so many journals closing, lot’s of negativity and false statements and in the words of The Honest Ulsterman, ‘We will aim to demonstrate to the tiresome Jeremiahs of doom that literature is alive and well and, if it can prosper on this green rain-drenched crag in the ocean, it can do so anywhere.‘ With so many new journals and websites popping up I can only see the positive side which is why it is important to support our hard working editors and buy as many journals that suit your taste as you can.
Here are 12 literary magical shards of sweat and bones, brought to you by our beast working editors. I encourage you also to submit your poetry, essays, short stories and art.
No 1. The Poetry Bus Magazine
A couple of years back when I received my first copy of The Poetry Bus I was quite impressed not just by the quality of the packed literature and illustrations with-in, but also by the quality of the paper, size and cover, the smoothness and feel of the journal, a little beauty and to this day this brilliant publication is still one of my favourites.
Founded by Peadar and Collette O’Donoghue, The Poetry Bus publishes basically when they are happy with the quality of submissions and have funded the money to get printing since the journal has no support from the Arts council and as such relies on us readers to help out (read an interview with Peadar here). The magazine looks for for local and International submissions of poetry, flash fiction, Art, short stories, graphic short stories, opinion pieces about the poetry world and the art world. Check out the website here for more details.
No 2. The Penny Dreadful
The county of Cork seems to produce a few fine literature journals and magazines and one of these is The Penny Dreadful. Founded by John Keating and Marc O’Connell, they have gone on to produce 5 issues so far with clever and hilarious issue titles such as “I Want to Ride my Bicycle” “A Finger Massage From TheLord of Hosts”, “High Brow Litter” and“As American as Borscht, Vodka and Communism” and the latest “Those aren’t Muskets”. The team also have a press producing books as well as a Novella competition.
Submissions are by call out so check the website, and they usually want poetry and short stories. You can buy the print version (recommended) and also read online. Visit The Penny Dreadful here and start reading some quality writing.
No 3. Spontaneity
I’ve recently being introduced to Spontaneity through Peadar from The Poetry Bus and I have to say it is one of my new addictions. Very fresh, very new and indulging and I beg you to go check out the website. With this concept, everything is online. Basically the way it works is, a piece of art is submitted, poetry/short stories/flash fiction are inspired from that piece of art, and like a domino effect, poetry and art etc. are inspired from each other is a sort of a loop. It is such a brilliant concept. Go to the site, find a piece of art or literature and add your inspiration and artistic response to the loop.
Ruth McKee is the editor and founder of this web-publication and out of the hundreds I read and visit online, this is one of my favourite with quality art, writing and each issue blossoms with fresh inspired pieces of work not to be missed. Visit Spontaneity now, find something that stands out to you and have fun responding.
No 4. A New Ulster
Northern Ireland’s A New Ulster is an online and print (POD) independent magazine packed full of quality poetry and prose. In its mission statement (which is well worth a read) the editor states “A New Ulster is ultimately a publication aimed at reaching as many people as possible, sharing poetry, fiction and art with everyone no matter their creed or culture” and I love this honesty and warmth.
A New Ulster is run by Amos Greig as well as Arizahn and Adam Rudden. There are a lot of back issues to read online and you can also buy the printed version. Submissions are all year around and done by email. Go here to check out A New Ulster online, you will not be disappointed.
No 5. The Pickled Body
Now, here’s a little gem of an online publication that is relatively new but has potential to grow in to a fine literature magazine. Set up and cleverly orchestrated by Dimitra Xidous and Patrick Chapman, each issue has a theme and a call out to writers and artists to submit their interpretation on the theme and it works wonderfully.
The magazine is published online quarterly (though I would like to see a printed version down the line as I can see this magazine been visually outstanding) and as they state “Each themed issue presents work from the surreal to the sensual and points in between – poems that not only sound as good as they look, but taste as good as they feel.” And that is the general feeling you get after reading this excellent publication. Check out the latest theme call out on the website here and get submitting, or simply enjoy the quality of the poetry and art.
No 6. Ropes Journal
Out of all the journals and magazines I am introducing here, Ropes is probably one of the most important journals I will encourage you to buy no matter what part of the world you live in simply because when it is published, which is once a year, the proceeds are always giving to a chosen charity that and that is a fine reason for buying this publication.
Ropes is a journal of poetry, fiction and art and coincides with Cúirt International Festival of Literature in Galway in April. Now heading it to it’s 14th year, the journal is published by the students of NUI Galway. Each year there is a different theme and the call out for submissions is usually around November looking for artists and writers locally and globally. So far there is no website or call out and as soon as it happens I will post here.
No 7. Skylight 47
Relatively new to the scene, published first in 2013, Skylight 47 is fast becoming an important part of the Irish literature scene. Originally founded by Susan Lindsay, Nicki Griffin and the sadly missed Kevin O’Shea, new editors along side Nicki have taking the helm and they are Bernie Crawford, Marie Cadden and Ruth Quinlan.
The publication publishes excellent poetry, art and book reviews as well as interviews. I like the paper-style format it is produced on, like reading a Sunday paper full of top class writing.
Skylight 47 accepts submissions from local and international writers and states that they hope to pay writers down the line, but unfortunately, not the editors. You can visit the website here and purchase a copy, highly recommended.
No 8. Burning Bush 2
I always have fun reading the Burning Bush 2 online. The magazine can be full of political humor or poetry about everyday life, harsh or moving, but you will always find some piece of writing that will leave you speechless.
Edited by the brilliant Alan Jude Moore, each issue is a call out to writers yet the themes are open. Basically, they want and publish the best work they can which includes poetry, flash fiction, reviews and criticism and is normally published twice a year. There is a lot of outstanding work so go here and visit the site for a snoop and read.
No 9. The Galway Review
We are lucky enough in Galway to have such a raving literature scene with plenty of readings, book launches and literature journals and The Galway Review is one of my favourite websites and print journals I like to regularly return to.
The website has published a massive amount of writers and there is plenty of material there to keep you occupied for a month.
The website was born in 2012 and is the brain child of Ndrek Gjini along side editor in chief Máire Holmes and has growing into a huge website with thousands of readership worldwide.
You can submit anytime and the print version usually has its launch during the Cúirt International Festival of Literature in April. Pop over to the website here, get reading and submitting.
No 10. The Honest Ulsterman
Though the original publication, founded by James Simmons in May 1968, is not in print any longer, the journal has been revived and moved online and is one of the best looking literature websites around, actually, as a reader I would suggest to other future editors to copy the lay out as it is simple, very clean and easy to follow.
The writing inside is outstanding and many of the top names in the literature world have published here. Excellent essays, poetry, fiction and reviews are to be found inside the site and I also like the addition of a podcast button (though none available as of yet) but this will be a great inclusion to an already fantastic beautiful website. Visit the Honest Ulsterman here and be sure to read the blueprint, fascinating read.
No 11. Southword Literary Journal
Southword Literary Journal is a well known literature journal in Ireland and possibly one of the best. It is published biannually by the Munster Literature Centre and pays its contributors which is hard to come by these days and why they select just a few to publish of the highest quality.
I love the fact that you can purchase a copy plus go to the website and read back issues. I also love the easiness of the layout which makes it very easy to find poetry and fiction to read, clean, simple and clear website.
Poems, prose and literary criticism (in English and Irish) are considered between January and March 15th each year for our summer issue and Submittable is in use in which I would love if every other journal and site would move to the same submission format, so much easier for all. Check out Southword Literary Journal here.
No 12. Banshee
One last one I would like to give a shout out to is the new Banshee which I have only come across in the last couple of weeks and I really like what they have to offer especially after reading this interview. A new initiative by Eimear Ryan, Claire Hennessy and Laura Jane Cassidy, they have bravely gone straight into the print market and are also paying contributors, I’m really digging this (I have just purchased a copy so look forward to its arrival) and will be publishing twice a year.
Next submission call will be in Spring 2016 for the Autumn edition and they are looking for poetry, flash fiction, stories and essays. One thing I hope they do is move away from Tumbler and invest in a decent website in the future. Visit Banshee here and purchase a copy.
So there you have what I am reading these days on the Irish scene. I know there are plenty out there which do not feature here, so if you have any suggestions please comment, find me on FB or mail me, I’m always looking for new literature mags and site to invest my reading time in. Also, support support support our wonderful literature people by buying the journals.