American literary magazine
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Literary magazines first began to appear in the United States in the early part of the 19th century, mirroring an overall rise in the number of books, magazines and scholarly journals being published at that time. Even though many of these magazines were not necessarily entirely literary in content and most had a short lifespan, they thrived in cities both large and small (for example, several literary magazines were published in Charleston, South Carolina, including the Southern Review from 1828–32 and Russell's Magazine from 1857–60). Two important exceptions to this short-lived rule are The North American Review, which was founded in 1815, and The Yale Review, founded in 1819, both of which are still in print. The North American Review is the oldest American literary magazine, but publication was suspended during World War II whereas the Yale Review was not, making the Yale journal the oldest literary magazine in continuous publication. By the end of the century, literary magazines had become an important feature of intellectual life.
Among the literary magazines that began in the early part of that century is Poetry Magazine, founded in 1912, which published T. S. Eliot's first poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Other important early-20th century literary magazines include the Southern Review and New Letters, both founded in 1935, and The Times Literary Supplement, founded in 1902.
Two of the most influential — and radically different — journals of the last-half of the 20th century were The Kenyon Review and The Partisan Review. KR, founded by John Crowe Ransom, espoused the so-called New Criticism. Its platform was avowedly unpolitical. Although Ransom came from the South and published authors from that region, KR also published many New York-based and international authors. The Partisan Review was first associated with the Communist Party and the John Reed Club. But it soon broke ranks with the Party. Nevertheless, politics remained central to its character, while it also published significant literature and criticism.
The middle-20th century saw a boom in the number of literary magazines, which corresponded with the rise of the small press. Among the important journals which began in this period were Nimbus: A Magazine of Literature, the Arts, and New Ideas, which began publication in 1951 in England, and the Paris Review, which was founded in 1953. The 1970s saw another surge in the number of literary magazines, with a number of distinguished journals getting their start during this decade (including Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, Granta, AGNI, The Missouri Review, "New England Review" and others). Other highly regarded print magazines of recent years include The Threepenny Review, ZYZZYVA, Glimmer Train, Tin House, and Zoetrope: All-Story.
One of the hallmarks of small literary magazines (particularly the small-press scene of the 1970s in the San Francisco Bay Area of California) was the fact that the editors were often poets and reciprocity was common. In other words, 'I'll publish yours if you'll publish mine' (rarely stated so bluntly) was a common attitude and practice. Contrary to the expectations of many purists, academics, mainstream publishers, etc., this did not produce the publication of as much bad poetry as one might expect. It has never been a kind of glorified vanity press (the history of vanity press is often maligned unfairly — consider Whitman).
It remains an extremely open, democratic and fertile field for poets. The Committee Of Small Magazine Editors and Publishers (COSMEP) was founded by Hugh Fox in the mid-1970s. It was an attempt to organize the energy of the small presses. Len Fulton, editor and founder of Dustbook publishing, assembled and published the first real list of these small magazines and their editors in the mid-1970s. This made it possible for poets to pick and choose the publications most amenable to their work and the vitality of these independent publishers was recognized by the larger community, including The National Endowment of the Arts which created a committee to distribute support money for this burgeoning group of publishers called the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines (CCLM).