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Lit Mag Spotlight: New Letters

Lit Mag Spotlight: New LettersMarch’s Lit Mag Spotlight shines brightly on New Letters, the incredible journal of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Since 1934 (!), editors of this top-notch publication have sought both new and famous writers to adorn the prestigious pages. Read about a recent submission that made them do a double-take and what makes their journal especially interesting. Enjoy the interview!

CONTEST: Leave a comment on this blog post by April 3 to enter to win a one-year subscription to New Letters AND a New Letters cap, proudly worn by some of the best writers in the country (choose red or black, as pictured at the bottom of the post). But that’s not all! If readers call New Letters at (816) 235-1168 and mention the Lit Mag Spotlight, they’ll be happy to offer a two-year subscription for $12 off. That would be eight issues of New Letters for only $24 (normally $36)! Generous! This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner Yvonne, and thanks to all who participated!

 

Let the interview begin…

Give us the lowdown on your journal’s mission.  

Any magazine’s mission is to discover new writing; New Letters also intends to advance literary art itself. We make some noise about famous writers who appear in our pages, but our deeper satisfaction comes in promoting the work of exciting new writers.

Describe your ideal submission in 15 words or less.

It should be like nothing we have ever seen before.

Tell us about a piece you recently published that got the staff really excited. Why did you love it? Why did it strike a chord?

A memoir, “Born Again and Again,” by Joe Miller continues to fascinate our staff, especially the student interns—partly because Miller entirely exposes his failures as a sex-obsessed drunk in search of true spirituality. And the students also like it for its fresh, entirely unprecedented imagery.

Regarding submissions: What’s the most common turnoff that you encounter (in terms of craft)? 

I mention two: I notice a growing tendency among fiction writers to explain the motives and thoughts of their characters, rather than just let the characters speak and act. Second, I have little tolerance, as an editor, for conventional language. Some conventional phrases are clichés (stars in his eyes, shouldered a heavy load, etc.) and some phrases are merely overused (an uncertain relationship in truth, etc.). In my mind, literature demands the fresh use of conventions and diction.

What’s the most common oversight (in terms of submission guidelines)?

Writers generally handle submission guidelines well. We have a wide tolerance here for the little goofs, such as addressing me by the name of an editor at another magazine, or cover letters that explain the theme of the attached story. We invite writers to send their work, and we rejoice in all submissions.

Why is your journal awesome? 

Ultimately, what matters is the freshness, complexity, and energy of the writing itself, which I think represents New Letters well. We dislike writing that is all “style” with little spiritual depth. New Letters readers continually tell us that they find in these pages the kind of writing they don’t expect in a literary journal. We excel here in variety—interviews, memoirs, essays about literature or global torture, for example, formal poems and experimental poems, book reviews, visual art, and on and on. Variety and surprise, to me, make an exciting magazine. Pulitzer Prize-winning writers alongside entirely new voices.

Where can readers find your submission guidelines?

On our website!

Freeform. What else would you like to say? 

I edit a literary magazine; I write for literary magazines; and I subscribe to literary magazines. We are lucky to live in a time of amazing vitality in the literary world, both online and in print. That said, I want to stand up for the special aesthetic pleasure of a well-made and designed print journal. We at New Letters try to compose not only the contents for a rich art experience, but also to complement that with quality production. That means page layout, typography, paper quality, color art. Those are some of the reasons many of us fell in love with editing and publishing in the first place. Enjoy the art of book-making as part of your reading.

Be sure to find New Letters on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and check out their Tumblr!

CONTEST: Leave a comment on this blog post by April 3 to enter to win a one-year subscription to New Letters AND a New Letters cap, proudly worn by some of the best writers in the country (choose red or black, as pictured below). But that’s not all! If readers call New Letters at (816) 235-1168 and mention the Lit Mag Spotlight, they’ll be happy to offer a two year subscription for $12 off. That would be eight issues of New Letters for only $24 (normally $36)! This contest is now closed.

New Letters
New Letters

33 Responses to Lit Mag Spotlight: New Letters

  1. “Gong” me! I’m ready! After thirty plus years of ministry and countless numbers of articles, plays, stories, and personal letters, I’m eager to step on that scary stage to present my talent and wait for the editor’s applause and favorable critique, or the deafening heart rendering “Gong” of a rejection notice. Will you help me ‘New Letters Mag’ with your collection of inspiration?

  2. I have recently started writing again after a long “mommy” hiatus. I am very excited to submit some work. I need the criticism as much as the exposure! Thank you for the venue and the opportunities for new writers.

  3. What a refreshing ideal submission goal. Gives me hope when I finish a story I like but wonder “where the heck can I send this?”
    If I’m a lucky winner, I’d like to think I’m secure enough in my masculinity for the pink hat, but either would great.
    Also, love your Literary Magazine Reviews.

  4. Here is a contest within your contest: How many of your readers/writers can out-procrastinate me? I amaze myself because I know how to write… really! I wrote a play as a child, I wrote an article on a meal made by our school cooking class that got published in a local paper and I would not be sitting here in my own office in my own home if I did not write letters to debtors who were ruining my credit. I have three blogs don’t drink or smoke cigarettes or anything at this time but have yet to write three stories that I know would be great. I have been wanting to write since I was 28 but that was not even anywhere near realistic till 2001. You do the math I sucked at it going back to college in 2004. I’d like the black ball cap.

  5. Love this interview.

    While I have published a number of poems and essays, I am getting ready to start pitching a memoir, Shake That Cream, and I think New Letters could offer some great inspiration as I embark on this journey.

  6. I am finishing a memoir and plan to publish it soon. I have a couple of other books going, too. I’ve been printed many times but I’ve never finished a book. This will be exciting.

  7. As a slightly dyslexic sculptor-turned-poet, I am so glad to hear that not everything I do has to be perfect. Maybe this a place for me? ( Black looks best on my white hair.)

  8. I’m looking forward to reading the next issue. I appreciate the tips for writers. Thank you for your hard work and daring to stand out. Great magazine!
    I would like either color hat. I will wear it proudly.

  9. Opportunities only come a few times. The article is very impressive and encouraging for new writers like myself.

  10. New Letters is on my list of journals I strive for. I will keep on reading, and keep on submitting.

  11. Thank you for this clear introduction to your journal. Perhaps just one sentence from your interview says it best: “New Letters readers continually tell us that they find in these pages the kind of writing they don’t expect in a literary journal.” Mission being accomplished. :)

  12. It’s always great to welcome a new lit journal to the world…and this one has a great mission! I’m motivated to create work that will get published in New Letters!

  13. “Will the journal be as good as the interview?” I wondered. I looked. It is. Sign me up. And I’ll take the black cap.

  14. I am so glad that the writer’s trade magazines are promoting literary journals. For now I am intimidated by the prospect of online publication. Knowing that the literary mags are out there makes me feel optimistic about my chances of publication.

  15. Open, honest words of wisdom for fledgling writers. Much appreciated insights into the mission of New Letters. Planning to keep connected. Think the red hat suits my head, outlook and mission.

  16. This is a journal I aspire to be included in some day! I love your mission as a publication.

  17. Interesting article. As a writer, I am always on the lookout for new places to submit.

    If I win, I would like the black hat.

    Thanks!

  18. This article was a really refreshing take on the woes of publication; specifically with regards to submission guidelines. I wouldn’t expect to see a litmag that’s been in print so long to be so encouraging and open to submissions, including the ones that still make little gaffes when being sent in :P I’m following you guys on twitter for sure, and might send some pieces in over the next few months. :)

  19. Seems like a lovely magazine! This was an interesting read. Can’t wait to read and submit pieces to it! If I win, I would like the red hat. Thanks!

  20. I am honored to have been an intern at New Letters. Every issue features something unexpected or challenging.

  21. I’m still working on a few pieces, but this is a journal I’m definitely looking forward to read and submit to! Thank you for the interview. And if I win, I would like the black cap please! :)

  22. This is a journal I’m definitely looking forward to read and submit to!! Thank you for the interview! And if I win I would like the black cap please :)

  23. Great article! I’ve never been published but I’ve entered many challenges in Faithwriters.com. I will check out the website for New Letters as well as Facebook and Twitter! If I win I would love a red cap :)

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