Friday, January 8, 2010

The Southeast Review.(Literary Spotlight: An inside look at literarymagazines).


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The Southeast Review comes out of Florida State University, which boasts that both its MFA and Ph.D. programs made The Atlantic's 2006 list of top graduate programs in creative writing. In fact, the journal itself is just as dedicated to teaching the craft of writing and encouraging new writers. The Southeast Review runs annual contests for fiction, poetry and narrative nonfiction, and the winners--as well as some lucky finalists--can find their work published in one of the two issues the journal produces each year.

Even if emerging writers choose not to enter one of the contests, they'll find that the journal welcomes their work. Editor Jessica Pitchford estimates that The Southeast Review publishes four emerging writers for every one established writer. And if writers need a little boost, they can sign up for one of The Southeast Review's at-home Writer's Regimen workshops, which offer writing prompts, brief craft lectures, a supportive community of fellow participants, and much more. (For additional information on Writer's Regimen, see page 9.)

The journal's sense of community extends beyond its pages and workshops. On The Southeast Review's Facebook page, the editors occasionally post calls for submissions and alerts to new features in the print publication and on the Web site. In a business where editors can seem distant and enigmatic, the posts offer a sense of personality.

Tone, editorial preferences

Like most university-based literary journals, The Southeast Review has a revolving staff of editors who bring different styles to each issue. "Overall," Pitchford says, "we aim for a balance of traditional and experimental forms."

To that end, a recent issue includes an image-rich narrative essay by Jay Shearer titled "The Summer of Ken," which tells the story of how the author's Christian parents once took in a homeless man to live in the family's basement. The issue also includes debut author Kirsten Skrinde's short story "Clown Alley," which is darkly quirky and told in broken English by the protagonist--a French clown.

Pitchford notes that the members on the journal's editorial staff hail from various parts of the world. "We strive to publish work that is representative of our diverse interests and aesthetics," she says, "and we celebrate the eclectic mix this produces."


"Our mission," Pitchford says, "is to present emerging writers on the same stage as well-established ones. We're very proud to have published the first work of many authors who have gone onto great success."

Along with first-time and newer authors, the review includes interviews with established writers--among them, George Singleton, Rick Moody, Margot Singer and John Dufresne.

The journal's Web site includes podcasts from the university's series of visiting writers, as well as links to the Web sites of numerous other literary journals around the country. "We've found that developing an online presence and social networking are critical," Pitchford says. "Part of our mission has been extending ourselves to other literary magazines and encouraging cross-Web traffic. It's a win-win situation."

Advice to newcomers

Pitchford advises potential contributors to The Southeast Review to study the journal's submission guidelines carefully. She looks for polished work presented professionally. "As [short-story writer] Skip Horack said in a recent Q&A with us," she notes, "'Edit, edit, edit, then edit some more.'"

She emphasizes the importance of a simple, concise cover letter to accompany a manuscript. She prefers a brief biographical note without a summary of, or commentary on, the work that's being submitted. "In the past," she says, "we've gotten some--quite literally--colorful cover letters. While amusing, they're usually an indicator of less-than-stellar writing."



A literary journal from Florida State University that encourages submissions from emerging writers. Semiannual. $15/year. Circ: 1,000. Types of work accepted: Poetry, fiction, nonfiction, reviews, interviews. Contests: Annual, for fiction, poetry and narrative nonfiction. Reading period: Year-round. Submission format: Online submission manager. New/emerging writers: 80%. Response: 2-4 months. Contact: Jessica Pitchford,

Melissa Hart

Contributing editor Melissa Hart is the author of the memoir Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood. She teaches journalism at the University of Oregon and maintains a blog for writers at

Source Citation
Hart, Melissa. "The Southeast Review." The Writer Feb. 2010: 40. General OneFile. Web. 8 Jan. 2010. .*****
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