New School News

MFA Creative Writing Alums Are Transforming The Publishing Landscape

To break into professional writing, young writers face the daunting task of soliciting presses, journals, and magazines to publish their work.

Sure, you can find an outlet to get your piece out there or, like many graduates of the MFA in Creative Writing, you can create your own.

Exemplifying the program’s entrepreneurial spirit, alumni have launched a number of influential outlets — from arts annuals and lit journals to bespoke diaries and indie poetry presses — driven by alternative models to mainstream publishing. Many take a collaborative approach, working with New School faculty members and alumni to feature work by the university community and partnering with other organizations on boundary-pushing projects.

Since its inception 20 years ago, the MFA Creative Writing program has equipped students with the skills and resources needed to develop the means to publish themselves and others. In the Writing and Publishing Lab, students use new and traditional technologies to produce works that combine text and images while taking part in project-based internships. In Freeman’s Journal Seminar, they help produce a professional journal distributed by Grove Press.

Graduates aren’t only entering the existing publishing landscape but also shaping and transforming it.

The following are just a few of the groundbreaking presses, journals, and magazines founded by MFA Creative Writing alumni. If you’re looking to get your work published, try dropping them a line.

The Agriculture Reader is a design-driven limited-edition arts annual founded by Jeremy Schmall, MFA Creative Writing ’07, in 2006. A design work in and of itself, the Agriculture Reader prints each of its issues in editions of 500 with letter-pressed or otherwise hand-detailed covers (drawings, cutouts, stickers, stamps). Contributions to the Agriculture Reader have been featured in Best American Poetry and Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading. The journal itself is included in the collections of several libraries and museums, including MoMA.

Augury Books is an independent press based in New York City, co-founded by Kate Angus, MFA Creative Writing ’09. Committed to publishing innovative work by emerging and established writers, Augury Books seeks to promote diversity among the reading public. Authors have received awards such as the O. Henry Prize for short fiction and the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award.

Birds, LLC is an independent poetry press based out of Austin, Minneapolis, New York, and Raleigh and co-founded by Justin Marks, MFA Creative Writing ’04. Since its inception, the press has published several full-length poetry collections, including one by alum Dan Magers. Specializing in close relationships with authors, Birds, LLC believes that great books are born of collaboration between editors and authors.

Bloof Books was founded in 2007 by Shanna Compton, MFA Creative Writing ’02. Bloof’s purpose is simple: to support poets by publishing paperback and handmade editions of contemporary poetry. Staff members approach their work as a collaborative practice; each poet published by Bloof becomes a member of the publication’s collective and is invited to actively participate in the selection, creation, publication, distribution, and promotion of its work and the work of collective members.

Coldfront magazine was founded in 2006 by Graeme Bezanson, MFA Creative Writing ’07; John Deming, MFA Creative Writing ’07; and Melinda Wilson, MFA Creative Writing ’07. Taking their cue from influential music review website Pitchfork, the editors launched Coldfront as a space for poetry criticism. The publication now includes the Poets Off Poetry section, where poets write about music, and the Vispo section, where they publish original visual poetry. Contributors to Coldfront include poets Rae Armantrout and Stephen Burt and musicians Thurston Moore and Andrew Whiteman.

H.O.W. Journal was co-founded by Alison Weaver, BA Liberal Arts ’01 and MFA Creative Writing ’05, as an intellectually and aesthetically stimulating art and literary journal featuring established and emerging artists. The journal, whose title acronym stands for “Helping Orphans Worldwide,” donates its profits to various orphan-related humanitarian causes. The launch of each issue, which is released biannually, is accompanied by a fund-raising event that promotes the journal and raises money for and awareness of the charity being supported.

Luna Luna magazine is a bespoke diary for authentic social, cultural, and artistic ideas founded by alum Lisa Marie Basile, Creative Writing ’12, in 2013. It includes features, essays, and interviews on everything from sex and feminism to the occult and the arts. Luna Luna is staffed almost exclusively by women, though the magazine welcomes all voices.

The Mackinac was founded in 2013 by Brookes Moody, MFA Creative Writing ’12, and Lenea Grace, MFA Creative Writing ’12. The publication (whose title is pronounced like “Mackinaw”) is an online poetry magazine that bridges the divide between nostalgia and the immediate, the seen and the unseen, and the best of emerging and established voices. The magazine has evolved to include video trailers for each new issue, companion playlists, and even liquor pairings.

MoviefiedNYC is website of movie musings, reviews, lists, and discoveries for the cinephile, founded by John David West, MFA Creative Writing ’09. With a focus on critical thinking, the site shares information on new films made by up-and-coming filmmakers and provides original features on mainstream film releases.

The Seventh Wave is an online and print arts and writing quarterly co-founded by Zeina Abi Assy, MFA Creative Writing ’15; Joyce Chen, MFA Creative Writing ’15; and Brett Rawson, MFA Creative Writing ’15. Combining essays, poetry, fiction, and art, each edition focuses on a single social issue, examining it through a variety of different lenses.


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