Why Read Literary Journals

Each edition of a literary journal is something unique and special, like an ice cream cone with sprinkles. Each sprinkle (story) has a different flavor. The book starts from the book cover and goes all the way to having a diverse set of authors presented in the journal each time with an array of poems, comics, fiction, non-fiction, etc. inside 200-300 pages.

Picking up a journal starts with the cover. Literary journals have a unique feel to them compared to books. They don’t quite have that paperback or that hard cover feel, but it’s something unique to help you understand that what you are picking up and about to read is truly an incredible experience.

When I first was exposed to literary journals at the start of college, I didn’t understand them. In fact, I dreaded reading short fiction, and as a creative writing major, I dreaded having to write short fiction too. After starting my college courses and going through workshop classes with my own material, that dread turned into a love and a huge appreciation of the ice cream cones and, of course, the many sprinkles I get exposed to as an undergraduate. One of the sprinkles I truly enjoyed as an undergraduate was the story “I Have a Stapler.” Two of my professors pulled it out in two different classes the same semester and it secretly captivated me. It’s a simplistic story that tells a great deal in a very short amount of time, and if you get the chance to spare five minutes of your day, I recommend it, as did my two professors.

Each story that is placed into a journal stems from a similar character that the journal takes on. The journal “Booth” has a personality of being quirky and weird yet very enjoyable. There’s also a journal, called “Pangyrus,” that holds the identity of sharing different cultures and ideas from the world, and not just the American ideal. Also, the journal “The Common” has a great eye for descriptive detail. Having these differences allows the reader to pick what kind of journal they can relate to the most and what kinds of stories and topics they may be more inclined to read.

Every story or poem in the journal is something different and you never know what you’re going to get. One story could be a heartfelt romance, the next a humorous story about a dog, and following that, a poem about politics. Everyone I know that has read a literary journal has found something in it, even if it’s a four-line poem, that they enjoy.

Getting a taste of everything is important, and that is what these literary journals do. Maybe you’re not much of a comic person, but there is that one comic in your favorite literary journal that you force yourself to read. Getting exposed to different kinds of creativity and stories is important for any reader and writer to learn unique ways of storytelling. You may also learn to love that comic too.

Not only is every story different, each edition of the journal holds a diverse array of authors. Not one journal will have the same groupings of authors in one book. If you don’t like the stories of the author that wrote that ten-page short story, turn the page, maybe you’ll like the poems of the next writer presented in the journal. This is also a way of getting exposed to the new up and coming writers that could have a best selling novel out in the next five years. Literary journals are the beginning of any writer’s career, and a way to get exposure to readers like you.

After reading a literary journal, you are probably one of the few people that actually knows it exists. Holding that entitlement of being someone to discover an author and piece of art is something not many can say. You’re the adventurer on a journey. Opening yourself up to literary journals teaches you to experience new artistic stories from the world and also embrace many different kinds of sprinkles from that giant ice cream cone you just bought.

Kristin Kaschalk– Kristin Kaschalk

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