Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Valued commodities.

Trying to catch up on my writing blogs today, and I've seen a number of discussions about literary journals--what journals you read or think are good, and how many of them are struggling to stay viable in this difficult economic climate. I suspect many of my opinions about this or that journal is a number of years old. I even have a stack of unread journals (next to my stacks and stacks of unread books) that I picked up at the last AWP Conference I attended, yet I haven't gotten to them. I most often make time to read for a few minutes every night before I go to bed, but that's still slow going.

Of course, to say something like "I wish I could ____, but I don't have time" is a cop out. You have time for the things you make time for. If you make things like writing, reading books, exercising, cooking healthy meals, spending time with your family, etc., priorities in your life, you will make time for them. Still, I have six more weeks before my wedding, where every few days I seem to break down because of all of the projects I have made myself responsible for.

Yet I would definitely subscribe to more journals if in that subscription was the hour or two it took to read the journal. I have bought some amazing-looking books this summer and have had time to read almost none of them. It must be my fantasy that if I buy the book, I will somehow make the time to read it, and therefore have a few minutes of quiet to sit and relax. If I subscribe to some journals, does that mean I will force myself to make time to read them?

Here are the journals I am thinking about subscribing to:
Field Magazine. $16/year for 2 issues. Field always seems to be one of those journals that I pick up occasionally but really enjoy something in it.
32 Poems. $14/year for 2 issues. Sure, a hipster mag, but there's great thinking material.
Fence Magazine. $17/year for 2 issues. Their content always seems fresh and new, but sometimes I think it's a little uneven, too.
The Paris Review. $40/year for 4 issues. Is anyone allowed to like PR anymore? I know they just went through a big kerfuffle where they rejected a bunch of work they had previously accepted. And really, what if what I liked about PR was the previous editor?
Prairie Schooner. $28.00/year for 4 issues. Consistently good, though never that experimental.

So that's $115 if I wanted to subscribe to all of them for a year. Or just $47 if I only did the 3 cheapest ones. I think it's good to pay money to support the things you find beautiful or interesting. If no one forks over any money, the beautiful and/or interesting things cannot sustain themselves and then no one can enjoy them. But I still think these magazines should consider including an hour or two of time with each issue so that they won't just sit on the shelf. If you were sending time through the mail, would you fold it up and stick it in an envelope? Would it be wrapped up in a ball like string? Stoppered in a bottle like perfume?

What literary journals do you subscribe to? Which ones do you not subscribe to but think you should? Among poetry, money, and time, which is your most valued commodity?

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