For more than 30 years, StoryQuarterly has served as a staple in the literary community, publishing the works of both established and emerging writers. Since 2009, the esteemed journal has been produced under the auspices of Rutgers University–Camden’s master of fine arts program in creative writing.
After a one-year hiatus, StoryQuarterly is now being recast with new features and a re-envisioned focus of its content.
“I hope that our audience will identify a sensibility that is capacious in terms of content, but one that is also attentive to the sentence and to structure,” says writer Paul Lisicky, an assistant professor of English in the MFA program, who serves as co-executive editor of the journal with J.T. Barbarese, an associate professor of English.
In celebration of the journal’s new issue, StoryQuarterly 46/47, the MFA program will host a reading party at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12. The event, which is free and open to the general public, will be held in the West AB Conference Room, located on the lower level of the Campus Center. A relaunch party is also planned for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ annual conference, to be held in Seattle at the end of February.
Sporting a new design, the journal features the addition of an author interview and a non-fiction counterpart to its renowned fiction literary contest. Each issue will also showcase a selection of carefully culled works that are unique to the voices and idiosyncratic styles of the respective authors.
“We hope to identify writers who sound uniquely themselves,” says Lisicky. “One recognizes authority from the get go, from the first sentence when the story is working. It’s difficult to speak to what authority is; it’s a matter of conviction, a matter of integrity in the language.”
The magazine’s focus on the authors’ craft, and not on their accomplishments, is reflected in a balanced mix of long-recognized, respected talent and emerging writers. Lisicky notes that the new issue – featuring 22 stories in varying lengths – includes the work of Mark Doty, a National Book Award winner, and two finalists, Elizabeth McCracken and Janet Peery, as well as the first published stories of up-and-coming literary talents, such as Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, whose first book, Barefoot Dogs, is due out next year.
According to the editor, stories are considered for publication through a variety of sources, including solicited works from admired authors, prize-winning entries of literary contests, and unsolicited works submitted via the StoryQuarterly website.
Lisicky adds that the journal has served as an invaluable educational tool for the MFA students. Mike Watson, a current MFA student, serves as managing editor of the magazine, while MFA students assist in the early review stages of the literary contests.
“Students get an intimate sense of what contemporary writers are writing, and to imagine their own work under review,” he says. “For instance, they see the value of an arresting opening, a distinctive way of perceiving the world.’
Founded in 1975, StoryQuarterly began as an independent quarterly based in Illinois. Works originally published in the magazine have been selected for inclusion in the annual collections The Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize: The Best of the Small Presses, and The Best American Non-Required Reading. Acclaimed writers who have contributed to the journal include Margaret Atwood, Anne Beattie, Frederick Busch, Lydia Davis, and Jhumpa Lahiri.