Adam’s list of literary journals (no doubt already out of date) is testament to the astounding range of names people come up with for their journals–everything from the sober and literal to the smart and arty to the cute and cloying to the downright outrageous. Adding “Review” or “Quarterly” or “Literary” or any combination of these, despite the variety of more esoteric options, seems, in the parlance of Twitter, to be trending.
Naming one’s journal is a strange and intimate process, I’m sure. The journal I’ve been most intimately involved with has a very polarizing name: Monkeybicycle. Some, including me, think it memorable–others find it asinine. Todd Zuniga will go on forever about how the name of his journal, Opium Magazine, has caused all kinds of hardship with regard to applying for 50c3 status.
What are your favorite literary journal names? And if you’ve named one, how did you come to the name? If it’s “safe”, do you ever wish you’d chosen something more colorful. If it’s strange, do you ever wish you’d settled for something that your mother can mention in polite company? Has your journal’s name opened or closed any doors for you, or have you heard of this happening?
51 thoughts on “Introducing my new literary journal: Fuck Off And Die”
I went with Smalldoggies for mine, which will be coming back in just a few months after a long 4-5 year hiatus. I used to work with a dude who could employ hyperbole like nobody’s business. One time at work he mentioned that he used to cut his own hair with a set of clippers. He prattled on about how the clippers he knew back in his day were much better machines than the flimsy plastic contraptions he would see nowadays. To allow his audience to fully understand his point, he illustrated the clipper’s strength thusly: “Back in my day, the clippers we’d use were so powerful, you could shave the hair off three or four small dogs. And then give yourself a haircut.”
Not a day has gone by since that conversation, and this is years, mind you, when the thought of that entirely bizarre breakdown hasn’t crossed my mind.
And so Smalldoggies was born. And so I guess I have Pete Gremote to thank. Or blame.
That’s fuckin’ great.
It’s been tough trying to get the actual magazine to live up to the weight and power (glory, etc) that surrounds the origins of the name. But that’s my call of duty.
Perfectly understandable. Plus all those hairless little dogs must have pretty high expectations. Don’t let them shiver in vain!
In all seriousness, let me know if you’d like a copy of the last issue from a ways back. It was really great, and being a fan of your writing, it’d be nice to have you thinking ahead to submitting something for the return issue. Send me an email and I’ll pop a copy in the post
I named my magazine after a word that I thought was pretty, connoted a bit of mystique, and the literal meaning of which was an interesting phenomena occouring in nature. However, the first year people wouldn’t stop pronouncing it Anal Emma.
We changed the spelling so it would read softer, but that still hasn’t stopped the mispronunciations. If I ever do another project I’m naming it something monosyllabic and totally unambiguous. Like Birth or Rope. Or Birthrope, the journal of bovine birthing assitance.
what funny timing, that while i was writing a post mentioning Annalemma you were as well.
I feel like writing a story called Anal Emma now. Someone stop me.
Anyone with any wisdom whatsoever would NOT stop you from writing the story of Little Anal Emma.
I fear people may never learn to stop encouraging me.
I think I would shy away from a story titled Anal Emma…
I think I would shy away from a person named Anal Emma…
I find the use of “Review” and “Quarterly” et al tiresome. I like when as a physical being a journal feels like its name. Of course this is clearly subjective, but a journal like Annalemma, to me, looks like its name. I would say I like “McSweeneys” for the same reason, but I think their aesthetic has been in place and that the two are recognizable but I think that took some time to fit together for them.
I don’t know that I have a favorite journal name. I like ZYZZYVA, because if I remember correctly it got its name from the last word in the dictionary.
I like The Lumberyard for its connotations, and Beeswax because if I was holding a copy and someone wanted to look at it I could say “It’s none of your Beeswax, get your own” which I probably wouldn’t do, but yeah.
These are just random thoughts. I have a lot of them.
I’ll be happy to update that list if people find names that are missing. I’d like it to be as complete as I can make it. Which is an impossible task but.
Were human time infinite I’d include URL links to all of them but that would be tragically futile.
Can ya add Smalldoggies if you have a minute? Promise the whole thing will be back up and running before the summer.
Sure thing. My pleasure.
It’s between “Sliced Bread” and “Soft Targets.” Nomenclatively if not aesthetically.
Awesome. In another month or two, it’ll end up being here, link-wise. For now, nothing.
Ooh! If you’re adding to the list, could you add Artifice Magazine?*
Which is interesting, Tadd and I were talking about this last night – good vs. bad names – and we called the dang thing “Artifice Magazine” but now no one calls it that. Just Artifice. Which is fine. Might even prefer it.
I prefer it. The word “Artifice” is a good word, a strong word.
I still need to get a copy actually. It looks gorgeous, but I want to know what is inside it, too. I hear good things.
Sure thing. I’ll also add Freight Stories and a few others.
Will you add my journal: Shya Scanlon’s Kick Ass Literary Quarterly Review
It’s got a really, really small circulation, but I’ll show it to you next time you come over.
Hrmmmmmm…….Show it to me, first.
Stop oppressing me.
Hey, man, you’re the one who’s rejected everything that I’ve sent you!
It’s not my fault you’ve failed to read the submission guidelines, where it states in no uncertain terms that no work involving cats will be published.
How can writing not involve cats? Everything involves cats. The sentence you just wrote involves cats. Your comment before that involves cats (cats are the root of oppression). Even your journal title involves cats, referring as it does to the well-known literary character “Mike Scanlan,” seen in the classic Sherlock Holmes story “The Valley of Fear,” in which we find this line:
“Stooping with one of his quick feline pounces, he placed the slipper upon the blood mark on the sill. It exactly corresponded. He smiled in silence at his colleagues.”
I now smile in silence at you, Shya Scanlon. Your reference is clear, and as telling as a blood stain. I think that no more need be said.
Except to note, furthermore, that one common synonym for cat is “marten,” a word with a most curious etymology: it hails from the Proto-Indo-European word *martu- or “bride,” “perhaps on some fancied resemblance, or else a Gmc. euphemism for the real name of the animal, which may have been taboo.” Also taboo is the name “Scanlon” itself, being derived from the Irish word for “scandal” (“that which causes moral stumbling”). We can therefore comfortably surmise that the two words were once synonyms for one another.
Eh, Shya Martin?
Note also that the Urban Dictionary defines “scanlon” as “to consume 10 times the natural healthy limit of takeaway food.” Not unlike…Garfield?
I heard about your cat anthology. I have something about a cat who reads Eckhart Tolle.
Fine, you’re in.
Now add my journal’s name to the list.
Patience, patience, Shya. We don’t want to give the appearance of impropriety.
Greg, I’d love to see it! if you care to submit it.
I have a poem for your anthology, too, but much in the spirit of your comment above, all the cat stuff is entirely implicit.
How does one submit? Do you mean I have to be on the floor and lick your boots? You better have good boots.
By the way, why haven’t you stopped by my thread to decimate with your banter, like your friend SS. John gave me rights to only ban one IP address, so don’t let that stop you.
Beckett being told to STFU.
The cat anthology is for more explicit cat writing. As explicit as possible.
Which thread is that, Greg? All these different columns make my little head spin.
Oh and people can just email me cat lit. For the anthology or just in general. My email’s at my site, I think, which is linked to through my profile.
I wish there was an “applause” emoticon to use for Adam’s response. That was absolutely amazing.
I’ll accept checks. Well, no, I won’t, not without photo ID. But I’ll accept money orders.
(But not postal money orders I hate the post office.)
Freight Stories is a really solid online journal edited by a couple awesome people here in Indy, now in their 6th edition:
abjective came about because i had been interested in the concept for some time, and alterity, and ‘the other.’ at first i thought just call it ‘abject’ but i couldnt find a domain for that without tacking on journal or review or something, then abjective i noticed had more domains available and i started to think more about that, using an adjective as a name isnt something most titles are. its tough to be purely adjective with a title, and this one seemed to kind of work. then i saw the blending of objective and adjective, and more and more rambling and it ended up that way. i’ve thought lately that if it goes any further, grows to become a print concept or some other thing, i may change the name to just ‘abje’ or push that as more of a nickname. i dont know.
We had a list of about fifty names for what eventually became Barrelhouse. We spent a lot of time in a booth at the Big Hunt in DC, kicking around names and drinking, which is one of the reasons we wound up with Barrelhouse. It has a few meanings, one of which is a roadhouse or saloon of ill repute. Another is a wild, improvisational style of jazz piano. We were drinking when we thought of the idea (drinking helps “let’s start a literary magazine” sound like a good idea), and we knew that we’d basically be improvising, making the whole thing up as we went along. And it also sounded kind of cool, or at least, cooler than anything else on our list.
Unsaid is definitely a favorite; its name and aesthetic dovetail perfectly. Conjunctions works for me in that way, too.
The Quarterly, as a name, was great for its being both perfunctory and hubristic. (The Band was one of the best band names for the same reasons, with The Who coming close.) And content-wise, or, rather, for fiction, Lish’s journal still one of the standard-bearers. It’s a shame it’s defunct.
Mud Luscious: I love the name as much for the e.e. cummings association as I do for its assonance. And J.A.’s journal/press does have a loamy feel. There should be an offshoot called Puddle-Wonderful.
“There should be an offshoot called Puddle-Wonderful.”
Ha. I just said this to a friend of mine last week!
I was just going to comment on Mud Luscious, but I came late to the convo. Glad I’m not the only one digging the cummings ref and J.A.’s endeavors.
“Johnny America.” I wish I could say why. I just don’t know.
For a while now I’ve wanted to start a journal called “Sappiness,” which would accept only sentimental writing…. I might do it someday as an anthology.
In the meantime, people should submit to my cat poetry anthology! I’ll make a post officially announcing it soon—consider this part of it’s slow ongoing word-of-mouth solicitation campaign. I’ll accept any cat poetry (and I’ll interpret “poetry” quite broadly; fiction is fine). But the writing:
1. it must be about cats, and
2. it must be good.
(Really that’s only one rule though because any writing about cats is automatically pretty good.) (My advice in workshops was always “more cats!”)
My co-editor, Miss Lucy, has suggested the following titles:
. Miss Lucy’s Anonymous Apollonian Attic
. Puss in Books
. Scribaceous Whiskers
. The Tabellarious Tabby
. Uncial Miaows: A Clandestine Chirography
. The Unpoetical Puss
We’re still brainstorming over hot milk and fish biscuits.
“Thieves Jargon” is pretty badass.
I always liked Zachary German’s journal name, “The Name of this Band is the Talking Heads”
The title of my blog, .the idiom., actually came from a defunct idea between an old friend of mine and I to start up a chapbook press called The Folio Press, and having a spinoff journal called The Idiom.
We really liked the idea of “folio” as a collected body of work, and just the sound of it.
The Idiom actually is at once a love of the sound of it, the meaning behind it, and a reference to a Deltron 3030 lyric, “in prison all citizens empowered with rythm,
we keep the funk alive by talking with idioms.”
Neither of these endeavors got off the ground, and now I think the names have been snatched up by others, or at least names similar enough that I’d shy away from using them, not that I’ve enough time to keep up anything more than my blog right now anyway, let alone try to get a chapbook press going.
I had absolutely no earthly idea how to pronounce “Pindeldyboz” until I was at a bar in Iowa City with Lee Klein and heard him use it in a sentence.
My favorite journal name of all time was “Surgery of Modern Warfare.”
I like boring names.
Mad Hatters’ Review, of course: matches our unconventional, in your face, whimsical, edgy aesthetics and has political/sociological connotations, i.e., the mad hatters were poor working class stiffs who worked in closed confines and became demented from the toxins they worked with to make hats. Ahem. Sound familiar? And are we not living in The Age of Dementia?
I spent a good bit of social capital trying to get SUNY Binghamton’s journal–Harpur Palate–at its founding, to be called, instead, drum roll, Xanthan Gum. (as in, the seemingly ubiquitous food additive).
No go. I was the first fiction editor, and the journal is still around, but the name, eh, not so great–despite its not to SUNY B’s past as Harpur College.