10 Online Lit Mags You Should Be Reading

The so-called death of print has hardly heralded the death of literature. To the contrary, the digital age has actually inspired a resurgence of publications that are committed to literary activity across a variety of styles, genres, and mediums — stuffy academic reviews be damned. Although plenty of established print journals have now fostered an online presence, this new generation of internet-centric periodicals has taken hold of the malleable platform (and the absence of print and distribution costs) to further the creative community. To get your feet wet, here are ten online publications that you should know about — and please share any other recommendations in the comments section.

1. Moon Milk Review
Emphasizing imagination and individuality in both its structure and substance, Moon Milk Review is a refreshing departure from cohesion-obsessed traditional lit rags. In addition to publishing edgy short stories and poetry, each issue features a classic piece of fiction (ranging from Kafka to Plath to Gogol), a multi-media gallery that spotlights compelling artwork, comedy, performance, and music, as well as a monthly “prosetry” contest with a rotating guest judge.

2. BLIP
Formerly known as the Mississippi Review Online, which was one of the first and most popular online lit mags, BLIP was revamped this year as a quarterly review. Curated by a guest editor for each issue, the online magazine draws from a prestigious legacy and open-minded momentum about using the internet as a unique platform. Though each issue is seasonal, the website is updated regularly with new and thought-provoking materials.

3. Pank Magazine
Committed to improving access to experimental prose and poetry, Pank attracts daring writers and adventurous readers. With a magazine, website, and small book series, this non-profit literary arts collective has managed to reach readers in more than 130 countries around the world, proving that niche markets are hardly limiting. The online magazine is update monthly for free with audio content and a handy RSS feed — plus it’s available for Kindle download.

4. Kill Author
A literary journal “for the mostly alive,” according to its subtitle, Kill Author publishes short fiction and poetry every two months. The magazine’s manifesto identifies imagination, impact, individuality, and invention as its core pillars, promising a well-curated range of unique literature that is more than a little enlivening.

5. Bartleby Snopes
Bartleby Snopes is dedicated to finding, publishing, and inspiring the creation of great fiction. With a breakneck two stories published every week, the magazine also hosts a Story of the Month contest and publishes a magazine formatted pdf file with the editors’ favorite stories, available for free download twice a year. The publication focuses on short fiction, but the range of its subjects and styles makes up for the lack of other literary genres. In other words, you won’t find stories of marital drama, gratuitous sex and violence, or self-indulgently navel-gazey artistic angst.

6. McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
Dave Eggers’ book press and indie publishing empire (including The Believer, Wholphin, and quarterly printed McSweeney’s anthologies) has dominated the market for offbeat, idiosyncratic writing and art, but McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, his online-only affiliate, stands on its own virtual legs. Although the website often overlaps with its printed brethren, it also features a range of regularly rotated writings that vary from sestinas to short imagined monologues, food reviews to a column about massage.

7. The Exquisite Corpse
Playfully self-described as a publication that “caters to the craven complexes of overeducated esthetes while also pleasing the autodidact lumpenproletariat,” The Exquisite Corpse offers a balance of literary wit and experimentalism. This journal of letters and life aesthetically resembles The New York Times but represents a digital departure with varied categories such as Serials, Techne & Psyche, and Multimedia in addition to the usual poetry, stories, and books.

8. decomP
Published on a monthly basis since April 2004, decomP specializes in prose, poetry, art, and book reviews. In addition to literary awards for its writers and accolades for the publication itself, the formerly online-online decomP put out its first print issue this year and a best-of print anthology is currently in the works.

9. Twelve Stories
True to its name, each issue of Tweleve Stories is published when the magazine’s editors have decided on a dozen worthy pieces. Promoting “short fiction with verve,” the online journal keeps each story under 1,500 words, promising its readers succinct but quality reading that is both meaningful and entertaining.

10. Anderbo
Receiving over a million hits each year, Anderbo is one of the leading literary markets in the online community. Publishing short stories, poetry, novel excerpts, and “facts” as well as photography, the magazine also hosts yearly contests helmed by preeminent figures from the lit community (MacArthur Fellow Linda Bierds is currently judging the 2010 poetry prize).

Still hungry? Try these websites too…

Shortlist Press
Failbetter
Annalemma
Opium Magazine
The Collagist
Triple Canopy