From Our Staff | July 06, 2011

It's not easy finding The Missouri Review on the shelves. But he will!

One of the things that literary magazines and literary editors will frequently tell prospective contributors is that a writer should read our magazine before submitting work to us. I heard this advice when I was graduate school and first became interested in publishing my stories. Outside the offices of Natural Bridge, the literary magazine of Missouri-St. Louis, there was a small bookshelf filled with literary journals. Being new to literary publishing, most of the names were unfamiliar to me. Best I can remember, the shelves didn’t hold many of the big names like Ploughshares and Tin House. Mostly, the shelves were filled with journals run by graduate students, same as Natural Bridge. I distinctly remember reading several issues of Meridian, the literary journal out of the University of Virginia.

Point is, getting to know the journals is not easy. Journal editors, like ourselves, typically say vague things, such as we like “good writing.” We don’t want to say we do this or do that, because it might close us off to work that will surprise and delight our readers. Yet, magazines do seem to have certain aesthetics and taste – I can think of a handful of journals I love to read that I would never submit my work to – and when a writer is asked to read a couple of back issues, it can be overwhelming.

Poet Gary Hanna feels the same way. So, he decided to do something about it. In cooperation with the Lewes Public Library in Delaware, Hanna has created The Writer’s Library, a room free and open to the public where writers can read the literary journals that are best for their work. And, the Writer’s Library could use some donations. So if you have any copies of literary journals that you could donate, please do so! All information on how to reach Hanna is on their website, but in case you just feel the need to rush right off to UPS, here it is:

The Writer’s Library at Lewes Public Library, 111 Adams Avenue, Lewis, DE 19958. Or you can visit

Michael Nye is the managing editor of the Missouri Review.