2013 Winners Literary Magazine Contest

Congratulations to the winners of the 2013 Literary Magazine Contest! Please note that this contest is judged and organized by: Melissa Burton (Founder, Contest Coordinator and Organizer, Judge), Dana Livermore (Fundraiser and Promoter), Erin Lynch (Fundraiser and Promoter), Chris Beard (Judge), Kallie Falandays (Judge), Kyle McCord (Judge), Vladislav Frederick (Judge)

This contest was judged entirely on nominations!

First Place: Adroit Journal ($200)

Second Place: Spry Literary Journal ($50)

Third Place: Kalyani Magazine ($50)

Fourth Place: The Atlas Review ($25)


Here are many of the reviews for each literary magazine!

Adroit Journal

“The Adroit Journal not only creates a serious platform for many adolescent writers, but also creates a community for these writers. The founder, Peter LaBerge, is a visionary, an accomplished poet, and an outstanding leader; at the tender age of 18, he has already done so much to accomplish his vision for this magazine: “offering young writers from around the world the unique opportunity not only to submit work for publication alongside established adult writers, but also to participate in this evaluation process themselves, as part of the journal’s staff of readers and editors”.  In addition to being a literary journal primarily focused on and run by adolescents, The Adroit Journal creates an international community through the Summer Poetry Workshop (http://theadroitjournal.wix.com/adroitsummer), where a select group of young and adult writers workshop with each other and the Adroit Staff.  This magazine is absolutely outstanding and unique in its mission, in its creation, and in its influence.”

“Just great written art without all the pretense.”

“I am compelled by the variety of efforts by which Adroit seeks to give back to the community. For instance, Adroit’s partnership with the Acumen Fund, affiliation with Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights, and dedication to illuminating the trials of Cuban dissidence in Issue Four all help to render the journal socially exigent as well as literarily eminent. I love the notion of a literary journal run by a group of people who work together to hone their own literary skills while producing a literary journal that works to publish superior new writing from both young adults and adults alongside one another. The Adroit Journal is graced by a team of writers who constitute an incredibly skillful community of up-and-coming poets, novelists, and artists.”

“I think their own description says it best: It is “a print literary publication offering young writers from around the world the unique opportunity not only to submit work for publication alongside established adult writers, but also to participate in this evaluation process themselves, as part of the journal’s staff of readers and editors.” What a great way to support and inspire today’s youth (like my 15-year old daughter who hopes to become a journalist/author). Not only that, but it’s a visually-appealing magazine with excellent reading material. ”

“The Adroit Journal really isn’t just a magazine — it’s a community. We have about fifty staff member all under the age of twenty-five and a staff-member application page on our website that seeks to increase the number. We judge work together, share ideas and opinions and staff members can even send in their own work for peer criticism. I really feel that I belong to an incredibly unique group of people. Unique because we’re passionate about writing and willing our sacrifice time to focus on what we love the most. I realize these traits might seem hidden from our readers — but they really aren’t. The fact that the Adroit Journal is a hub of youths from all over the world is really reflected in each issue. Our journal is affiliated with the Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights and our fourth issue included a Cuban Dissident feature which worked with exiled Cuban poets from all over the world. We also encourage emerging writers (especially since we can relate to other young, underestimated writers) and introduce our readers to new talent. We nominate our poets and writers for the Pushcart Prize anthology, Best New Poets anthology and Plain China: Best Undergraduate Writing anthology. The Adroit Journal is a platform for emerging writers and it is also the home of a group of talented youths that you will definitely hear about in the future. I’ve been so lucky to be a part of Adroit.”

“The Adroit Journal is simply one of the coolest projects I’ve ever worked on. There are a number of attributes that make it stand out, in my mind: we feature emerging young writers alongside established ones, underscoring our commitment to quality writing regardless of background; our staff is both national—covering half the United States—and global, from nine different countries; and every member, from poetry reader to fiction editor to editor-in-chief, is in either high school or college. However, what really makes Adroit stand out to me is its humanitarian focus, especially on human rights. Our seventy-page bilingual Cuban dissident feature and our forthcoming feature with Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights represents for me what is these days a frequently forgotten quality of creative writing: it can give voice to the oppressed, forgotten, and alone, coupling our intrinsic human drive to create something beautiful with the positive social good that can come from expressing our frustrations with our nation and community. We live in an era of creative writing that emphasizes art for art’s sake, as a good in itself that should be recognized for its sublime power. While this sentiment is valuable to the development of art—in all forms—we should never let it eclipse the fact that tangible good can come from creative activity. Adroit recognizes that we can channel the imaginative power of disparate individuals toward a noble end; its editors, staffers, and contributors refuse to waste the opportunity they’ve been given to share the thoughts of inspiring individuals. For this reason, the magazine deserves the nomination of LitBridge.”

“Adroit is unique for so many reasons. We feature poetry and fiction plus art, as per the norm, but also have a specific “Other” category and have featured creative nonfiction, plays, and hybrid writing. Our staff is made up entirely of high school and college students, but we receive submissions from prominent authors, MFA candidates, high school freshmen, English teachers – pretty much everyone under the sun. We publish young people with little-to-no publication credits right alongside seasoned “professionals” and look at every piece with the same objectivity. We’re committed to young writers and hold an annual contest as well as a free online summer workshop for teens and adults alike. Our large staff comes from all over the globe (nine countries, twelve timezones, the works), creating a magazine as diverse in styles as it is in contributors. On top of all that, we’re committed to human rights, donating all of our profits to different humanitarian proceeds, including a bilingual feature on Cuban dissidence last year and continuing to work on an upcoming feature in conjunction with Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights. On top of all of that, our large staff means we have an incredibly quick response time despite our distance, but we still manage to provide personalized feedback to pieces not accepted for publication. And we’re in print!”

“The Adroit Journal is incredible because of its conception and its diversity; founded by a mere high school sophomore who is now going on into college, this student’s dream has flourished into an international collaboration which unites the most devoted literary and artistic minds of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities. The journal, now partnered with several large literary organizations such as Scholastic, is run by students completely to feature great work from established or emerging writers, including high schoolers as well as adults. The submission process and publication are valuable opportunities for younger writers to gain publishing experience as well as for experienced writers to expose their work. In addition, the Adroit Journal offers additional recognition through the Adroit Prizes in Fiction and Verse, awarded each year to outstanding submissions in poetry and prose. All of the staff, including editors, readers, and web designers, are fueled purely by a true enthusiasm for creativity and receive no salary or other compensation for their time and efforts. The fruit of our labors exists not only in a classic print publication but also online, and the journal keeps up with the times through various social media platforms with large followings. Besides its outstanding literary quality, the Adroit is also well-known for its sleek graphic design prowess and art features, not to mention its conscious and consistent emphasis on promoting human rights issues around the globe, as exemplified by our past feature on Cuban dissidents (Spring 2012) and our partnership with the Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights. Therefore the Adroit’s role expands to not only promote writing, but to promote writing with a purpose. In this manner the Adroit advances the idea that words and literature really can reshape society and the future to come.”

“The Adroit Journal is unlike any literary organization I know of, and I am privileged to work with it. Established in November, 2010, by high school student Peter LaBerge, it has since put forward seven issues, received over 4000 submissions, and accumulated a staff of 60. Its staff is perhaps the most unique aspect of Adroit; the magazine is run entirely by high school and college students hailing from places as diverse as Mauritius, Shanghai, London, and Boston. We believe that writers of any age, no matter how young, should be treated with respect and given the opportunity to evaluate poetry and fiction. For that reason, we have our annual Adroit Prizes in Fiction and Verse, which honor the best work we receive from young writers (undergraduate or high school). However, Adroit not only provides a forum for creative expression, but helps develop the skill of critiquing and discerning what forms the heart of a story. (Since I joined the Adroit staff a year ago, my ability to think and talk about aspects like characterization, structure, voice, and style has skyrocketed.) In addition, Adroit donates all of its proceeds to the Acumen Fund. Because of our global nature, we like to include work that explores multiple cultural perspectives: we had a 70-page bilingual Cuban dissident feature in our spring 2012 issue, and we’re developing another in conjunction with Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights.”


Spry Literary Journal

“While I’m a huge fan of the writers and works that the journal publishes, the most impressive part of the journal would be the two founding editors.  They run the journal with such passion and appreciation, it borders on uncanny.  They understand that it’s not only the writers that are accepted that makes the journal possible, but every person that’s willing to submit and share their work.  The primary focus of the journal is flash writing (at the very most, 2,500 words).  I’m only pointing that out because I’ve seen them write responses much longer than that to writers whose work they rejected, explaining why, offering constructive criticism and compliments, support, and appreciation.  That warmth and appreciation–the collective spirit that the submissions and publications aren’t just “writings” but expressions and products of people–is so sincerely manifested in the way that these two women run their journal; this, not to mention their talent and ambition, simply fills me with awe and admiration at what they’ve created.”

“Spry’s mission is to highlight work that makes full use of the economy of words – work that is bold, brief, and agile. We have been honored, thus far, to publish moving works both from established, award-winning writers, and writers for whom this was their first acceptance, in a variety of genres – creative nonfiction, fiction, flash, and poetry. We are completely funded by a combination of donations (from friends, family, colleagues and readers), and from the pockets of the co-founding editors. To continue to grow and honor the writers we have loved to support, and to eventually be able to award those writers and give back to the literary community as we dream to do, the award fund you provide would be a huge step. We have published two issues thus far, and are currently accepting writing and art for issue #3. Thank you for your time, and for considering Spry!”

“Spry is an outlet for brief fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and writing of any genre that could classify in the flash area. We are 100% funded by donations (mostly donations from the co-founders) and we are in need of funding to continue to grow in the literary community. We have published two issues–the second with a section that published writing influenced by the Boston Marathon Bombing as we are Massachusetts residents and were deeply touched by this event– and are currently accepting writing and art for our third issue.”

“Spry strives to provide readers with writing that is both focused and precise, as well as playful and inventive. In terms of accessibility, there’s often an emphasis placed on brevity, which makes it an ideal landscape for the average online reader. Spry also takes a topical and culturally relevant approach, allowing for an entire section of pieces devoted to the Boston Marathon Bombings, in order to engage readers and writers alike in the happenings of our modern world.”

“Spry is a literary journal launched in 2012 by two of my previous MFA colleagues.  After working for our school’s university-affiliated journal, and graduating with their MFAs in poetry and creative nonfiction, Linsey Jayne and Erin Corriveau started the journal to celebrate brief prose and poetry.  They run this journal with their own money and the tiny amount they’ve received in donations.  As Massachusetts residents, they also did a special feature titled “Beanstalks” to give an outlet to writing which stemmed from the tragedy of the Boston Marathon.  I see how hard these ladies work at making this literary journal the best it can be.  They celebrate and encourage the authors they publish, and encourage everyone who submits work to keep writing and submitting.  I know they would love to have enough money to offer prizes to help support their authors.  Spry is a growing journal that will make it far in the literary scene.”

“On the internet everything is global, so like many online lit mags, Spry’s submitters are old and young, established and new (and some don’t even speak English as their first language—though we do act locally, too (after the Boston Marathon bombing we reached out to Boston writers with our Beanstalks section). But what makes Spry really unique is our multimedia approach to the lit mag. Spry is mainly a lit mag organized around a website, but we also have a digital magazine available on Issuu, we will start publishing visual artwork in issue #3, we’re in the midst of organizing a reading involving live readers and Skyped readings at a local art gallery (and maybe even a bonfire reading, fingers crossed!), and we are also working on a podcast that will allow readers to actually hear creative pieces read by those who wrote them. At Spry, we are always trying to find new and creative ways to reach new and creative people. Basically, we try to be spry.”

“This new journal publishes new, innovative, rawly powerful works that make you feel something.”

“My relationship to Spry demonstrates not a conflict of interest, but rather, how Spry is doing exactly what you are looking for in your main criteria for consideration: “doing an excellent job supporting writers and the literary community.” As a writer, my first submission was returned with an editorial note that the readers wanted to see a re-write. My second submission was accepted but with suggested edits. During the edits, I worked with one of the co-editors, Erin Corriveau, and we developed a friendly rapport that was both professional and academic. After the publication of the issue where my work was published, Erin and Linsey invited me to join Spry as a reader, as our collaboration with editing my own work and our dynamic indicated to them that I was as serious about writing, editing, and promoting the work of writers I believe in as they are as Spry’s founding editors. I am now serving in my second reading period for Spry, and at times, I forget that I began there as a contributing author. I have benefited immensely from my time reading for Spry, and not only have I benefited, but the university-affiliated publication I work for (Antioch University Los Angeles’ Lunch Ticket) has also benefited. The Spry editors have reached out to Lunch Ticket’s editors, and as such, is in the process of creating and solidifying a sister-publication, where our contributing authors often overlap, we refer authors to one anothers magazines, and join forces to ensure the longevity and success of each publication, drawing on both magazine’s readership and submitting authors to publish the best quality writing and art from a diverse array of voices. After the bombings in Boston, the editors created a special feature for Spry, Beanstalks, where every piece submitted that celebrates the spirit of Boston, or reflected on the event, was published—no rejections, no editorial judgments, no weighing in on the craft issues or thematic content—Spry simply gave its readers and authors a safe place to speak, listen, and be heard. This encouraged people who “aren’t writers” to join in the discourse—proving that writing is a means of healing ourselves in the “real world,” and that one must not necessarily self-identify as a “writer” to be worthy of having their own unique voice heard.  If these examples are not a shining example of a new publication that is spearheaded by two women that I call “true believers,” I don’t know what is. They believe in the writers they publish enough to invite them to join their team. They don’t compete with other publications for readership; they actively reaffirm the idea that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” and encourage both lively discourse and connections with other magazines that create a true sense of community, ownership of our craft, and above all, a celebration of the idea that writing still matters, and will always matter, as long as we work together as a community of writers to nourish it and keep it strong.”


Kalyani Magazine

“This is a diverse collective of women of color writers giving ourselves a voice.  Themes for all issues are both though provoking and fluid enough to allow our writers the freedom to express their unique visions of the world.  We are a space for women to build confidence and claim themselves as writers.”

“Kalyani creates a safe space where women of color of all levels of writing experience can share their views. It’s truly about self-expression and not judgment. Contributing helped me to build the confidence to submit to other publications rather than write off my work as a “hobby.”

“This magazine gave me an outlet to be published for the first time. I was about to give up on my writing. Their encouragement boosted my confidence enough to go on to win a Barbara Deming award for writing. They deserve funding to boost other amazing writers.”

“Kalyani is a new semi-annual literary magazine by and about women of color. It provides a much needed voice to those who are often disregarded or minimized. The editors are doing an amazing job with little to no funding. Kalyani deserves the recognition.”

“I believe Kalyani Magazine is a deserving winner of the LitBridge contest because it is a forum for women of colour to be creative and be heard.  The magazine attracts submissions from all over the world, and across many diverse subjects and experiences, all related to women’s personal journeys.  I personally have found the pieces to be thought provoking, amusing, inspiring and heart-breaking.  The first issue of the magazine published in the Fall of 2012 was themed “victim” and I loved the provocativeness of the theme and the complex emotions they elicited in me, a woman reader of colour.  I loved that the stories and poems often dealt with such personal subjects that even women don’t share amongst themselves, the darkest, dirtiest, most shameful secrets we hold close.  Are they so shameful or do they feel that way because we treat them as such?  I ordered copies of this issue for my two adult daughters too, and we discussed some of these stories as they related to our personal lives.  It’s a lovely idea when women around the world, who would ordinarily have no connection to each other, can produce stories that connect them and us and women we know.  It is an idea that may be the opposite of “Victim”.”

“This magazine allows women of color writers an opportunity to provide a voice for the voiceless.  It is not only a magazine, but a community as well.  There are far few magazines that are created for the voice of women of color.  What is amazing about Kalyani is that they even give contributors a voice when it comes to the upcoming themes!  The editor really listens to the community of writers and she (along with the rest of the founders) nurture us with invitations to readings, posts about other submissions for writers of color and any other opportunities she can think of.  I’ve been published in a few other magazines, but Kalyani feels more like a family than just a magazine.”

“Kalyani is unique in that it offers minority women a platform to express their views. It has provided them an opportunity to be published and heard. The topics chosen are unique and thought provoking.”

“This is a unique magazine giving opportunities, specifically for coloured women to communicate their feelings and experiences. It is specifically focused on providing an opportunity to voice their opinions, since they did not have such an oppurtunity until “Kalyanimagazine” was started. The editors focus on choosing a variety of submissions based on international contributions. In my opinion there is no such magazine in existence.”

“I think that Kalyani Magazine really deserves the nomination because it serves a unique need and gives voice to a group that is very under represented (women of color). The magazine is very involved with fans on Facebook and at launch events, and they give full bios to readers so that we can connect and feel involved. Not being a woman of color myself, I find the the pieces are able to stay true to their respective cultures and this allows readers to be exposed to different experiences and perspectives. It is incredibly helpful that they provide a glossary for pieces that use non Western terms as it allows me to engage more deeply with the writing. Outside of giving voice to a group that needs and deserves it, Kalyani Magazine chooses many pieces with themes and ideas that transcend the group for which the magazine was created.”

“The only magazine in the world that portrays women of colour and their thoughts. We get submissions on specified themes from women of all ages, races and countries and it is interesting to take into note that all of them have a common goal. To get heard and to express.”

“Kalyani Magazine is the only print litmag magazine that represents women of colour around the world – not only through printing poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction, but through the community that is growing exponentially.  In March 2012 I decided to create a literary magazine for women of colour, and already we have already published two issues, with our third coming out shortly.  But what is unique and important is that our mission isn’t just to ensure that history includes the voices of women of colour, but to foster community so women of colour realize the voice they have. Not only do we do the usual things, such as our Facebook page which already has over 400 likes on which we frequently let our fans know about writing and job opportunities, but we go way beyond. We have a listserv for “Kalyani authors” where our published writers – some who have never even submitted to litmags and some who are veterans – can let people know about their next projects, discuss future Kalyani Magazine themes, etc.  Some of our brand new writers have gone on to be selected for VONA, and one was in an Off-Broadway play. Our author feedback gave me goosebumps (http://kalyanimagazine.com/author-testimonials/)  Each author gets a page bio in the magazine. For writers who do not yet feel comfortable going through the strict selection process we have a looser requirement to be published on our blog. But mostly – we are personal. We send every person who is rejected from being published in our magazine a personal e-mail to indicate what part of their pieces we liked because it’s very important, especially in the community of women of colour, that voices are nurtured. Even as we have grown, more and more volunteers have stepped up to ensure we can continue this. We have received replies, and even donations, in response to some rejection emails!  Lastly, and this is something I do not often say lest people think it is just for PR, since writers are opening their souls to us through their pieces they often send very personal emails.  So, since we are all human, I have sent people that I’ve never met condolence cards in the mail, follow-up emails months later to see how people are doing, and of course, congratulations! We have many projects coming up including a Write-a-Thon weekend, since many women of colour have too many responsibilities to dedicate the time they would like to their writing. We will set a theme, a few words that must be in their piece, and then select winners from the end of the writing weekend for the blog or magazine.”

“It is a magazine that creates a platform for women of color to express their feeling as writers.   It has a specific theme for each issue giving voice to the voiceless”


The Atlas Review

“Atlas is unusual for its anonymous submissions process. The editors make decisions based entirely on the work’s merits, without any bias because of author reputation or affiliation. As a result, the other contributions to issue no. 1 were focused, intensely moving reading experiences. This journal does not allow poses or merely fashionable ironic distance. The writing here says what it means and means what it says and offers an intensity of experience that transcends (or even sidesteps) the sum of its parts. As a contributor, I’ll also say that the editors provided marvelous feedback on my submission; it’s nice to know what an editor thinks about the accepted piece, beyond that she likes it. The Atlas Review runs a distinguished reading series that has had some favorable press attention, in part because of the unusual practice of pairing readers with art images projected on the wall behind the reader. All in all, this is a selective journal that is incredibly generous toward the writing itself, those who produce it, and the wider literary community that (hopefully) enjoys and comes together around it.”

“Over the past year, The Atlas Review has gone from an idea sparked while co-founder Natalie Eilbert and I were on vacation to a successful literary magazine with a first issue that has consistently received praise from editors, writers and readers. Our goal was to break the cycle of the New York publishing world by creating a magazine that included writers and artists at any point in their careers, from different communities, covering all genres and styles. The first issue featured many new and upcoming writers, including several who had never been published, whose work was selected through our anonymous submission system. Our monthly reading series is another venue for writers and artists to present their work to new audiences and always draws a large crowd. We are always looking for opportunities to reach new readers, discover new talent and build up the Atlas community. And we plan to continue doing so for a long time to come.”

“Having attended many events and met the founding editors of The Atlas Review on numerous occasions, I can promise The Atlas Review team is extremely dedicated to promoting new and unique voices in their magazine. They take their positions very seriously and are solely interested in great writing. The first issue of the magazine was filled with exceptional work, and I think that is a reflection of the team’s diligence and commitment to writers and readers alike. I cannot say I have ever picked up a lit magazine and grown interested and excited by it the way I did with The Atlas Review.”

“This magazine publishes unique and interesting content from around the United States. Breaking out of the NYC scene, they request blind submissions so that they can provide the most variety of compelling writing in their magazine. I picked up Atlas Review Issue I in a bookstore and couldn’t put it down. Each piece was interesting; there were no boring reads. I was very impressed since it was the first issue of the review.”

“The Atlas Review deserves to win this contest because it is not only the most hip and most well-crafted new literary magazine out there, but because it is also involved. TAR does a fantastic job of promoting its contributors and continuing to support them after an issue is printed, and also involves them in future issues, creating a dynamic and nurturing Atlas family. TAR is also dedicated to contributing to the larger literary scene, presenting monthly readings and involving itself on panels and in poetry events throughout New York City and outside of it. In addition, TAR is passionate about the quality and uniqueness of its magazine. The submissions are anonymous, showing that TAR is about the quality of work, no matter where it comes from. and allowing TAR to choose its contributors without pre-conceived notion or pretension. I believe all of these things make TAR not only a special literary magazine, deserving of this attention, but also a unique one.”

“I am a writer/reader who has recently had the pleasure of working with the Atlas Review editors.  As editors they were thorough, timely, and supportive.  As much as any writer hates cuts to their material, each of their edits improved the work. With such talented and devoted staff, I believe this new magazine should be fully supported.”

“The Atlas Review gets my vote for a number of reasons. It gives new and established writers a home in print, and then, through its excellent monthly reading series, gives them a face in the city: a voice on the stage. Additionally, for these readings, Atlas reaches out to the visual and musical communities as well. Music plays, art is shown, and poetry is read. Various worlds come together for events that always draw a diverse crowd, a diverse audience for the writers reading.”

“Having attended many events and met the founding editors of The Atlas Review on numerous occasions, I can promise The Atlas Review team is extremely dedicated to promoting new and unique voices in their magazine. They take their positions very seriously and are solely interested in great writing. The first issue of the magazine was filled with exceptional work, and I think that is a reflection of the team’s diligence and commitment to writers and readers alike. I cannot say I have ever picked up a lit magazine and grown interested and excited by it the way I did with The Atlas Review.”

“Atlas focuses on merit and equality. We accept anonymous submissions from all over the world, and have discovered and published previously unknown talented writers.”

“The Atlas Review stands out as a magazine that seeks the unknown and is willing to dare the abyss to stare back at us. With about 80% of our material mined from blind submissions, The Atlas Review never quite knows where, or who, the bulk of our material is coming from before acceptance. While this is not a new or completely uncommon mode of vetting submissions, what makes Atlas stand out is its willingness to take chances on material that could be viewed as raw, incomplete, or not entirely polished. We believe in constructively putting the word “edit” back into editor, actively seeking to collaborate with our authors to perfect work who’s emotion or daring reveals it as part of the real literary meat, even if it might be a little raw in the center. With this open-minded philosophy, we have published several pieces by new or unpublished authors, placing them side by side and on equal footing with more established names. In this spirit, if we are unable to publish a piece of work that truly touched us, we aim to make our rejection letter more akin to an unrequited love letter, explaining with enthusiasm and specificity what impressed us so much about the work, and why, regretfully, it didn’t quite make the cut. Every acceptance gets a similar letter, because take it or leave it,
we wish to communicate rather than merely select.”