Soundings East is the annual literary journal of Salem State University, published with support from the Center for Creative and Performing Arts. Founded in 1973, the journal is edited by graduate and upper-level undergraduate creative students under the aegis of an advisory editor from the writing faculty. Soundings East is dedicated to publishing high-quality poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. The magazine is distributed nationally, with recent press runs of 750 copies.
I wondered how and why this literary journal came to be, so I asked Poetry Editor Gregory Glenn and he kindly replied. See my interview with Glenn and a link to submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about Soundings East.
GLENN: Soundings East was established at Salem State University, then College, in 1973. Its foundation was in response to the burgeoning English and Writing programs. Originally named Gone Soft, the journal was published the same spring semester that (the now late) Prof. John “Jay” McHale, one of the world’s foremost Jack Kerouac scholars, had invited a number of the surviving Beats to speak at Salem State for the Jack Kerouac Symposium. The journal was later renamed Soundings, before settling on Soundings East in 1978.
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
GLENN: A really big one!
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but never comes in?
From our Fiction Editor, Connor Perry: I’d love to see more genre fiction!! As long as it’s not senseless violence or all just the author’s worldbuilding notes. I’ll be very preferential to character driven genre fiction.
From our Nonfiction Editor, Tom Laaser: I’m really interested in unheard voices, people on the fringe. I want to hear about well known things, but from a different perspective. For example, we hear a lot about the southern border from politicians and activists, but I want to read something from a border guard. Or maybe someone who has had what they think is a mundane job their whole lives. I bet a food inspector could give us a good story! I like stories from people who say “Oh, I’m not a writer” because 9 times out of 10 they give us some great stores.
From our Poetry Editor, Gregory Glenn (who is me): I would love to see more work from folks living outside of the U.S. — which we do receive, but I’d love more! I’d like to see people playing around with form, however liberally. For example: I receive almost zero haiku, (or tanka,) and I would be very pleasantly surprised to see that change. I like a little absurdity, I like funny stuff that doesn’t try to be funny; but I also love work that isn’t afraid to be brave, or afraid to be afraid. At the moment I’m not hearing as many voices from the “margins” as I’d like, which feels sad to have to ask for, but here I am! I’m asking for it! Please! If you see this, send me your poems!
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite journals?
Fiction Editor Connor: I’m really fond of the imagery I see in Clarkesworld, and they’ve got some short stories with fantastic pacing and structures. A lot of people go to write genre fiction for short stories and create stuff like Conan the Barbarian or Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. That’s not the stuff I’m looking for. I like the short stories that are more like The Devonshire Arms.
Nonfiction Editor Tom: I’ve always been a die hard fan of Ploughshares, I love the diversity they have, so that’s always my number one. Outside of that, I have a natural leaning toward college affiliated magazines, I find they evolve a lot over time, like the institutes they’re connected to. Some favorites that come to mind are: The Kenyon Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Yemassee, and naturally, the New England Review.
Poetry Editor Gregory: I subscribe to 32 Poems, and regularly enjoy the Adroit Journal, and Drunk Monkeys. Apart from that, I have to say I love dink-and-dunking around different journals, picking up whatever shines at the moment, or going on advice from friends.
HOPKINSON: Where can folks send submissions?
GLENN: We really encourage folks to submit their work to the journal electronically via our Submittable page:
Or if they prefer, they are certainly invited send their submissions, with SASE, to our office at the school:
English Department – MH 249
Salem State University
352 Lafayette Street
Salem, MA 01970
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
GLENN: At the moment, the general inquiries email address is out of sync, but the person they would be directed to either way is the faculty advisor, Kevin Carey — firstname.lastname@example.org
DEADLINE: February 15, 2019
SUBMISSION FEE: None
FORMS: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction