Barren Magazine is an online literary publication that features fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and photography currently open for submissions for issue No. 11 with the theme of oppression, fervor, color, and community justice. Submissions are rolling and prompts are provided for each themed issue.
Per their Info page, “We revel in the shadow-spaces that make up the human condition, and aim to find antitheses to that which defines us: light in darkness; beauty in ugliness; peace in disarray. We invite you to explore it with us.”
I was curious how and why this literary magazine began, so I asked Publisher / Executive Editor Jason D. Ramsey a few questions to find out. See my interview with Ramsey and a link to submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about Barren Magazine.
RAMSEY: Barren Magazine is an online literary magazine that explores the depths of the human condition. We feature poetry, short fiction, flash fiction, creative nonfiction, and photography for hard truths, long stares, and gritty lenses. We revel in the shadow-spaces of the human spirit, and aim to find antitheses to those things that define us: light in darkness; beauty in ugliness; peace in disarray. We publish a full issue each month based loosely on a set of submission prompts. We started as one (me), and in ten months have grown to a volunteer staff of 28. We have published wonderful people from around the globe (47 US states and 38 countries), and are a safe, inclusive space.
HOPKINSON: How/why was Barren Magazine originally started?
RAMSEY: I wanted to create a literary magazine with a unique mission and aesthetic — a visually striking publication with bold, original writing that pushed the boundaries of traditional journals. I started designing and building the Barren brand in April 2018, in response to a poem of mine that was published in a small, dystopian British e-zine called ‘The Bees Are Dead’, and released the first issue four months later.
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
RAMSEY: Our target reader audience is anyone who appreciates fine writing and photography that explore that more introspective side of life.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
RAMSEY: We look for work that levels us, but not in an obvious, dramatic way. We want writing that gives us pause, makes us think, shakes us. We look for the subtle, the quietly devastating. Most of all, we want work that is real — gritty, true to life, from the heart. We welcome writers and photographers of all skill levels to submit material to us.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
RAMSEY: We read and appreciate each submission. Honestly, we receive such a variety of material that we don’t often find ourselves wishing to publish specific things. Having prompts for each issue has helped with this. For our upcoming issue, I would love to see some thoughtful, biting commentary on oppression, fervor, color, community, and justice.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
RAMSEY: We have a great fondness for many lit mags and journals. We have great rapport with many editors, and are honored to be included in the literary community. We admire major players like The Sun Magazine, Barrelhouse, Adroit Journal, Indiana Review, Glass, and Rust + Moth, but we also are big fans of newer entities like Hellebore, Rhythm and Bones, Kissing Dynamite, and Empty House. Our editors wanted to give a shout out to the following as well: Oxford American, Bitter Southerner, SWWIM, Button Poetry, Split Lip, FlashBack Fiction, and Sugar House Review.
HOPKINSON: Where can folks send submissions?
RAMSEY: We are open for submissions on a rolling basis. Please be sure to check our submission page (barrenmagazine.com/submissions) for information on our current submission call — we have a different set of prompts for each issue. We are currently accepting submissions of poetry, flash fiction, short fiction, creative nonfiction, and photography.
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Rolling/themed
SUBMISSION FEE: None
FORMS: fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and photography