lit mags and gift bags

K11 front cover

I’m getting Kokako 11 ready to be sent to the printer at the moment, so I’ve been thinking about journals, subscriptions and the oft repeated complaint that more people submit to lit mags than ever subscribe to them. In the case of Kokako, we have almost as many subscribers from the USA as we do from New Zealand. Which is great in many ways – international exposure, wide base of contributors etc. But NZ Post putting their international prices up recently has taken a bit of the pleasure out of it. Oh well, swings and roundabouts.

Which got me thinking about the literary magazine scene here in New Zealand. Quite a bit changed in the three years I was away – JAAM and Sport dropping their review sections was a pity. And both are now annuals. Enamel has appeared, and Glottis seems to have vanished. And no doubt there are numerous others that I’m not even aware of.

So, which literary magazines do you read? Which do you subscribe to? Which is your favourite, and why? (We’ll restrict it to printed magazines for now.)

Feel free to add a magazine in the poll if I’ve omitted one you know and regularly read/ subscribe to. Use the comments box to say what it is you most like about your favourite mag. As incentive, one comment will be randomly selected to receive a copy of the latest issue of the US litmag SubTropics.

Go to!


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12 thoughts on “lit mags and gift bags

  1. I get Takahe free for doing the accounts and admin (not really free, it is many hours work!), and I buy JAAM and Sport at Scorpio as it doesn’t seem worth subscribing to a journal that only comes out once a year. So I guess I don’t actually “subscribe” to any. I used to subscribe to Bravado and Poetry NZ, stopped Poetry NZ because I can’t understand half the contents, and Bravado because we were really short of money for a bit – I was thinking of resubscribing to it.

    Which is my favourite? Hard to say – Takahe looks the best on my bookshelf. JAAM and Sport probably have a higher standard of contributions (which are more comprehensible than those in Poetry NZ) but I do like Takahe’s commitment to encouraging emerging writers alongside more established ones. We don’t have that many journals in New Zealand and I think they all have an important role to play.

  2. In my experience with JAAM, we certainly don’t have anywhere near as many subscribers as submitters either. We’d be on a much sounder financial footing if we did! But I kind of understand. When filling in your poll, I was a little embarrased at how few journals I read regularly. I read most of them irregularly, but I always mean to do better. But, then again, I’m not sure I can manage to read anything regularly these days unless it has an RSS feed.

    • I have to admit, these days I probably spend as much time reading a computer screen as I do reading paper publications. Well, if you take reading in the bath out of the equation …

      Helen, what was the rationale behind JAAM dropping the reviews section, do you know?

  3. My favourite magazine is JAAM, but that’s mainly because it’s the literary magazine that I’ve had the longest association with, and of all the magazines, the one which is likely to have the most contributors I know. Also, I’ve guest-edited an issue of JAAM, which gives me a vague and largely unearned feeling of proprietorship.

    I like the design of Takahe, but on the other hand, I find the smaller-format magazines, such as JAAM, easier to carry around with me & dip into.

    I’m surprisingly unsure which mags I currently subscribe to; I said yes to two in the poll, but in fact, I’m pretty sure I subscribe to JAAM as well.

    I added New Zealand Books as an “other”; NZBooks publishes poetry and sometimes fiction (in its Summer Special), and I usually read it cover to cover.

    • I thought about adding NZ Books to the list, but wasn’t aware that they also published poems. I mentally had (have?) them in the same category as The Listener and North & South, but thinking about it, they certainly have a literary (rather than a news) focus. Are they still published in semi newspaper format, or do they have a spine? (In the book format sense?)

  4. I think the poems in New Zealand Books may be requested by the editors, rather than submitted. Still semi-newspaper format, as far as I know, which I find offputting.

    Tim, it’s interesting what you say about the format. Every so often we discuss changing the format of Takahe, but the current format was chosen to fit the demands of New Zealand Post, basically, especially for posting overseas. It is just under the weight and thickness that we can send overseas at letter rate. If we reduce the page size and make it thicker, our postage costs will go up, also it becomes harder to lay out the fiction although the poetry still works. We end up with more white space and therefore less text per square centimetre. I think the fact that we have feature artwork also means that the larger page size works better.

    • I’d always wondered about Takahe‘s format.
      Regarding NZ Books – I have to admit that I’m a little put off by the semi-newspaper format, especially when they want $40 for four issues. I know it’s a petty thing to quibble over, but I like to be able to keep my litmags in a bookcase, and newspaper format just disappears. Does anyone subscribe to the electronic version?

  5. I subscribe to Kokako and Valley MicroPress at present as I’m a haiku, and just lately, haibun, writer. Having just become part of the Bravado Editorial Collective and now being their regular interviewer of the cover artist, I receive every copy of that. I’d like to subscribe to more magazines but just don’t have the funds at present. But as my tastes change and grow, so do the mags I subscribe to.

    My favourite is Kokako because of the content – haiku and related forms. I’d like to see contributors’ locations put alongside their names – I didn’t realise so many came from America. Looking forward to the next issue!

  6. Re NZ Books: they do still use that semi-newspaper format. I’ve had two poems published there, and both were submitted rather than requested. As far as I know, they haven’t changed that policy.

    The only literary magazine I receive electronically is “a fine line”, the NZ Poetry Society magazine. I read a lot online, but find it a lot easier, in general, to read literary work in print format. Reading a literary magazine as an e-book (e-mag?) on an e-book reader would be interesting.

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