ARKANA UPDATE

by the Arkana Staff

Hello friends of Arkana! We are now reading for our fourth issue, and we’re on the lookout for some new work that questions, explores mystery, and discovers and uncovers the overlooked, misunderstood, and the silent. Keep your fiction and creative nonfiction under 4,000 words total, your poetry up to three poems, and your illustrated narratives or scripts short enough to fit in on our website.

We’re specifically looking for historically underrepresented writers, especially writers of color, writers in the LBGTQ community, and writers with disabilities. Arkana‘s mission is to give a platform for marginalized voices, so if you are in one of these groups, we need to see your work! Another of our goals as a journal is to represent works whose genre or form has been historically underrepresented in literary magazines. In our second issue we included two translations, and in our third issue we included an illustrated narrative. We’d love for more translations or illustrated narratives, but we’re especially hunting a stellar short script, for the stage or screen, that we could include in our fourth issue. So if you’re working on a script or have a killer script idea, please send write up and polish your script and send it our way.

We accept work from writers of all shapes and sizes, writers with fancy MFA degrees and writers still in high school, writers from our home-base of central Arkansas to writers from around the world. Plus, we include an audio feature with our issues—so, if you’re accepted to the journal, you’ll literally get to have your voice heard.

Stay tuned with the Arkana blog to find out more about what’s happening with the journal and our staff. And if you’re interested in submitting, check out our Submit page on our website, and read some of the notes from the editors under the Arkana News heading on our blog to get a feel for what our editorial teams are thinking when they read submissions and put together an issue of the journal.

Please submit—we want to hear your voice!

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Issue 3 Notes from the Editors: Fiction

A message about the fiction included in Arkana‘s new issue.

By Liz Larson, Fiction Editor

Working on Issue 3 of the Arkana this fall has been a rewarding experience. It’s been daunting as well, like when our submissions for fiction tripled for this issue’s iteration. (And believe me, there was quality as well as quantity.)

But it all just means that things are working well. We are developing our potential to better partner with underserved/underexposed writers as well as cementing the kind of journal we want to be known for in the writing community.

The staff worked together to further develop our cross platform outreach innovations (social media outlets, new genres, interviews, and audio files) to produce quality work within Issue 3 that will hopefully with its intentionality open more doors to a broader audience.

We’ve had steady growth of readership throughout the United States thanks to pieces like “Empty as Churches” by James Ulmer and “Shelter” by Brent Fisk. We are also expanding our global connections with submissions like “In the Forests of the Night” by Bhavika Sicka and the two flash fictions “The Obituary” and “The Poets Registry Office” included in “Two Conversations” by Christine Brandel.

The four fiction selections for Arkana’s Issue 3 weave together thematically in their deference to the magic of place. With our commitment to mystery, a sense of wonder, and dedication to under-represented voices as stated in our mission statement we thoroughly enjoyed each piece for its adherence to settings and tone, as well as overall polished writing. Beyond that, each piece’s commitment to imagery showed in their crisp and efficient gateways into their respective narratives.

Arkana‘s fiction readers, who screen and discuss what to include in each issue, did a fantastic job working together to choose the four pieces for Issue 3. Their dedication to showcasing the best ensemble of fiction made a huge impression on me (and made my job all the easier!).The fiction readers for this issue, C.F. Lindsey and Victoria Mays, and Cassie Hayes displayed insight and a willingness to put in long hours reading through many outstanding submissions. I hope we get just as many and then some for the next issue. (Hint, hint—send more work our way!)

Finally, I need to thank the leadership of Arkana: Dr. Jenny Case, Supervising Editor and Cassie Hayes, Managing Editor of the journal. Whenever I needed guidance, they were always there with suggestions. They made all questions from staff seem worthwhile, even my new to the role ones. They modeled engaged leadership to me and the rest of the Arkana staff.

So head on back over to the main Arkana page and dive in to the wonderful pieces we laid out for you. You won’t be disappointed with any genre you pick. But since I am partial, read the fiction first!

Fiction included in Issue 3:
“Shelter”
“In the Forests of the Night”
“Empty as Churches”
“Two Conversations”

Check out these stories and more by exploring our third issue: arkanamag.org


Liz Larson is a member of the Arkansas Writers MFA Program at the University of Central Arkansas. She is a bigly believer in risk-taking. Though fearful of falling down, she will do it with aplomb.

Issue 3 Notes from the Editors: Poetry

Third time’s the charm: a look at Arkana’s poetry submissions.

by Mikayla Davis, Poetry Editor

This year I’ve had the absolute pleasure to act as the poetry editor for Arkana’s third issue. Having worked on both of the previous issues, and being impressed with the work we’d received, I was looking forward to seeing what this submission cycle would bring. And I was not disappointed. Not only did we receive far more submissions, the quality of the poems were, at least in my opinion, higher as well. It made it difficult for the poetry staff to narrow down our top choices.

As such, there were a larger number of tiered rejections that went out this year for poems that were either stellar content-wise, and just needed that little kick to boost the language, or had beautiful diction, but just needed to give us an idea to grasp onto. We really hope that everyone who didn’t get into this issue resubmits in the future, because we loved seeing all the different writing this issue.

However, what the quality allowed us to really focus on for this issue were the poems we thought best represented Arkana’s missions: fostering a sense of shared wonder with work that asked questions, explored mystery, or worked to discover and uncover the overlooked, the misunderstood, and the silent. While this is something we always look at, and strive for, there are times where I think we struggle with it. But now, with our third issue, we’re beginning to really get our feet on the ground, and it shows in our accepted pieces

The pieces we accepted this issue seem to almost share a sense of loss, which I think is a feeling that more and more of us are able to identify with these days. The poems familiarize us with the feeling of being weighed down by inequality, and the responsibilities placed on us by outside forces. The images were some of the most striking I’ve seen, and stick with me even as I shut my eyes. Each poem is set in a different place, and gives us that sense of wonder, but there is something familiar with each one as well.

I hope that our next issue presents us with work that is equally mysterious and familiar, as beautiful in its language and the images presented as the four poems we accepted this issue were. I hope that you all will be encouraged to submit to Arkana, read the past, present and future issues, and share our posts so that we can get this fantastic work further out into the world.

Poetry included in issue 3:
“Grandma’s living room of false gods”
“Sunflower”
“My Beautiful Radium”
“Mad Woman”

Check out these poems in Arkana‘s new issue here: arkanamag.org


Mikayla Davis is a UCA MFA candidate who specializes in poetry while dabbling in fiction. After getting her undergraduate degree at Eastern Washington University, she got lost in two-year business degrees from the local community college before finding her way back to the page. She has a love for cats and magic and has been published in various print and online journals.

ARKANA UPDATE

by the Arkana Staff

TODAY our brand new issue went live on our main website: arkanamag.org! This issue contains twelve new works of literature, including four short stories, four poems, an illustrated narrative, a work of creative nonfiction, and two author interviews.

The short stories range from the exploring the magic of nature in “In the Forests of the Night,” to coming-of-age tales as kids encounter life’s complexities in “Shelter,” to the supernatural mysteriousness of “Empty as Churches,” to the humorous anecdotes of “The Obituary” and “The Poets Registry Office” in “Two Conversations.”

The poems—“Grandma’s living room of false gods,” “Sunflower,” “My Beautiful Radium,” and “Mad Woman” deal with madness and hate, family and place, and all touch on our mission statement’s promise to “seek and foster a sense of shared wonder.”

The illustrated narrative, “Being Rita,” is a beautiful work pairing visuals and the written word, both mediums coming together to portray the confliction of having difficult or unpleasant family members.

The creative nonfiction, “To the First Time Flier,” presents a narrator musing on America and privilege when talking with an immigrant on a flight to America.

And, finally, members of our staff were lucky enough to get to interview two authors for this issue—Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow and the forthcoming An American Marriage, and Alexander Weinstein, author of the speculative fiction short story collection Children of the New World.

Also, we’re super excited to feature four original works of art with some pieces in this issue. Make sure to check out Sarah Simon’s work with “Grandma’s living room of false gods,” Thomas Gillaspy’s work with “Empty as Churches,” Deborah Torley Stephan’s work with “In the Forests of the Night,” and Rollin Jewett’s work with “Two Conversations.”

We hope you enjoy all the new work we uncovered through reading through submissions and through some wonderful writers and authors taking the time to send work our way. Anyone who wants to come is invited to our Issue 3 launch party, and stay tuned to our blog for some notes from the Issue 3 genre editors about the work included in the issue.

Head on over to arkanamag.org to start reading Issue 3 or our archived issues now!

Issue Three Launch Party

An invitation to the launch party of Arkana’s third issue.

by the Arkana Staff

YOU’RE INVITED to the launch party for Arkana’s third issue! The party will be held on December 5 at 5pm at the Lantern Theatre in Conway, Arkansas. We’ll be celebrating all the hard work of our staff as well as the work of our twelve new contributors that will be included in our upcoming issue.

We’d love to see you there!

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Diversity In Publishing: Will It Ever Be Rectified?

A personal discussion of the need for diversity in publishing.

by Victoria Mays, Scriptwriting Editor

I am black. I am a female. As a writer, those very distinct qualities that are genetic and unalterable are the very things I fear being discriminated against in publishing. Though one may believe the fight for gender equality in the field has been conquered, the question still remains: Did we fail to include minority women? In my case, black women. So, that still leaves me at two strikes. When I was asked to do a presentation over diversity for class, I wasn’t surprised by the numbers for the lack thereof in the industry. It wasn’t news to me that the fight still isn’t over and that it may never be over.

As a black woman, I feel the need to create literature that will be empowering and uplifting to people that can identify with me personally or know someone that can. Throughout my high school and early college career, I studied some of the so called greats in the literary canon: Virginia Wolff, Ernest Hemingway, Margaret Mitchell and Oscar Wilde. Though I admire and respect the energy and passion they put into every work that has gained them the fame they have today and wouldn’t dare rob them of it, I have always wondered why there weren’t any black writers amongst the literature we read. Writers like Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Walter Mosley and Richard Wright that captured the essence of the black soul and shared the struggles that my ancestors had to endure and overcome in their time.

Being a writer of the times, I feel the call to represent the beautiful and ugly things that black people have encountered in their human experience. In his essay, “Diversity is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing,” Jame Older stated, “Publishing is always negotiations between what you want to say, what you can say, and what society will allow you to say.” Not only do I have to worry about publishing quality work, but also facing the fear of presenting quality work that isn’t accepted because of the message that it conveys. Will it be another story thrown into the pile of work that doesn’t contain the idea of a universal character that “generally indicates a false neutral that more or less resembles whiteness?” (Older)

The VIDA Count, a system that “started when the cofounder Cate Marvin sent out an email addressing the lack of feminist conversation in contemporary literature,”  has expanded to include data that addresses race and ethnicity, gender, sexual identity and ability (Prufer). The data covers information for a variety of publications. While we still have work to do as far as increasing diversity in the publishing realm, VIDA shows us where change and progress is needed. If everyone in the industry were to get on the page and use the data that is free and readily available to the public, we could take steps in the right direction.


Victoria Mays is pursuing a MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Central Arkansas.  She is a freelance editor and writer.  When she’s not crafting stories, she is inspiring people through her blog, Soul-Liberation.

Keeping our heads above water: can the lit mag survive?

The struggle for lit magazines to survive in the 21st century.

by Gabrielle Lawrence, Poetry Reader

“The problem is not whether print will survive, but how literary publishing adapts to a world where to publish something has lost value,” Jane Friedman writes in an article titled “The Future Value of the Literary Publisher” from Literary Publishing in the 21st Century. It’s no secret that the shift from print to digital sent the publishing industry into a crisis, and with literary journals already existing in a vacuum or a “null economy” as scholar and founder of Versal Megan Garrcalls it, there’s no clear view of the future of publishing. In a time where literary magazines are seemingly becoming irrelevant and dying out, why should we still publish? Editors, readers, and writers are losing faith in the power of literary journals, but we recognize it’s value in contributing to the richness of our literary community.

Megan Garr interprets the literary journal economy as an industry dependent upon both capitalism and the gift economy. Capitalism is of course referring to the exchange of gifts and services such as press and postage. The gift economy refers to the exchange of time, content, and recognition on behalf of the authors and the editors with hopes of greater future returns such as exposure.

However due to the imbalance of the industry, our most common circular business model is failing. That is, hoping that sales from magazines and profits from community-run programs will pay for the expenses of the magazine. For journals without external funding from universities, endowments, etc, we’ve seen this model deteriorate over and over again. There just seems to be no money in the literary magazine world anymore; in the publishing world anymore. Now that publishing is effortless thanks to the digital world, it seems as if there’s no esteem in the practice let alone profit to be made. With externally funded magazines competing in the same space as volunteer and donation based magazines, and the failure of the recommended retail price not offsetting the costs of production and distribution, the industry seems “doomed to need something outside of itself to survive” Garr says.

So why do we do we continue to pour our own time, money, and resources into something that continues to unravel? For the good of the literary society? For recognition and reputation? For the sliver of a promise for greater future gain? Both Garr and Friedman suggest we start there, with the questions that mean the most. Discover the why, and build it into a brand. Focus on branding our publications and drawing out a devoted readership. Focusing inward, on our business models and really crunching the numbers. Or banding together and consolidating in an effort to stretch resources and pool our shares of the market. The point is most literary journals are barely staying afloat, as is the publishing industry. Arkana takes its mission seriously, we’re passionate about telling and sharing stories, and we recognize something needs to change. We can start by breaking away from old habits and having more open and honest conversations about our purpose, our finances, our business models, and how to adapt for the rapidly evolving future of publishing.


Gabrielle Lawrence is a poet and writer.  She is pursuing her MFA in poetry at the University of Central Arkansas. Her writing can be found in Gravel Magazine, Words Apart Magazine, The Chaos: Journal of Personal Narrative and West Wind Literary Journal.

ARKANA UPDATE

by the Arkana Staff

We’ve received so many awesome submissions during our issue three reading period that we’re having some tough discussions about what to include in the upcoming issue of the journal. Thanks so much, anyone who sent work our way!

In November, we’ll be transitioning from reading/discussion mode to production mode—putting together the issue. This means the glamorous work of copyediting, proofreading, matching artwork with written work, reading and re-reading the issue, and getting it put up on our website. For a bunch of lit nerds like us, despite the hard work of production mode, we’re ready for the fun of formatting the issue and making public the work we (and YOU, writers, artists, and readers) have uncovered.

Recently, some changes have appeared on our website. We’ve added an Archive page to help you get to the work that you want to read. So feel free to comb through our back issues before the new issue drops in early December.

Also, on our About page, take a look at our masthead, updated with the new issue’s staff, comprised of grad students here at the Arkansas Writers MFA Program. Want to hear from these folks? Follow our blog to hear the voices of the people dedicated to the misunderstood, overlooked, and silent.

The blog itself has been revamped to make navigating to old posts easier. So check out the menu at the top of the page to find some thought-provoking writing about everything from the publishing world and grad school life to pop culture and movies.

We’re hard at work on the new issue! Meanwhile, keep up-to-date with the workings of Arkana by following us on social media (Twitter, Facebook, and our brand-spanking-new Instagram). Or just head back over to our website and get lost in writing of mysteries and marginalized voices.

As always, thanks for reading, and happy writing!

Writing is Life

A proclamation of the writing life.

by Victoria Mays, Scriptwriting Editor

One day, we will all pause and ask ourselves: Did I truly live the life I desired?  Am I satisfied with where I am?  Did I make the most of my time?  At the young age of 23, I am already asking myself these questions.  Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I expressed my interest and passion for writing, but I was afraid to embrace and become it.  In consequence, I allowed myself to be sidetracked and influenced by what other people wanted me to do and their perceptions of what a “successful” career was.  In journeying on their path, I lost myself.  I stopped writing.  I stopped dreaming.  I stopped living.

For awhile, I felt like I was an alien in this world.  I was just going through the motions.  When I brought writing back into my life, I became reacquainted with myself and started to create my place in this world.  During this time and even to this day, writing is teaching me more about myself.  It has taken me places within that I never knew existed.  Writing is a part of me.

While having the passion for writing is great and necessary, having the skills and knowledge of writing is just as important.  For this reason, I decided to pursue my MFA in Creative Writing.  I know that being a part of the program will provide me with professors that are experienced, have a passion for writing, and a desire to inspire others to write.  It will also connect me with other aspiring and creative writers.  When working towards a goal, it is wise to have people in your corner who are like-minded and want the same thing.  I want my writings to be more than pieces of paper or journals hidden away in a chest or cardboard box.  I want to share them with the world.  In my lifetime, I want to publish several books and writings.  In order to be the very best that I can be, I must invest in proper training and education.  So far, being in my MFA program has truly be an enriching and educational experience for me.  There are certain things about writing that I have yet to learn, but am eager to learn.  I am confident that the MFA program will provide me with the necessary skills and opportunities to really strengthen and improve my writing.

As an author, I want to inspire people to discover their true identity, liberate themselves, and overcome challenges.  Writing is food and oxygen to my being.  One of the things that truly nourishes my soul and satiates my desire to uncover my innermost self.  Writing is the key to the lock that secures the gates around me. Writing is life because without it, my life seems like a neverending void. Through writing, I truly become myself. I become the light that breaks through my self-inflicted darkness.  I become a creator.  By writing, I feel liberated and loved.


Victoria Mays is pursuing a MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Central Arkansas.  She is a freelance editor and writer.  When she’s not crafting stories, she is inspiring people through her blog, Soul-Liberation.