Best Online Literary Magazines

Title: Best Online Literary Magazines

Author: Every Writer

Full Text & Author:

The Internet, Online, 11/1/2016

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 Narrative Magazine

  Edited by Carol Edgarian and Tom Jenks two well-established editors, the publication is making a real run at being a “big time” literary magazine on the web. Not many publications in print or online have been able to be successful AND keep creative content as their bread and butter. Narrative is attempting to do just that. They are working week after week to bring great writing to the web and to promote writers. It is like the Atlantic Monthly depending on fiction and poetry first and articles second. Narrative acquired long time print magazine Story Quarterly and is now carrying out a literary tradition by bringing that writing to the mainstream. They are doing something amazing and worthwhile for writers and every writer on the web should support them.

Here you have former editors and writers who have worked for or published in publications like Esquire, GQ, and Vogue who are trying to bring great writing on the web like never before. The site states, “Narrative was founded in 2003 with the idea of exploring what could be done with quality literary publishing on the Internet. At that time nothing existed online that could stand alongside well-established literary periodicals, but it was clear that unless writers moved onto the Internet they would soon be marginalized.”

They do it right, and they are working very hard to promote writing as a mainstay of the web. Read them, subscribe and visit often. They are number 1 on our list for both their content and their vision. They could, if they were in print, be at the top of our print magazine list as well.


To be honest we have been reluctant to put Slate on this list. They are not really a literary magazine. They are a general interest magazine, and like The Atlantic or the New Yorker we are not crazy for publications that use poetry and fiction to boost their intellectual content, but spend little time featuring the works. What we mean is we do not like to have to dig for creative content. We believe these magazines The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Playboy, honor creative writing by publishing it, but it is such a small part of what they do it is hard to count them among “literary magazines.”

Slate does publish much more content than creative writing, but they are a daily magazine. At this point monthly they may publish more fiction and poetry than many of the online literary magazines on this list. They have an Alexa ranking of 1,195 and if you want to mail a poem anyone can do so, and it is mailed directly to Robert Pinsky former Poet Laureate. We have to give it to this magazine. They are one of the best and they have been around since 1997. They are making writing and literature better on the web. If they were more focused on writing they would be hands down the best literary publication the web. Right now it is a little difficult to find the poems and fiction they publish. Work has been published from the journal in Best American Poetry.

Exquisite Corpse

The site started in 1983 as print journal founded and edited by poet legend Andrei Codrescu. The Corpse moved from print to online in 1999. At the time print magazines were still turning their noses way up at online publishing. Those of you who followed online publishing might remember this is the time was just starting to gain a wide readership and gave the entire magazine and newspaper industry pause. For hardcore literary writers finding the Exquisite Corpse listed among those journals published solely online. It was a great academic journal. This wasn’t the Mississippi Review sticking its toe in the waters of online publishing. This was a full out plunge into the future.

Why is this a big deal? Literary fiction writers and poets do tend to be trailblazers. They many times will take writing in all different directions. They will risk form and content even style at times, but they will not throw away good writing for nothing. Well established poets want at least recognition, and fiction writers, if you can believe it, want money! Not many start-up publications on the web could afford to pay, and it took a magazine like the Corpse and Codrescu the help change the mind set of writers and universities. The publication always publishes great works, and simply it has done a lot for online literary publications.

La Petite Zine

We have said before that we do not like to see magazines judge writers by their bios, but looking at La Petite Zine for more than 2 minutes will tell you that the best of the best are submitting work to this online journal. Writers here publish with Tin House, Swink, American Letters and Commentary, and on and on. If you throw a stone on this site you hit a writer who has been published in an outstanding literary magazine. If this was all they do, it might honestly disqualify them from this list, but it isn’t. You can find many writers on the site who are publishing for the first time. The quality of work of both well-known and unknown writers is outstanding. Not enough can be said about the impact of a magazine like this on the status of online publications. This is why it has made it into the top 5.

The journal doesn’t boast its status, so it is easily overlooked. Their “about us” page consists of a picture of a sign that says “throw nothing into the sea,” and nothing more. The editors are a little flippant in revealing info about the journal, but they don’t have to. The work speaks for itself. Est. 1999 appeared in BAP in 2004.


It is a unique look at publishing on the web. They are more or less an electronic chapbook publisher, but think of them as the most widely circulated chapbooks in the history of chapbooks. The site, starting in 1995, is a pioneer of literature and good writing on the web. It is always a great read, and it preserves and promotes the spirit of literary writing at its best. Chapbooks have always been a handshake between a poet and some readers, this site represents a poet standing at the door of a football stadium greeting each person as they enter. It is hard to say how many times the first chapbook of Mudlark has been read, it dwarfs all other chapbook publications we are sure.

Mudlark is one of the reason online literary publishing has been able to gain the respect it has.


Est. 1999 and is hands down one of best publications online. They were included in Best American Poetry in 2002. They always have a literary magazine outlook on things. It could be said they look at literature and writing in the right way, for example from their site, “We are invested in you as poets and as people, but we do not care about your credentials, and neither do your poems. Please do not include a bio. Your poems should be the events through which we come to know you.” They have published known writers, but it takes a lot to have an eye for work that is able to define a publication as outstanding over and over without worrying about the bios. Many zines and magazines claim to do this, but it is honestly a rarity.

They are always publishing great work and making great in roads for women writers on the web. They are one of the online literary magazines on the web that are setting standards for literary magazines of the future. It was not so long ago that print magazines were turning up their noses at publications on the web, and other zines on this list have helped to change that view.  As of  1/08/09 their Alexa ranking was 571,792. This dwarfs other outstanding print magazines on the web like Tin House, Iowa Review, and the Mississippi Review. It may not seem like a big deal, but it translates into far more readers.

From their site: “ is an online journal that publishes original works of fiction, poetry and art.” Work from site has appeared in Best American Poetry, and they have been recognized by the Pushcart awards.

Evergreen Review

Est. 1959 as a print publication that ended in the 1973. It was reincarnated as an online literary magazine in 1999. Generally it’s a wonderful read. The Wikipedia article on the Evergreen Review states,

“Evergreen Review debuted pivotal works by Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs, Marguerite Duras, Jean Genet, Allen Ginsberg, Gunter Grass, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, Pablo Neruda, Vladimir Nabokov, Frank O’Hara, Kenzaburo Oe, Octavio Paz, Harold Pinter, Susan Sontag, Tom Stoppard, Derek Walcott and Malcolm X. United States Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote a controversial piece for the magazine in 1969. Kerouac and Ginsberg regularly had their writing published in the magazine.”

The magazine was pivotal and outstanding, and now the online magazine is carrying on the tradition.

A Public Space

Founded by one of the Editors fo The Paris Review, A Public Space has been winning awards from the beginning. They have a large online publication, and we feel they are one of the best, if not the best new publication on the web.

Big Bridge

Est. 1997 and is always publishing great writers. They are what a literary magazine should be. The magazine publishes great works from new authors. They are opinionated, radical, love the arts and writing and promote our better angels.   “Big Bridge, a webzine of poetry and everything else, welcomes submissions. If we like it, we’ll publish it. We’re interested in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, essays, journalism, and art of all kinds (photographs, line drawings, performance, installations, siteworks, comix, graphics, you get the picture).”

Carve Magazine

Carve Magazine magazine is new to the list. Est. in 2000 they have been consistently publishing work that just keeps getting better. They have also become very well-known in writer’s circles for their “Raymond Carver Short Story Contest.” Since the inception of this contest the magazine has been getting ever more attention. The site reads, “Carve seeks to publish outstanding literary fiction and to strengthen its ties in the literary community. Though online-literary magazines are not the “norm,” we at Carve believe that with time and consistent publishing of quality work, we can attain the same level of reputation enjoyed by print magazines.” We believe they already do rival print magazines considering they have better web traffic than the Mississippi Review according to Alexa.

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About Author Annette J Dunlea Irish Writer

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