Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor


If the job of little magazines is to shape literary taste, the Great Plains states have helped shape such taste for the better part of a century. Some of the oldest and most venerable of the country's literary magazines are published in the Great Plains: Prairie Schooner has been published continuously at the University of Nebraska since 1926, and North Dakota Quarterly, which started in 1910 at Grand Forks as Quarterly Review, ceased publication from 1933 to 1955 and then began publication again under its new name. More recent nationally recognized university-based journals include South Dakota Review (Vermillion, 1963), Nebraska Review (Omaha, 1972), Cimarron Review (Stillwater, Oklahoma, 1967), Denver Quarterly (1966), Colorado Review (Fort Collins, 1956), Writers' Forum (Colorado Springs, 1974), The Texas Review (Huntsville, 1980) and Puerto del Sol (Las Cruces, New Mexico, 1960).

Historically, critics have charged that university- sponsored magazines do not find truly new literary work because their institutions are interested primarily in establishing orthodox reputations, while the little magazine ought to be interested in the unorthodox. In any case, the Great Plains also hosts a number of literary journals independent of academia. The Bloomsbury Review has been a highly successful Denver independent since 1980. The magazine's large subscriber base (65,000) and loyal advertisers keep it solvent. Robert Greer, founder and editor of Denver's High Plains Literary Review since 1986, is a medical doctor who teaches in the University of Colorado's medical school and writes medical thrillers. He started the magazine to showcase work he felt was not being published in other journals. Volunteers, including editor Polly Swafford, are the reason Potpourri (Prairie Village, Kansas, 1989) claims it has been able to continue to publish. However, independent publishers also have problems with censorship, as Michael Hathaway, editor of the Chiron Review (St. John, Kansas, 1982), discovered when he had to search for a new printer after the newspaper that printed the quarterly took offense at accepted material.

The Canadian independents, most notably Prairie Fire (Winnipeg, 1978) and Grain (Regina, 1973), are primarily funded by three sources: provincial writers guilds, the Canada Council for the Arts, and local arts councils, while Prairie Journal (Calgary, 1983) is supported by a trust.

Both university-sponsored and independent literary magazines located in the Great Plains have played a significant role in the formation of contemporary literary taste. The tradition promises to remain strong in the twenty-first century.

Ladette Randolph University of Nebraska Press

Anderson, Elliott, and Mary Kinzie, eds. The Little Magazine in America: A Modern Documentary History. Yonkers NY: Pushcart Press, 1978.

Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. Directory of Literary Magazines 1997–98. Wakefield RI: Asphodel Press, 1997.

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