After a long hiatus, I am back with a new feature for Newsvine: interviewing people in the world of publishing and writing. In my first installment, I have an incredible guest—
Claire McQuerry is the contest editor for The Missouri Review, a literary journal based in Columbia, MO. She is a poet and nonfiction writer and she teaches literature and writing at the University of Missouri.
WWL: Can you tell us a little bit about the Missouri Review for those readers that are not familiar with it?
CM: The Missouri Review has been around since 1978. Larry Levis, one of my favorite poets, was one of the original editors. We're based at the University of Missouri, and we publish four issues per year, each of which contain beautiful artwork and new fiction, poetry and essays. The journal also runs interviews with famous authors, and a really unique found-text feature where we print never before published works.
WWL: The Missouri Review is also well known for its writing contests. Can anyone enter those? If so, how would they go about do so & what kind of work are you looking for?
CM: Yes! The contests are open to everyone, and we're open to a range of styles. We're best known for the Jeffrey E. Smith Editor's Prize, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The deadline for this contest is coming up on October 1st, and we're looking for unpublished poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The first-place awards in each category include $5,000, a featured publication in the journal, and a paid trip out to Missouri for a reading and reception. It's exciting to me that oftentimes the winners are relatively unknown writers--people just beginning their careers. Finding and publishing their work feels like a discovery, and I know the award has helped several people launch their careers. Writers can enter their work online through our website: http://www.missourireview.com/contest/editors_prize.php
WWL: How is the Missouri Review different from other literary journals?
CM: One of the journal's most unique features is the found-text section. I think one of the most interesting found texts we printed was The Book of Jubilees, which appeared in a1992 issue. The Book is a translated fragment from one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and we were able to publish it at a time when most of the Dead Sea texts hadn't yet been released to the public.
Just recently we've added an online subscription option, so that subscribers are able to download the journal to their computers. The great thing about the electronic version of The Missouri Review is that it also comes with an audio file that has the journal's entire content read aloud. We're one of the first literary magazines in the world to publish in print, digital, and audio format.
WWL: Can you speak a little about your job at the review and your work as a writer?
CM: Sure. At the review I'm responsible for publicizing our contests, and, during peak submission times, for reading the work that comes in from around the world. Reading submissions is my favorite part of the job. I wish we had more room to print all the strong work we get. As a writer myself, I find that reading submissions provides creative fuel. All writing is a conversation--whether it's a response to a piece of music, a work of art, or another piece of writing. Other writers' work often inspires me to go out and write new poems.
WWL: What can we expect from the Missouri Review in the near future?
CM: Right now we're working on a project to archive all of our past issues online. It's strange to think that work that gets published in literary journals may never appear in book form, that a year or two after its publication that work more or less disappears. The archives will keep a lot of that older work alive.
Thank you for taking the time to address the Newsvine community, Ms. McQuerry. Best of luck to you and the journal in the future. If there are any questions, please put them in the comments below and I will try to get follow up answers.