It seems not too long ago that online literary journals were poor cousins to their established counterparts in print. In the age of dial-up connections and primitive web design, when almost everyone had a website on GeoCities or Angelfire, many writers considered online publishing to be crude and second rate. And who could blame them?
But times have changed, and online literary journals have come a long way. While Canada still boasts many fine and venerable print journals like Grain, Prism International, and The Fiddlehead, magazines I urge everyone to read, online literary journals are no longer the red-headed stepchildren of our literary family tree.
Leading the pack are four online journals that combine editorial savvy with design smarts to create a package that is readable in all the ways that matter.
According to its homepage, "ditch, is a Canadian online poetry magazine celebrating the innovative, the non-conforming, the radical, the alternative, the surreal, the avant-garde, the non-linear, the abstract, the experimental."
In the current issue, look for work by Canadians Camille Martin, Meredith Quartermain, and Sandy Pool along with contributions by writers from around the world
Forget publishes poetry, fiction and commentary. The current issue, which (full disclosure) features two poems by me, celebrates its ninth anniversary.
Also in the current issue, look for work by Alayna Munce and recent Governor General's Award nominee Sachiko Murakami.
Originally started by Toronto writer Emily Schultz to promote her novel of the same name, Joyland has blossomed into a truly remarkable literary playground. From Schultz's novel, the site moved its focus to short fiction from Toronto, and then expanded operations to include franchises across North America.
In the current issue(s), look for work by Andrew Kaufman, Michael Lapointe, and Ruth Galm.
The Puritan describes itself as "an online, quarterly publication based in Toronto, Ontario committed to publishing the best in new fiction, poetry, interviews, and reviews." Specifically, its mission is to publish what it calls "pioneering" literature, though it seems to have a broad definition of what that term means. This is a good thing, since variety is the spice of lit.
In the current issue, look for work by Jim Smith, Emily Schultz, and Marcus McCann.
Paul Vermeersch is the author of The Reinvention of the Human Hand (McClelland & Stewart, 2010) and three other collections of poetry. He is also the editor of The I.V. Lounge Reader and The Al Purdy A-frame Anthology.