Traveling Through the Big Muddy

One of my goals (aka resolutions) for this year is to find and read journals that are new to me.  Since I am a bit secluded here, I often rely on blogs and websites for insight about literary journals, both print on online.  This is how I found the Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley

As the title suggests, Big Muddy caters to the work of those who live by the  Mississippi River.  Of course, we all know how vast of a region that really is, and how different literature from this region will be.  From what I have read so far, I believe that Big Muddy really showcases these differences.  This particular issue published the winner of the Mighty River Short Story Award which was a fictional piece titled “Missus Finn” by Kel Munger and the Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Award which was a short work titled “Facets” by Erica Lehrer.  I especially found “Facets,” a story that tells the tale of a narrator who contemplates putting her brother’s ashes in a diamond, a fascinating (if not somewhat disturbing) read.

Besides the many prose pieces, Big Muddy had its share of poetry as well.  I really liked “Cairo Fishmongers” by Mark Vogel and “The Hill Woman’s Rant” by Kathryn Kerr.  From this particular issue, I gather that Big Muddy seems to favor narrative poetry, which is my favorite kind.  In general, all of the work was dedicated to such a strong sense of place that I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the many lives narrated in the included published pieces.

Will I ever send poems to Big Muddy?  I’m not sure yet.  The journal does show preference to the areas that make up the Mississippi River area.  Still, the guidelines in the front of my copy read, “While preferences is given to regional topics, all submissions are encouraged and appreciated.”   Besides, I live two blocks from the Conewango Creek, which flows into the Allegheny River, which travels to Pittsburgh and meets up with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River which flows to the Mississippi.  (See I am part of the Mississippi River Region! 🙂 )  More importantly, I found a sort of kinship with many of the people depicted in the poems, especially those poems that described rural life.

I don’t always enjoy the literary journals that arrive at my doorstep, even the “big name” ones.  But I am looking forward to my next issue of Big Muddy.

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3 Comments »

  1. Well, shoot, Karen, I pride myself on being part of the Mississippi River Region and this is the first I’m hearing about this journal. Thanks!

    I think you should include your list of creeks and rivers in your cover letter. It is awesome!

  2. Karen Said:

    I think this journal would be great for your work! I really enjoyed this journal — I just couldn’t find an exact submission period listed in the guidelines. I will have to explore a bit more.

  3. Hey, by coincidence, I have heard Kathryn Kerr read that poem and just bought her chapbook, Turtles All the Way Down, today! (She brought copies into Babbitt’s for the Local Authors shelf, and I snapped up–heh heh–one of them!) By further coincidence I have a chapbook of poems by Susan Swartout (the editor of Big Muddy) published by Dillon Press, also here in my town! (Jerry Dillon Pratt was a wonderful poet and a fine woman I had a chance to know for a brief time.) So it appears our paths nearly crossed at some point in Illinois!! So glad to hear your report of Big Muddy!!


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