CUNY Literary Journals

Although there is a conviction in many MFA writing programs that students should publish in journals far afield from their schools, most writers crave all the space they can get. Fortunately, CUNY has a variety of paper and online journals ranging from the revered Fiction out of City College to the more topic-focused J, from the John Jay School of Criminal Justice.

There is also Ozone Park Journal, an online publication from Queens College, whose fiction is edited by MFA student Ann Podracky. Demonstrating that she is an editor who can also write, Podracky at the March Turnstyle Reading treated her audience to a hilarious and touching piece of short prose about a woman and her elderly mother's longtime obsession with counting calories and watching -- but not necessarily exercising with -- vintage fitness guru Jack LaLanne.

The journals seem to have as many personalities and styles as the MFA programs professors and teachers. Some, like Ozone Park Journal, are student driven. In others, like Fiction, students compete for space with some of the country's most prominent authors. And so it is heartening to find something like this: Raymond Strom who, according to his biography worked in a restaurant and lived in Queens while an MFA student at City College, had his first published piece in the 2007 edition of Fiction, which also contains a story by Joyce Carol Oates.Strom delivers a searing yet unsentimental story of two brothers abandoned by their mother.

If a cliche might be forgiven in this article about writing, necessity is also the mother of invention. And so two graduates of the MFA fiction writing program at Brooklyn recently set out to create their own journal, Electric Literature, a publication for the technological age and evidence that novelist Colum McCann of Hunter is correct when he says he learns about the latest innovations of our age from students. These students, Andy Hunter and Scott Lindenbaum, were recently profiled in The New York Times, which described one of their latest coups: Author Rick Moody "tweeted" a story to them over three days.