When one hears “literary scene,” one imagines poet laureates and Jonathan Franzen-types hustling around bookstores, reading their work with the hippest readers (a.k.a. literati if one wants to get punny). The California outsider would easily name San Francisco and Los Angeles as having a stronger literary scene than San Diego; however, one needs to simply know where to sniff the literati out of hiding. In fact, San Diego has some of the best literary journals around. Here is a guide on where to find your new favorite writer from some of the best San Diego publications:
1) 1913 is both a press and a journal committed to publishing the baddest in poetry, prose, hybrid, and book-as-art-object. Readers will not only be entranced by their gorgeous cover art that could easily be displayed on the walls of both a chic coffee shop or a dim dive bar, but the surprise and risk that some of the pieces take on as they sprawl from page to page.
2) Poetry International takes readers on a sprawling adventure through the landscape of contemporary poetry and translations. Each issue features a portfolio on a specific region, with recent issues touring poetry from Burma, the Caribbean, and Sweden, alongside chapbooks from Jericho Brown, San Diego's own Steve Kowit, and Valzhyna Mort. It also boasts one of the best literary blogs out there.
3) For those looking outside of poetry, Fiction International prides itself on its formal innovation and social activism. FI has published some of the wildest writers, like Kathy Acker and Allen Ginsburg, alongside some well-respected writers like J.M. Coetzee, Fanny Howe, and Joyce Carol Oates.
4) And for those who are looking for something away from the page, welcome Spit Journal to the San Diego scene. Spit Journal celebrates the culture of performance poetry (commonly known as spoken word) across the globe. Not only does the online journal offer book reviews and an interview with poetry-giant Douglas Kearney, they also have a section in conjunction with Sociopoetix, whose mission is to bring performance poetry to the classroom.
These journals are just a small sampling of some of San Diego's finest editorial minds, and this list definitely shows how some of these local editors make strides to showcase an array of voices from around the globe.