Saturday, April 29, 2006

Perpetual Pushcart Prize Poll

My Pushcart Prize ranking is now complete and is set out at the bottom of this post. There were several surprises for me in preparing this list, the biggest of which was by the margin by which Ploughshares beats the field. There are several magazines in the Top Twenty that I don’t know particularly well, but you can bet that I’m going to do some investigation.

Methodology. Let’s be clear about what this is. First, it is an analysis of Pushcart Prizes in Fiction. I chose to look at fiction because I write fiction, but a similar analysis could be done for poetry and creative non-fiction. And I looked only at Pushcart because it seems to me to the most democratic of the annual prizes for short fiction. I looked only at Pushcart because trying to include Best American Short Stories or O. Henry Awards seems to me, to be comparing apples and oranges, or at least Granny Smiths and McIntoshes. Second, it is purely quantitative, derived solely from the number of Pushcart Prizes and Special Mentions awarded to each magazine or small press. Some rankings of magazines try to add other factors such as circulation or payment, but that wasn’t of interest to me. I wanted to know who won the prizes. Period. Third, the Pushcart Prize has been around since 1976, but magazines come and go and tastes change, and so I didn’t think it was relevant to go too far back in time to develop this list, not to mention the fact that it would have been a lot more work. So I decided to stick with the 21st Century: I looked only at the Pushcart Prizes and Special Mentions awarded in 2001-2006, that’s volumes XXV-XXX. During that time, 135 Prizes and 559 Special Mentions have been awarded in fiction. Fourth, I used a formula to calculate the points. It’s pretty simple: a Prize was worth 5 points, a Special Mention worth 1. So, for example, Ploughshares came up with a total of 90 points by virtue of garnering 13 Prizes and 25 Special Mentions over the six-year period. [(13x5)+(25x1)=90]

What does it all mean? I’m not sure. I began the project because I wanted to inform my submission strategy. That is, I wanted to target better and better magazines as I continue to publish, and I thought this list would help. It will help in that way, I think, but like other rankings it can’t be the only criterion I use. Among other problems, there are some very fine magazines that are pretty far down the list--One Story and Indiana Review are in the group tied for 77th with 2 points each, but I’d be very happy to be published in either one. Some other magazines I submit to regularly aren’t on the list at all. I guess they’d like to be. And very few online magazines are represented.

So, for what it’s worth, here’s the list:

1 Ploughshares 90

2 Paris Review 55

3 Zoetrope: All Story 53

4 Conjunctions 47

5 Southern Review 46

6 Tin House 40

7 Threepenny Review 36

8 Epoch 34
9 TriQuarterly 34

10 Georgia Review 33

11 New England Review 31
12 Witness 31

13 Ontario Review 30

14 Five Points 26

15 Missouri Review 23

16 Gettysburg Review 22
17 Kenyon Review 22
18 McSweeney's 22

19 Chelsea 20
20 StoryQuarterly 20

21 Doubletake 19

22 Shenandoah 18

23 Agni 15
24 Boulevard 15

25 Idaho Review 14
26 Third Coast 14

27 Antioch Review 12
28 Oxford American 12

29 Manoa 11
30 News from the Republic of Letters 11
31 Salmagundi 11

32 Iowa Review 10

33 Glimmer Train 9
34 Harvard Review 9
35 Hudson Review 9
36 New Letters 9
37 Prairie Schooner 9
38 Virginia Quarterly Review 9

39 Willow Spring 8
40 Yale Review 8

41 Alaska Quarterly Review 7
42 Fence 7
43 Graywolf Press 7
44 North American Review 7
45 Pleiades 7

46 Bomb 6
47 Boston Review 6
48 Calyx 6
49 Colorado Review 6
50 Speakeasy 6
51 Story 6
52 ZYZZYVA 6

53 Bridge 5
54 Coffee House Press 5
55 Dalkey Archive Press 5
56 Grand Street 5
57 Milkweed 5
58 Noon 5
59 Other Voices 5
60 Parkett 5
61 Southwest Review 5

62 Bellevue Literary Review 4
63 Black Warrior Review 4
64 Caribbean Writer 4
65 Crazyhorse 4
66 Daedalus 4
67 Fiction International 4
68 Gulf Coast 4
69 Michigan Quarterly Review 4
70 Mississippi Review 4
71 Nebraska Review 4

72 Another Chicago Magazine 3
73 Image 3
74 Literal Latte 3
75 Mid American Review 3
76 University Press of New England 3

77 American Fiction 2
78 American Literary Review 2
79 American Voice 2
80 Bamboo Ridge 2
81 Beloit Fiction 2
82 failbetter.com 2
83 Green Mountains Review 2
84 Indiana Review 2
85 Lit 2
86 Massachusetts Review 2
87 Meridian 2
88 Natural Bridge 2
89 One Story 2
90 Open City 2
91 Water-Stone 2
92 West Branch 2

93 Antietam Review 1
94 APA Journal 1
95 Art and Understanding 1
96 Ascent 1
97 At Length 1
98 Bellingham Review 1
99 BkMk Press 1
100 Briar Cliff Review 1
101 Canio's Editions 1
102 Carnegie Mellon Univ. Press 1
103 Cincinnati Review 1
104 Clackamas Literary Review 1
105 Confrontation 1
106 Contemporary West 1
107 Denver Quarterly 1
108 Descant 1
109 Eggemoggin Reach Review 1
110 EWUP 1
111 Flyway 1
112 Fourteen Hills 1
113 Frank 1
114 Fugue 1
115 Hampton Shorts 1
116 Happy 1
117 Heart 1
118 Helicon Nine Editions 1
119 High Plains Literary Review 1
120 Hotel Amerika 1
121 Hunger Mountain 1
122 Inkwell 1
123 Iron Horse Literary Review 1
124 Joe 1
125 Kyoto Journal 1
126 Larcom Review 1
127 Lilth 1
128 Louisville Review 1
129 Lynx Eye 1
130 Margin 1
131 McSweeney's Books 1
132 Mid-List 1
133 Minnesota Review 1
134 Nerve.com 1
135 New Renaissance 1
136 Night Train 1
137 Ninth Letter 1
138 North Atlantic Review 1
139 Northern Lights 1
140 Northwest Review 1
141 Oasis 1
142 Paper Street 1
143 Partisan Review 1
144 Passages North 1
145 Phoebe 1
146 Pindeldyboz 1
147 Press 1
148 Puerto del Sol 1
149 Quick Fiction 1
150 Raritan 1
151 RBS Gazette 1
152 River City 1
153 River Styx 1
154 Sarabande 1
155 Small Town 1
156 SMU Press 1
157 Soft Skull Press 1
158 Sou'wester 1
159 Sun 1
160 Tampa Review 1
161 Tiferet 1
162 Timber Creek Review 1
163 Two Girls Review 1
164 University of Pittsburgh Press 1
165 War, Literature and The Arts 1
166 West Wind 1
167 Worcester 1
168 Words of Wisdom 1
169 WordWrights 1
170 Xconnect 1

12 comments:

jai said...

very useful thanks Cliff. will digest...

katrina said...

Excellent, Cliff! Thanks for this!

Kay Sexton said...

Interesting, as you say, some fine journals way down the list and some I've hardly heard of at the top. I should have something more intelligent to say, I suspect, but I was seduced out of thinking sensibly by the very handsome portrait of your dog! He's gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting list. Some surprises on there, for instance, Conjunctions so high, Glimmer Train so low.

Good work, Cliff!

Jim said...

Some mild surprises there, Cliff, but no huge ones. They do sort of fall into tiers, don't they? I'm copying for future use--

Clifford Garstang said...

Yes, Conjunctions was a surprise for me. I've also not looked at Epoch or Witness, but I need to.

And, Kay, Thanks on Bhikku's behalf.

Carol Peters said...

Last summer I learned from an insider that Ploughshares doesn't read their slush pile except on cold days in hell. They solicit work or they read work sent to them by agents or by big name authors. An author I spoke to this fall told me that he never submits stories -- he lets his agent do it.

So, I would not conclude from this study that we should submit to Ploughshares.

That said, this is a fascinating study, Cliff, and I am extremely grateful for all your hard work and am studying the results intently.

Clifford Garstang said...

Carol, I'm sure you are right, and I'm sure there are others near the top that are simlar, who also keep their slush piles as a ruse to lure writers to subscribe. This is one reason why I reached the conclusion that the list might be a better guide to what to read, rather than where to submit. Isn't Don Lee slated to come to the Queens alumni weekend in November? That should be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Don Lee participated in one of my lit. journal editor e-panels last year - two questions asked of every editor:

A) Do you solicit stories?

B) Do you make sure to search the slush pile.

His replies:

A)

"We have a prominent writer serving as the guest editor for each issue, and he or she is allowed to solicit half the issue. The other half must be selected from unsolicited work that has been screened by the Ploughshares office. Yes, the stickiest part of guest-editing is dealing with a friend from whom something was solicited, but which doesn't cut it."

B)

"We look at everything in the slush pile, and we take great pride in being able to say we were someone's first publication. But we don't handicap quality. The stats for anyone are tough: we get over 8,000 submissions during our eight-month reading period. We have slots for 30 stories and 150 poems in 3 issues a year."

Beyond that - great study Cliff, very interesting information in there.

Dan Wickett

Linera Lucas said...

thank you so much for doing this, what a great resource.

bevjackson said...

what a hunk of research. Thank you. MOST interesting (if not a little depressing. :-) )

Nick said...

Thanks for this, Clifford!