Saturday, December 06, 2008

2009 Pushcart Prize Rankings


It is time once again to give my annual ranking of literary magazines. As I have noted in years past, the following list looks only at the Pushcart Prizes awarded and Special Mentions in Fiction since 2000. Awards before that date are less relevant, it seems to me, in determining the relative quality of magazines publishing today. In fact, from next year I may start dropping older years out of the formula, in order to keep the list truly current. Note, also, that I am not considering Non-fiction or Poetry in this analysis. A similar list for those genres would be interesting, but I leave that to someone else. Or I'll tackle it at a later date. But not right now.

I'm also not looking at other fine volumes such as the O. Henry Prizes or the Best American Short Stories. Appearing in either of those collections is a high honor, but the selection process isn't comparable to the Pushcarts, and so I don't believe mixing is appropriate, and, besides, many stories appear in two or more of the annual anthologies and that would skew the index. So: just Pushcarts and Special Mentions in Fiction since 2000.

A word about methodology: it isn't complicated. My formula counts a certain number of points for a prize and a smaller number of points for a special mention. Someone could figure it out if he or she wanted to. It's pretty simple. As I have in the past couple of years, I've listed the total number of points using this formula so readers can see, for example, how far ahead of the pack Ploughshares is.

A couple of things to note about this year's list. Not much changed from last year, for one thing. Paris Review dropped a spot, Ontario (which ceased publication this year and so is marked on the list with ©) dropped a few. New England climbed a couple of spots, reaching the top-ten, which pushed Epoch and TriQuarterly out. There was more movement toward the bottom of the list, where we have ten or so magazines appearing for the first time, thanks to their Special Mentions.

Finally, to borrow a note of caution from last year's post on this subject:
One final word: What good is this list anyway? I'm a fan of the Pushcart Prize Anthology and I happen to think that it is a good indicator of magazine quality. It isn't perfect, and it doesn't mean a whole lot, frankly, but when I'm making my decisions of where I want to submit, I look at this list and aim as high as is realistically possible.

2009 Magazine 2009 Score

1 Ploughshares 118
2 Zoetrope: All Story 75
3 Conjunctions 71
4 Paris Review 67
4 Southern Review 67
6 Threepenny Review 58
7 Tin House 56
8 Georgia Review 52
9 Ontario Review © 49
10 New England Review 46
11 TriQuarterly 45
12 Epoch 44
13 Witness 39
13 Missouri Review 39
15 McSweeney's 35
16 Kenyon Review 33
16 Shenandoah 33
18 Five Points 32
19 Antioch Review 28
20 Boulevard 26
21 StoryQuarterly © 25
22 Gettysburg Review 24
22 Agni 24
22 Virginia Quarterly Review 24
25 Mississippi Review 22
26 Chelsea © 21
27 A Public Space 20
28 Doubletake 19
28 Idaho Review 19
28 Oxford American 19
28 Noon 19
32 Third Coast 16
32 New Letters 16
32 One Story 16
35 Iowa Review 15
36 Glimmer Train 14
38 Willow Spring 13
39 Harvard Review 12
39 Hudson Review 12
41 Manoa 11
41 News from the Republic of Letters 11
41 Salmagundi 11
41 Prairie Schooner 11
41 Crazyhorse 11
46 Alaska Quarterly Review 10
46 Pleiades 10
46 Colorado Review 10
46 Yale Review 10
46 American Scholar 10
51 North American Review 9
52 Michigan Quarterly Review 8
52 Bellevue Literary Review 8
54 Boston Review 7
54 Fence 7
54 Graywolf 7
54 Speakeasy 7
54 Bomb 7
54 Image 7
54 Southwest Review 7
61 Calyx 6
61 New Orleans Review 6
61 Sonora Review 6
61 Story 6
61 Sun 6
61 Caribbean Writer 6
61 Fiction International 6
61 Other Voices 6
69 Another Chicago Magazine 5
69 Black Warrior Review 5
69 Bridge 5
69 Coffee House Press 5
69 Dalkey Archive Press 5
69 Grand Street 5
69 Milkweed 5
69 Parkett 5
69 Univ. of Georgia Press 5
69 Cincinnati Review 5
69 Massachusetts Review 5
80 Daedalus 4
80 Gulf Coast 4
80 Mid American Review 4
80 Nebraska Review 4
80 Northwest Review 4
80 Water-Stone 4
80 Raritan 4
87 Bamboo Ridge 3
87 3
87 Indiana Review 3
87 Literal Latte 3
87 Post Road 3
87 University Press of New England 3
87 Event 3
87 Sewanee Review 3
95 American Fiction 2
95 American Letters & Commentary 2
95 American Literary Review 2
95 American Voice 2
95 Beloit Fiction 2
95 Briar Cliff Review 2
95 Columbia Review 2
95 Green Mountains Review 2
95 Lit 2
95 Meridian 2
95 Natural Bridge 2
95 Ninth Letter 2
95 Open City 2
95 Paper Street 2
95 Pinch 2
95 Turnrow 2
95 West Branch 2
95 Western Humanities Review 2
95 [sic] 2
95 Crab Orchard Review 2
95 Faultline 2
95 Passages North 2
95 Redivider 2
95 Narrative 2
95 Appalachian Heritage 2
120 Amazon Shorts 1
120 Antietam Review 1
120 APA Journal 1
120 Art and Understanding 1
120 Artful Dodge 1
120 Ascent 1
120 At Length 1
120 Ballyhoo Stories 1
120 Baltimore Review 1
120 Bellingham Review 1
120 BkMk Press 1
120 Blackbird 1
120 Brain, Child 1
120 Canio's Editions 1
120 Carnegie Mellon Univ. Press 1
120 Carve 1
120 Chautauqua 1
120 Clackamas Literary Review 1
120 Confrontation 1
120 Contemporary West 1
120 Cutbank 1
120 Denver Quarterly 1
120 Descant 1
120 Dos Passos Review 1
120 Eggemoggin Reach Review 1
120 EWUP 1
120 Flyway 1
120 Fourteen Hills 1
120 Frank 1
120 Fugue 1
120 Hampton Shorts 1
120 Happy 1
120 Healing Muse 1
120 Heart 1
120 Helicon Nine Editions 1
120 High Plains Literary Review 1
120 Hotel Amerika 1
120 Hunger Mountain 1
120 Inkwell 1
120 Iron Horse Literary Review 1
120 Joe 1
120 Kyoto Journal 1
120 Lake Effect 1
120 Larcom Review 1
120 Laurel Review 1
120 Lilth 1
120 Louisville Review 1
120 Lynx Eye 1
120 Margin 1
120 McSweeney's Books 1
120 Mid-List 1
120 Minnesota Review 1
120 1
120 New Renaissance 1
120 Night Train 1
120 North Atlantic Review 1
120 Northern Lights 1
120 Oasis 1
120 Partisan Review 1
120 Pearl 1
120 Per Contra 1
120 Phoebe 1
120 Pindeldyboz 1
120 Press 1
120 Prism 1
120 Puckerbush Press 1
120 Puerto del Sol 1
120 Quarter After Eight 1
120 Quarterly West 1
120 Quick Fiction 1
120 RBS Gazette 1
120 River Styx 1
120 Salamander 1
120 Sarabande 1
120 Seems 1
120 Small Town 1
120 SMU Press 1
120 Soft Skull Press 1
120 South Carolina Review 1
120 Sou'wester 1
120 Spork 1
120 Stolen Time Press 1
120 Subtropics 1
120 Sycamore Review 1
120 Tampa Review 1
120 Tiferet 1
120 Timber Creek Review 1
120 Transformation 1
120 Two Girls Review 1
120 Underground Voices 1
120 University of Pittsburgh Press 1
120 War, Literature and The Arts 1
120 West Wind 1
120 Worcester 1
120 Words of Wisdom 1
120 WordWrights 1
120 Xconnect 1
120 Hopkins Review 1
120 Ecotone 1
120 Nimrod 1
120 Chattahoochee Review 1
120 Cimarron Review 1
120 Relief 1
120 Stone Canoe 1
120 Southampton Review 1
120 Rivendell 1
120 Folio 1
120 American Short Fiction 1
120 Arts & Letters 1
120 Callaloo 1
120 Rosebud 1
120 Fiction 1


Tania Hershman said...

This is fascinating, Cliff. Firstly because I haven't had a story published in any of the mags on the list, which tells me something. Second - it begs the question: should we writers alter our submission strategy (strategy? Firing off wildly at random?) in any way because of this list? I am not sure. Also, all those people who I know have just been nominated for Pushcarts have been nominated by publications that don't appear on this list. What does that say? Is there anything that can be extrapolated from year to year? Who are the judges? I can't find that on the Pushcart website.

Unknown said...

The anthology lists editors, five fiction editors and a couple of poetry editors, in addition to Bill Henderson, the Editor and Publisher of the Pushcart Prize. As you noted, lots of magazines nominate for the prize who never appear on this list, which tells us that a nomination, while better than a kick in the teeth, isn't as significant as it sounds. And that doesn't mean those magazines aren't good places to publish. But I'm still convinced that the Pushcart list is an indicator--not the only indicator--of arrival, if not quality. And so I submit to these magazines . . .

Anonymous said...

Had no idea Ploughshares was soooooo important. And I'm surprised Glimmer Train is so far down.

Thanks for this.

--Michael Leone

Sharon Mauldin Reynolds said...

Thanks, Cliff. I've come to rely on your blog for info like this & am proud to say I've already been rejected by several of these pubs! Good luck with your novel.
sharon mauldin reynolds

Tania Hershman said...

Hi Cliff,
thank you, it certainly is an interesting list, and I didn't mean to demean anyone's Pushcart nomination by saying what I said about the publications not appearing. I was just musing about the process of the whole thing. Thank you for letting me know about the judges. I am going to read your list more carefully and might optimistically submit a few stories myself.

Linera Lucas said...

Thanks so much for doing this.

Seth Fleisher said...

As always, thanks Cliff for the incredibly useful information!

Unknown said...

I wonder how far you have to go down that list until there is a magazine that prints from the slush pile, and is not agent only?

Anonymous said...

Cliff: Great list. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The Threepenny Review (#6) routinely publishes from the slushpile, I can verify.

Unknown said...

Hi Cliff--I don't know you, but my name is Jeanne Leiby; I'm the editor of The Southern Review, and I'm VERY happy with your list. To respond to a comment left here--the MAJORITY of the work published in The Southern Review comes out of the slush pile. Just today, I took a wonderful story by a woman who has never been published before. We take the slush extremely seriously--that's our bread and butter. We rarely get agented work. Cheers, Jeannie

Unknown said...

Thank you for visiting and commenting! It's great to hear that about The Southern Review--since I'm a regular submitter! And since I'm also a subscriber, I look forward to reading the story you mention.

Alex Keegan said...

Excellent List. Thanks

On "nominations". I consider them meaningless if they are from magazines or zines that never make the list.

It just sounds good. Correct me if I'm wrong but I presume any web magazine can nominate its six?

Now if a story was spotted by the judges and nominated by them, I'd be suitably impressed, but when "my best buddy" from "my best buddy's ezine" nominates a story it means squat.

Unknown said...

Right, nominations don't mean much, as I said above. Still, if an editor of any magazine names your piece as one of her six favorites of the year, that's nice, even though it's not going to lead to fame and fortune.

Anonymous said...


This continues to be the single most valuable resource for 'zine ranking on the web (Duotrope's good for a lot of other things, but their response numbers always seem a little hinky.) Thanks for your time in putting this together--I'll be forwarding it on to a lot of friends!

C. Dale said...

Although I am the Poetry Editor and do not play any role in the selection of fiction for NEW ENGLAND REVIEW, I can tell you that we rely on unsolicited submissions for almost 95% of all the fiction we publish.

Unknown said...

C. Dale, thanks for commenting. NER is one of my favorites. I know that most of the magazines on the list--there are some exceptions--depend on the slush pile.

So, Mark--you've heard here from editors of some of the best magazines in the US who say that the slush pile accounts for the bulk of their fiction. So what are you waiting for? Submit!

Lakin said...

What a handy (long) list this is! At least now I can be rejected by quality pubs!;-} Actually it does provide a nice sorting. Thanks for putting this together. In fact, thanks for all the neatsy-keen things you post on your blog.

I also enjoy your commentary on New Yorker stories; very thoughtful and illuminating. But I have to be careful about reading them before I get to the story! I'm always a week or two behind. ~~sigh

Anonymous said...

Thanks Cliff for replying to my post in your last year's puchcart ranking blog.
So it looks as if I won't know whether my nomination in December 2008 made the grade until April next year, or maybe not even until December next year. Well, I can live with that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Cliff, I love seeing your list each year - you deserve a medal.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cliff,

One more to mark with your c--Chelsea has apparently ceased publication:

Thanks for this great resource!

Unknown said...

Thanks! I've applied the dead "c" scroll to Chelsea; I'm sure there are others I've missed, too.

Literary Corner Cafe said...

It's a very interesting list. I, too, am surprised GLIMMER TRAIN is so far down the list and PARIS REVIEW so high.

I did know PLOUGHSHARES was very important, though, but a little surprised it made first place.

Laura said...

I have a question maybe you could answer: you say that you don't factor in the O. Henry or Best American anthologies because their selection processes "don't compare" with those of the Pushcart. Can you elaborate? Is the difference numbers, prestige, consistency?

Thanks for doing all the work to create this list - it's extremely helpful when trying to narrow down the better lit mags to which my hapless stories will be submitted. Cheers!

Unknown said...

Thanks for visiting. I didn't say they "don't compare," I said the "aren't comparable," by which I meant that only they aren't the same. For one thing, the "slicks" (New Yorker, Atlantic, etc.) are considered for BASS and O.Henry, but not for Pushcarts. The nomination process for those, also, is somewhat less transparent, as I understand it, and also considers fewer magazines.

Laura said...

Ah, okay - thanks for clarifying! I was trying to look up the nomination and selection processes for all three and couldn't get much information, which I guess goes back to the transparency issue. Thanks for putting together this awesome compilation of resources; I'm going to forward to all my writerly friends.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Cliff,you are definitely the guy to ask about the Pushcart Prize (or prizes?) So, if there are "winners" -- I've seen a suspicious number of nominees bill themselves as such, but hey, "nominee" ain't bad --
when and how are they notified? You wait for a puff of smoke to emerge from their palace window like medieval popes? Specifically I'm wondering about those submitted this past December. When are they revealed?

Unknown said...

Since I haven't won a Pushcart (there are about 20 winners in each genre each year), I don't know the precise method or timing of notification, but I believe winners will begin to be notified about now and the anthology of winning stories/essays/poems will be released in about 6 months. I believe that "special mentions" are not notified at all--one learns that he or she has been so honored by looking at the volume itself when it comes out or getting a call from a friend who has seen it.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'll add to our comments so far, Cliff, and wonder out loud to see if anybody else can provide the info: Does ANYONE know how and when names of ACTUAL WINNERS of the prizes for stuff sent in in 2008, prizes to be announced in 2009 (about now)are indeed announced? I see a few journals themselves -- NEW LETTERS, for example -- have proudly announced for their winners to be in the 2010anthology. Doesn't the Pushcart Prize administration itself provide that information. Many who "announce" a "win" are in fact merely like the rest of us nominees -- just, well, nominees.
That ain't bad, but I don't think it's a win. -Leighton Scott

Unknown said...

It's possible that the Pushcart Press makes an announcement, but if they do I've never seen it. I've always just heard the news trickle out from the magazines and the selected winners, until I see the actual volume in early December to get the complete scoop. And that may be why PP doesn't announce it--they want the curious like me to buy the anthology every year . . . which I do.

Anonymous said...

Yes, fascinating, as always.

HOWEVER: 12 journals have 40+ prizes, 6 have between 30-40, 8 have 20-30, 22 have 10-20, and 181 have 10 or under.

As a recovering research scientist, being analytical for a moment, what I see is basically 240 journals of which 111 have a single Pushcart...and none of them have yet taken a story of mine (darnit!!!).

Carol Novack said...

Well, Cliff, I think this is meaningless. On top of the quality magazines that have nominated contributors, there are many that don't bother to nominate contributors. Why? One reason may be that the editors are not enamored with the Pushcart Anthology to begin with, and they know that a majority of the nominees who do get in are relatively or extremely well-known or have made the emerging writers' scene as hot new stars. I'll never forget the rejection note I received from one of the "top" journals, in substance: "This is very interesting, but a bit too experimental for ______."

Let's also remember that online journals are not part of the clique. How many are on this list? I'm not sure, as I don't recognize several titles.

Too bad so many writers take these anthologies so seriously.

Unknown said...

Hi, Carol. Thanks for your views (although let me point out that you posted your comment on LAST year's list; the current list is here). I know that the editors of some online journals probably agree with you because there aren't many that are represented in the anthology. The editors are of the view that the quality of online magazines is still spotty; that's debatable, of course. Still, many online magazines DO nominate, and a great many print magazines--most, maybe?--also nominate.

I would dispute your assertion that "editors are not enamored with the Pushcart Anthology to begin with." Clearly you are not, and some others are not, but most editors I know are. In fact, they are thrilled when one of their nominations is chosen and celebrate loudly.

It is true that the anthology doesn't seem to go in much for experimental work, although there are clearly exceptional experimental pieces that do find their way into the book. However, most writers I know are writing mainstream work (as broadly defined) and that is exactly what the anthology wants, and that's exactly why this list is of value to writers like me.

So what you really mean, if you don't mind my interpreting your comment, is that the list is meaningless for YOU. I can live with that. And, by the way, it doesn't surprise me at all that a top journal rejected a piece as being "too experimental," but it does surprise me that anyone would submit a piece that doesn't fit the magazine's aesthetic and expect anything else.

James Cooney said...

I would just like to add my thanks for your service in compiling this valuable resource! I was about to do the same, and was dreading it. How happy was I to see that you had beaten me to it! What a relief.

Jim at Ink and Beans

Unknown said...

Thanks, Jim. Be sure and check out the 2010 list, too, which is here