November 1st, 2011 / 12:22 pm
Literary Magazine Club

{LMC}: Beecher’s One

The first thing you will notice about Beecher’s is the design and production–clean and elegant. The spine is bound with black thread. The pages are thick, linen, creamy, the grain of it holding the ink to the page.

Introducing a video about the debut issue, the editors said, “Beecher’s One was designed to give the text inside primacy, and as well record the reader’s tactile interaction with the physical magazine. The layout is straight-forward, and the text is presented simply in a black serif font on white paper. The physical object, with a naked spine and rigid, toothy, absorbent paper is meant to show evidence of the reader by literally absorbing and recording the reading experience: the hands holding the book, the fingers on the page, the bending of turned pages, the weakening of the unprotected spine.”

Reading Beecher’s is, indeed, a physical experience that openly acknowledges and engages the reader. This is a magazine that wants to develop a relationship with readers and writers. In this, and other regards, Beecher’s succeeds beautifully. The writing showcased within the magazine’s pages is as engaging as the design and production. Contributors include Rebecca Wadlinger, Alec Niedenthal, Joshua Cohen, Rhoads Stevens, John Dermot Woods, Phil Estes, Creed J. Shepard, Lincoln Michel, John Coletti, Yelena Akthiorskaya, Colin Winnette, Dana Ward & Stephanie Young, James Yeh, Alexis Orgera, Rozalia Jovanovic, Ricky Garni, and Justin Runge as well as interviews with Stephen Elliott and Adam Robinson.

There have been a few conversations as of late about the legitimacy of graduate student run magazines. At Indiana Review, Jennifer Luebbers says, ” I can’t help but take issue with the notion that graduate students are incapable of making informed decisions. I believe our ideas, aesthetics, and opinions matter; I believe we can—and should—play a significant role in shaping the contemporary literary world.”

Beecher’s is only one issue and the idea of another at this point. We don’t know what the magazine will become but there is a whole lot of potential here and the magazine shows, quite ably, what a graduate student run magazine can offer the contemporary literary world.

What are your initial impressions of Beecher’s? What questions do you have for the editorial staff, past and present? What pieces stood out to you in some way?

LMC Administrivia:

Beecher’s is selling the issue at a 40% discount for HTMLGIANT readers. Take them up on that bargain–$6.50 for a great literary magazine which is beautifully designed and produced–you can’t pass that up. To take advantage of this discount, go here. Enter the password HTMLGIANT.  This will take them to a secure Paypal portal on the Beecher’s website for you to complete your order.

Future club selections:
January 2012: Versal
March 2012: Salt Hill
May 2012: Trnsfr
July 2012: Uncanny Valley
September 2012: J Journal: New Writing on Justice

Stay tuned for special offers and giveaways for these magazines.

If you’re interested in writing a guest post or some other feature related to Beecher’s, get in touch by e-mailing me at roxane at Topics you might consider discussing include the design, content, overall aesthetic, whether the magazine met your expectations, if the debut is promising, what the magazine contributes to the literary scene, etc. You might also do an in-depth analysis of one writer’s work, etc. There are no limits.

There’s also a Google Group with light posting about literary magazines and club announcements. If you want to join the group or want more information about the LMC, if you’re an editor who wants your magazine featured, etc, send me an e-mail. To summarize: however you want to participate please get in touch or watch this space in November when hopefully, we’ll have a great discussion about an interesting new literary magazine.


  1. Nathan Huffstutter

      Aside from the care that has gone into crafting a gorgeous physical object, one of the first things I noticed about the issue was the absence of individual story or poem titles from the table of contents page. I would be curious to find out if this was purely a design consideration – although the stepped, descending author names make for an incredibly crisp layout, it also gives the impression of privileging the writer above their work.

  2. The Author Function

      That is an interesting layout choice. I’m not sure privileging the writer above work is necessarily a bad thing. On a practical level, when dealing with fiction and poetry, readers probably care more about who is writing the piece when deciding what to read than what the title is. Indeed, you often see literary magazines avoid titles if an author has multiple pieces included and instead say Three poems by X, four short-shorts by Y. 

  3. marshall

      “Reading Beecher’s is […] a physical experience[.]”

  4. bobby

      Damn, I really tried to finish this issue before today’s round up. Got to page 83 out of 116, so I am *some what* okay to comment on this. 

      The content in this issue is fantastic, but I’ll reiterate what’s already been said about the fantastic production quality/value of this first issue. I didn’t even notice the riffle on the the cover until like, a week ago. The finishing paper, the exposed spines of the signatures, the feel of the paper; this book is a fucking fetish and I have no problem w/ it. 
      I think the content was great too, but the book’s form and design kind of almost outshine the content. The interview w/ Adam Robinson was probably my favorite part — I like that the internet is his muse. John Dermot Woods little pieces were fresh, replete w/ little drawing things. 

      Phil Estes pieces were quick and killer. And now that I realize it, my favorite parts are the exact middle and the covers. I can’t wait to see the next issue. 

      (Also, Cohen kind of called it in w/ his piece — he even called in his bio!)

  5. Anonymous

      I really dug the TOC, actually. The left-right poetry-fiction split was clean, nice-looking, and above all helpful. In general, my experience has been that a poem or story’s title doesn’t particularly tell me much on its own until after I’ve read the piece, so I’m not really tied to the idea of it being in the TOC.

  6. Anonymous

      The tactile feel of the book is the first thing I noticed, and its production is really interesting. This is a refreshingly minimalist and physical object — a wonderful break for those of us who spend our entire days in front of the computer.

      I’ll look forward to hearing what everyone else has to say about the content. I agree with bobby above that the interview with Adam Robinson was probably my favorite part. Also Estes’ second piece was gnarly.

      I’m excited to see how the next issue develops. I expect big things based on this one.

  7. Tell Us What You Think: {LMC + Beecher’s} | Beecher's Magazine

      […] Join the conversation at HTMLGIANT.  […]

  8. Tyler Gobble

      I really enjoyed the TOC too. In a journal I do think especially initially I am concerned with a writer over their work since I buy or read the issue for the work by writers I’m interested in (unless of course it’s one of the few mags I read front to back). This style is to the point and bouncy.

  9. Tyler Gobble

      I Like what you say about the reading experience engaging the reader. My favorite pieces pushed that connection: the drawing/fresh pieces by John Dermot Woods, the insightful Robinson interview, and the energetic Winnette story.

      I think those concerned by grad student editing are as misguided as those concerned with online journals, if not more so. Sure some staffs will suck but I’m more concerned with the work they publish and the overall job they do. And this first issue has the Beecher’s staff doing a whole lot right.

  10. Nathan Huffstutter

      I liked the Cohen bio — toss the ball to the ref and act like it’s not your first time in the end zone. 

      As to whether he phoned-in the piece, since Beechers #1 likely benefits more from his inclusion than he benefits from being included, I tried to read Cohen’s contribution as being something cool and altruistically-minded. Still, man did I choke on a line of description:

      “Grave in mild weather, which we’re not having now — rain slipping like slim girls of cousinship and dream between sill and pane, betwixt shingles…”

      Not to say Beecher’s editors would have shared my subjective reaction, they very well may have liked the piece exactly as written, but it did make me wonder about the politics of editing a writer’s work when the more common power-imbalance shifts to significantly favor writer over editor.

      My favorite piece in the issue was Rebecca Wadlinger’s poem “Mrs. Mayfield and the Museum of Bodies.” I read it five times.

  11. Anonymous
  12. Cvan

      Roxane, speaking of lit journals, the new Cerise Press is up now.

  13. Beecher’s | Ben Pfeiffer

      […] as she could make it. The other editors were no less diligent. You can read some reviews of that first issue at HTMLGiant, where we were selected as part of Literary Magazine Club. You can also read a four-way interview […]