Penguin Random House Offers a Lit Mag With Quality and Variety in Content
At only five years old, Hazlitt has the solidness that a magazine needs these days to be modest. Take for example one of their very few self-promoting articles on the site. In May of 2016, Hazlitt announced their 15 nominations for National Magazine awards with the sub-title: “We are pleased.” Many a magazine could take a cue from Hazlitton modesty, though not every magazine has the backing of the publishing powerhouse, Penguin Random House Canada.
Neither does every magazine have anywhere near the variety in content. At the unveiling of the website back in 2012, company president, Robert Wheaton told The National Post that Hazlitt was founded on the premise that “good writers and good voices can make any topic interesting.” As if this were a challenge, Hazlitt now publishes content under such topic headings as: society, culture, books, music, fiction, essay, film, television, comics, parenting, and mouthful. Yes, that is most certainly a mouthful.
And what’s wrong with turning to writers who are tried and true? Nothing, certainly, though it’s an interesting contrast to the statement on Hazlitt’s About page, which states briefly, that its site is “essential Internet” because it publishes “writers not heard anywhere else.” Interesting contrast with the repeat contributors. Turns out, this is only one of the many, many contrasts that come to light on Hazlitt.
Another contrast, and no less interesting, is the magazine’s representation of gender. In an infamous 2013 interview for Hazlitt, award-winning writer and literature teacher, David Gilmour said he was “not interested in teaching books by women” because he vowed “to teach only the people that [he] truly, truly loved and unfortunately, none of those happen to be women.” Of course the opinion of one interviewee in no way reflects the views of the magazine that publishes it…but it’s interesting to note that since this interview, many of Hazlitt’s contributors are women.
But that’s not the end of the gender story. Consider the two separate podcast series that Hazlitt publishes. The Arcade (mentioned earlier) is hosted and produced by male contributor, Anshuman Iddamsetty, and often features writers, comedians, artists who need no introduction because their names are universally known: Anne Rice, Jim Gaffigan, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Chuck Palahniuk. There seems to be a slightly heavier bent toward male guests, though it’s difficult to be precise due to the volume of episodes. The Arcade page lists for a description: “the flagship culture podcast.”
The second podcast is called Cavern of Secrets, is hosted and produced by female contributor, Lauren Mitchell, and is described as “a show about extraordinary women.” To this, I might add a disclaimer: “You may not know their names today, but you will tomorrow.” All women featured on this podcast write, speak, or create art in some way about feminism, race, culture, and coping with life. What’s also interesting to note, almost all the guests are non-white, and hail from all over Canada to Chile to as far as Ghana. This may be a dangerous statement to make considering the sheer volume of content on Hazlitt, but I dare say that there is more diversity in voice in these two podcasts than in the whole of the magazine.
One thing that is clear, though, is the content: it is quality. But this should come as no surprise considering Hazlitt editor, Christopher Frey, has won five National Magazine awards and contributes to CBC Radio and numerous top Canadian print and electronic publications.
What’s also clear is that Hazlitt is interested in reviewing pitches, though one would imagine a competitive acceptance rate considering it pays $250 (Canadian) for 600-800 words. (This pay rate assumes that rate listed in Quill and Quire in 2013 is still accurate.) If you’re serious about submitting, take a look at their Submission page, found through a link in the footer. There are tips on what Hazlitt is looking for, not looking for, as well as links to ten pieces that they consider representational.
It can be dizzying to wade through the pages and pages of content on Hazlitt’s site, especially because the majority of it is not found through the main tabs at the top menu. Unless you are looking exclusively for poetry, which seems to be one of the only forms of writing not featured, odds are that you will find something you like. But even in this case, poetry is represented indirectly, through interviews with poets.
So, the ultimate lesson with Hazlitt seems to be similar to the ultimate lesson of life: If you find something you like, read it, study it, enjoy it. You may never find your way back to it again.