A Solid Literary Journal and a Resource for Writers
decomP magazinE, previously titled Decomposition Magazine, is an online literary journal that has been in existence for nine years. I have to admit that, on first glance, the website seemed a bit out of date and short. Although this month’s publications are up, some of the genres have just one entry for the issue and the journal’s blog has not been updated since December of 2011. Once I started digging into the literature, the blog, the submission information, and their resource links, I quickly realized the wealth of information decomP’s online platform is offering to potential writers.
They publish work once a month in the genres of prose, poetry, and visual art. They also publish book reviews, however these reviews are only written by their staff members or others they solicit to compose. The journal’s staff seemed very consistent for a nine year run. You’ll find that most of them are scholars, writers, editors, teachers, and community art curators.
As far as the submission process goes, they only accept online submissions, and they provide a solid outline of specifications for all of the genres they publish including word counts, page totals, etc. decomP doesn’t have a statement regarding a type of content they seek, and the topics in this month’s issue varied from story to story, poem to poem. They do accept simultaneous submissions as long as they are notified of accepted publications elsewhere, and they have a detailed explanation of publication rights should they choose your work. Two things they express they aren’t looking for are “genre fiction” and writing that doesn’t fit into their categories of prose and poetry such as interviews, letters, or unsolicited reviews.
Now let’s move on to the work that was there for this month. When I arrived on the home page of the journal I was greeted with “Portrait of a Lady with Gravatic Disrupter” by Patrick Loehr. The image was striking, and as a newcomer to the journal, it instantly set the tone for me. The dated yet modernized woman appears to have two sides–her royal, dated, proper side, and the side that shows more skin and multiple piercings in her ear. As I continued on to read each entry it became clearer to me that decomP welcomes the traditional, the experimental, and work that plays with a combination of both.
The journal proceeds with flash prose. These pieces were written by both established and emerging writers, many of whom are currently pursuing or already possess an MFA, although some of their writers are academics in other subjects. The majority of writers, at least for the current issue, are east coasters, but there were a few outliers in the mix. One story to note was “Egg” by Emily Sandberg, which contains a recording of Sandberg reading the piece. I think this is an asset for any journal and an attractive quality for writers interested in submitting their work. The ability to hear Sandberg’s voice as she read made the story exist in a whole new way. The overall forms for this month’s issue were traditional with paragraph breaks, but form seems to be up to the author’s discretion and goals for the piece. For example, “Upon Receiving the Glove” by Zack Wentz appeared in one block without any indentation or paragraph breaks. This form was puzzling in combination with the disorienting content but further thought provoking because of it. The majority of the stories steered away from final conclusions, but that is often a characteristic of flash prose.
The journal’s poetry section contained poems that were mostly free-verse and left aligned, with a couple form poems, such as a sonnet entitled “Sonnet” by Anthony Opal–although it didn’t contain a traditional rhyme scheme. Instead, the alliteration and rhymes are imbedded in each line and Opal’s reading allows the reader to hear each bend and curve of these sounds. My favorite poem was a mere four lines by Meredith Weiers, entitled “This, Too, Shall Pass.” The minimal language contains poignant imagery and a sense of murkiness that sends the reader back to the beginning and in, again and again.
The journal’s final section contains book reviews. Their staff book reviewers will accept books or chapbooks published during the current calendar year. These texts can be works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or anthologies, but again, they don’t review genre fiction. After a review is written they publish it in the monthly issue of the journal or on their blog. This month’s issue reviews I Take Back the Sponge Cake: A Lyrical Choose-Your-Own Adventured co-authored by Loren Erdrich and Sierra Nelson, Kino by Jurgen Faüth, and He Took a Cab by Mather Schneider.
Although the blog hadn’t been updated since 2011, the posting schedule seemed very consistent up until this point. The blog contains comprehensive book reviews written by book reviewers on staff at decomP. It is an excellent resource for finding out about new and interesting texts. It’s also a source to find out about prize nominations. The journal nominates work published in their journal for awards such as the Micro Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the Best of the Net. They post the results of these nominations on the awards page. Some of the awards won by decomP writers include storySouth’s Million Writers Award, the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions of 2012 Longlist, and more.
Finally, their extensive list of links to other literary journals creates a valuable resource for finding other publication opportunities. Overall, decomP has a fresh, honest tone in their communication that feels inviting and void of pretension. Most of all, their investment in the writers they publish is demonstrated by nominations for additional awards. Their book reviews and links make this journal’s site more than simply a literary publication; it also becomes a writer’s resource and a venue for literary engagement.