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2021 Indie Lit Fair, Vol. I: Art and Storytelling

White flower on left; text in center: “Indie Lit Fair. Vol 1: Art and Storytelling.” PEN World Voices Festival and CLMP logos on right

Honoring the art of the possible and the power of storytelling to push boundaries, challenge inherited narratives, and give voice to hope.

“CLMP, the only nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated to supporting independent literary magazines and presses, is thrilled to present the 2021 Indie Lit Fair, as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. This year, we offer a virtual showcase of magazines and books published by independent literary publishers from across the country that resonate with the festival’s theme, ‘Power to the People.’ We hope you’ll be inspired to read, share, and buy these titles, which represent the vital role indie lit publishers play in our culture by connecting the greatest diversity of distinctive writers to equally diverse communities of readers.”
—Mary Gannon, Executive Director, CLMP


Founded in 2016
Based at the University of Central Arkansas, Arkana: A Literary Journal of Mysteries and Marginalized Voices is a quarterly online publication that “seeks and fosters a sense of shared wonder by publishing inclusive art that asks questions, explores mystery, and works to make visible the marginalized, the overlooked, and those whose voices have been silenced.” Issue 9 features poetry by Nihal Mubarak and Mary Paulson, fiction by Francis Golm, creative nonfiction by James Jacob Seawel, an interview with Carmen Giménez Smith, and more.

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Screenshot of Arkana issue

The Common

Founded in 2009
The Common, a literary magazine based at Amherst College in Amherst, MA, publishes two print issues a year and seeks “to deepen our individual and collective sense of place.” Issue 21 features a special portfolio of work from Morocco, which includes stories translated from Arabic and from the Hindiyeh Museum of Art, as well as new fiction by Celeste Mohammed and poetry by Peter Filkins, Aleksandar Hemon, Jose Hernandez Diaz, and more.

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Issue 20 cover of The Common


Founded in 2011
The literary magazine Contrapuntos—which is primarily Spanish-language but accepts submissions in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Galician—is published in Seaside, CA by Digitus Indie Publishers in annual themed issues that include Eros y Tánatos and Ciudades (in)visibles. The most recent issue, Patiens, houses photography, short fiction, poetry, essays, and an interview and “aims at showing the capability and transformability of how people adapt to the never-ending changing world of today.”

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“Patiens” issue cover of Contrapuntos

DMZ Colony, Don Mee Choi

Wave Books, 2020
This National Book Award-winning poetry collection, which incorporates poems, prose, photographs, and drawings, “is a tour de force of personal and political reckoning set over eight acts. . . evincing the power of translation as a poetic device to navigate historical and linguistic borders.”

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DMZ Colony book cover


Founded in 2005
Each issue of Wilmington, NC’s Ecotone reimagines the concept of place by publishing “the best place-based writing and art being made today, paying attention to who has been invited to this conversation, and who has been excluded from it.” In the recent Garden issue, writers including Kazim Ali, Destiny O. Birdsong, and Kathryn Nuernberger consider gardens both literal and figurative.

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“The Garden” issue cover of Ecotone

Fablesque, Anna Maria Hong

Tupelo Press, 2020
Hong’s hybrid genre poetry collection harnesses folktale, fairy tale, and collage to embrace “the great feminist tradition of retelling old tales to imbue them with female subjectivity, speaking to the thoughts, desires, and outrage of contemporary American women.”

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Fablesque book cover

Further News of Defeat, Michael X. Wang

Autumn House Press, 2020
Winner of the 2021 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection, Wang’s short fiction “is rich with characters who have known struggle and defeat and who find themselves locked in pivotal moments of Chinese history—such as World War II and the Tiananmen Square massacre—as they face losses of the highest order and still find cause for revival.”

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Further News of Defeat book cover

(Her)oics: Women’s Lived Experiences During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Regal House Publishing, 2021
Edited by Amy Roost and Joanell Serra, this anthology brings together the stories of 52 women from across the United States—including those who are “front-line responders and recovering patients; going out to work, staying home to work, and losing their jobs; living with multiple generations and living in isolation; women grieving loved ones and celebrating new love; women preparing to give birth and supporting the dying”—and is “inspired by both the risks of the pandemic inherent to women and their tremendous role in the country’s response.”

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(Her)oics book cover

I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poets in Defense of Global Human Rights

Lost Horse Press, 2009
Edited by Melissa Kwasny and M. L. Smoker, this anthology features contemporary poems in defense of global human rights—by Lois Red Elk, Ilya Kaminsky, Philip Metres, Yusef Komunyakaa, and many others—that ask the question, “What is our vision of a future wherein human rights are not only respected but expanded?”

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I Go to the Ruined Place book cover

The Malevolent Volume, Justin Phillip Reed

Coffee House Press, 2020
This second poetry collection from Reed—whose debut book received the National Book Award—“finds agency in the other-than-human identities assigned to those assaulted by savageries of the state” and “summons a retaliatory, counterviolent Black spirit to revolt and to inhabit the revolting.”

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The Malevolent Volume book cover

Please See Me

Founded in 2018
Please See Me is an online literary magazine based in Chicago, IL “seeking to elevate the voices and health-related stories of vulnerable populations and those who care for them.” The most recent issue, Mental Health, includes the winners of Please See Me’s

2021 Mental Health Awareness Writing Contest as well as other poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and art—all engaging with the importance of building “a world where everyone feels empowered to share their authentic voice.”

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“Mental Health” issue cover of Please See Me

The Roadrunner Review

Founded in 2018
The Roadrunner Review is an online literary journal produced by students at La Sierra University in Riverside, CA that publishes work by students from around the world in three issues a year, seeking to “amplify younger voices that are not often part of the literary conversation, thus saying that there is no power if young people are not being heard.” The most recent issue, Issue 7, features fiction, poetry, and nonfiction from students at the University of York, Imo State University, the University of Port Harcourt, the University of Ilorin, the University of Kansas, the University of Delhi, Stanford University, and many more.

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Issue 7 cover of The Roadrunner Review

ROOM: A Sketchbook for Analytic Life

Founded in 2017
This New York City-based literary magazine, which publishes issues in print and online three times a year, was “conceived as an agent of community building and transformation” and features an intersection of psychoanalysis, politics, art, poetry, and culture that “brings different perspectives to bear on the complex problems facing us all.” The most recent issue, ROOM 2.21, includes poetry, art, and more from practicing psychoanalysts and psychotherapists as well as from other writers and artists.

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Issue 2.21 cover of ROOM

Rusted Radishes

Founded in 2012
Beirut-based Rusted Radishes, which publishes English and Arabic work in print and digital issues as well as in regular web features, “is meant to gather people who have a connection to the Arab world, not just from the region, but also the diaspora and those in between.” Issue 9: Health and Illness includes comics by Dana Al Assir, an essay by Eveline Hitti, and more.

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“Health and Illness” issue cover of Rusted Radishes

Spider Love Song and Other Stories, Nancy Au

Acre Books, 2019
Longlisted for the 2020 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection, this book of short fiction “treads the fault line that forms between lovers, family, friends, and culture, exposing injuries and vulnerabilities, but also the strength and courage necessary to recast resentment and anger into wonder and power.”

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Spider Love Song and Other Stories book cover

Tastes Like War, Grace M. Cho

Feminist Press, 2021
“Part food memoir, part sociological investigation,” Tastes Like War is a hybrid text “about a daughter’s search through intimate and global history for the roots of her mother’s schizophrenia” and journey “to hold space for her mother’s multiple voices.”

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Tastes Like War book cover

We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics

Nightboat Books, 2020
In this poetry anthology edited by Andrea Abi-Karam and Kay Gabriel, intergenerational trans poets “imagine an altogether overturned world in poems that pursue the particular and multiple trans relationships to desire, embodiment, housing, sex, ecology, history, pop culture, and the working day.”

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We Want It All book cover

The Wild Fox of Yemen, Threa Almontaser

Graywolf Press, 2021
Almontaser’s debut poetry collection, selected by Harryette Mullen as the winner of the Walt Whitman Award at the Academy of American Poets, is “a love letter to the country and people of Yemen, a portrait of young Muslim womanhood in New York after 9/11, and an extraordinarily composed examination of what it means to carry in the body the echoes of what came before.”

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The Wild Fox of Yemen book cover

World Literature Today

Founded in 1927
Based at the University of Oklahoma in Norman and considered one of the oldest continuously published literary magazines in the United States, World Literature Today promotes “contemporary international literature from every corner of the globe.” The most recent issue, Redreaming Dreamland: 21 Writers & Artists Reflect on the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial, features poetry by Joy Harjo and Tracy K. Smith, essays and articles by Minna Salami and Tess O’Dwyer, a portfolio of writing about Chinese Migrant Workers’ Literature, and more.

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“Redreaming Dreamland” issue cover of World Literature Today

World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Milkweed Editions, 2020
According to Kiese Laymon, Nezhukumatathil’s New York Times-bestselling essay collection, illustrated by Fumi Nakamura, “lingers in a world where power, people, and the literal outside wrestle painfully, beautifully.”

Buy the Book »

World of Wonders book cover

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