If They Won’t Let Us Play…

I’m not sure how I feel about wordriver, but I’m glad it exists, and I’m wildly intrigued.

You see, wordriver is a new (as of 2009) literary journal. Like many other little magazines, wordriver publishes short stories, poetry, and personal essays. However, as far as I know, wordriver is unique in one way. You see, wordriver publishes only the work of adjunct (and part-time) faculty members.




In case you’re wondering, that’s the sound of me looking at a blank screen. On one hand, I want to stand up and cheer. Yes! If they exclude you (and me) from the game, we’ll start our own game. Go team!


On the other hand, unless they are looking for creative writing jobs, fiction publications won’t get an adjunct a job, and writing poetry instead of scholarship won’t even show up on a job application. And, even more to the point, literary journals don’t have any barrier against adjuncts publishing there. For the most part, they don’t even care. They might care about another set of credentials, such as awards, communicated in a cover letter, but not tenure status. So, even if it succeeds, what’s wordriver succeeding at?


They say they’re looking for “work that demonstrates the creativity and craft of adjunct/part-time instructors in English and other disciplines.” Fair enough, and an article in the Chronicle indicates that editor Beth McDonald had been seeking ways to celebrate adjunct literary creativity for years before starting this journal.


At that goal, this would seem an easy success…but at what game? Will publication here be viewed as highly as at journals who don’t limit submissions? I’m not sure. I think we’ll have to wait to see if any of the pieces published in wordriver get recognized by annual “best ___ of the year” collections or win awards.


I will say this: the contributors’ biographies are impressive to the point of being heartbreaking. The schools they studied at and publication histories make it clear they deserve more than they’re getting professionally.

But is wordriver it?


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  1. I wouldn’t stake my future on whether I write fiction or non-fiction to be accepted at a college or university; it’s the classes on your transcript that count. If you don’t have the classes, you don’t teach. I’ve had two books published, one a reseach project and the other addressing the needs of high school students who still need specific instruction in reading. For five years, I also wrote a weekly column for our local newspaper with additional 2X4 columns on human interest. I also wrote 900 test questions for a local on-line testing firm and was given credit as an artistic contributor. Non of my past work got me in the English instructor’s door.

    To a point I understand it. The schools must follow the standards of accreditation; those rules are tight and with good purpose.

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