“The Black Warrior Review is a Southern journal,” says 2019’s Managing Editor Jackson Saul. “It’s always been a Southern journal. Even if the writers are not Southern, they find a home in the South.”
This hospitality is what sets The Black Warrior Review (BWR) apart from its peers since its founding in 1974. Despite being the oldest continuously run graduate literary journal in the United States, BWR and its staff are unfazed by romantic notions of custom or heritage. Instead, BWR nudges Southern literature forward, viewing the Southern experience through unconventional lenses. It gives voice to minorities, immigrants, LGBTQIA+ and others who struggle to find a platform to be heard from. These voices are unconventional, unapologetic and incredibly moving.
BWR receives continued refreshment each year, due largely to the annual turnover with an entirely new student editorial staff each year. A new staff continues to keep the journal’s focus fresh with new ideas.
The BWR editorial class of 2018, led by Cat Ingrid Leeches, completed the application and groundwork that resulted in receiving the 2019 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize – a print development grant that covers $5,000 per year for up to three years. While several BWR-featured writers have won awards in the past, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, this is the first time the journal has received a national commendation.
“Receiving this award is a confirmation of what others have already known about us,” stated Saul.
In 2019, the staff heightened its commitment to excellence. Saul and his colleague, Editor Mark Galarrita, have already outlined their plan for the publication.
“In the coming years, we will use the grant to increase sales and improve the journal,” says Saul. “We have hired an online editor and waived the submissions fee – which we think will lead to better content and a larger pool of work.”
Already known for setting the career course for rising writers, BWR can now afford an additional online volume to continue to elevate the voices of marginalized writers and find new risk-taking work.
“I want to be on the right side of history,” says Galarrita. “This is our chance to get the story right and reach an all-new audience. It’s time the world heard about the real South – the South you don’t see in the media.”
The Black Warrior Review is sponsored by the MFA Program in Creative Writing and is produced through the work of graduate research assistants in the department. The University of Alabama’s Creative Writing MFA is one of two 4-year programs in the United States; many students take advantage of the fourth year to write extensive theses, pursue a second master’s degree or gain additional teaching experience.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.