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New Issue of Triquarterly Online Comes Out Jan. 10

Readers of the online literary magazine hail from more than 120 countries

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December 16, 2010 | by Wendy Leopold
"Study for Unicorn Skull" by Riva Lehrer.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A short story by the late American writer William Goyen and an essay about it by his French translator, Patrice Repusseau, will be among 44 literary works in TriQuarterly Online’s next issue. Coming out Jan. 10, 2011, it is TQO’s second issue since it became the online literary journal of the Northwestern University graduate creative writing program, which offers both an MA and an MFA degree.

TriQuarterly Online officially made its Web debut in July. Since its earlier “soft launch” in April, the online journal of writing, art and cultural inquiry has had more than 34,000 hits and 116,000 page views from nearly 21,000 visitors

“That represents an enormous leap in readership,” says Reginald Gibbons, who was TriQuarterly’s editor from 1981 to 1997. Gibbons is professor of English in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and, with S.L. Wisenberg, co-directs the MA/MFA program in creative writing in the School of Continuing Studies.

“The Web statistics immediately indicate that we are reaching a large audience,” says faculty member Susan Harris, who advises the MA/MFA creative writing students who edit the literary journal. 

At last count, TriQuarterly Online’s readers came from 123 countries. The United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany and India are the five top countries in readership. “China is twelfth, but, among other nations, we have readers in Sudan, Cambodia, Senegal, Azerbaijan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Jordan and Malta,” says Harris.

The Jan. 10 issue (Issue 139) will showcase the work of 23 writers, including eight poets and five prose authors who were selected from general submissions. It will include an historical essay by Garrett J. Brown, poems by Spanish poet Jordi Doce, new work by contemporary American poets Bruce Weigl and David Trinidad, and a hitherto unpublished short story by Ben Greenman. The Los Angeles Times described Greenman’s recently published novel “What He’s Poised to Do” as “astonishing.” 

Harris, who since 2003 has edited Words Without Borders, an online magazine publishing literature in translation, emphasizes the advantages of TQO’s format. “The statistics on readership are in themselves not only thrilling but also are an illustration of the power of online publishing,” she says.

Using web analytical information, TQO can learn where its readers are, what they’re looking at, what they come back to look at and how long they spend on each page. “This kind of information is very difficult to access or quantify with a print publication,” Harris says.

Although TQO publishes only twice a year, the online platform permits the frequent addition of new content to the journal. “You can’t be static,” says Harris. “One of the advantages of online publishing is that your readers come back, but to keep them coming back you have to constantly refresh.“

The Views section includes interviews, book reviews and essays written by MA/MFA students as well as outside writers. With occasional excerpts from forthcoming books, the section is updated weekly. TQO also includes a blog about digital and print publishing and writing. Written by creative nonfiction alumnus Matt Wood, it is updated almost daily.

TQO has both an active Facebook presence and a Twitter account through which new content and writing-related news are conveyed. “TQO’s online format and use of social media permit us to build a dialogue around its contents in ways print publications cannot,” Harris says.

“The new issue is a mix of works by veteran writers, younger writers and a few writers who are still relatively unknown,” says Dana Norris, the MFA nonfiction candidate who has served as managing editor of TQO Issue 139.

“Working as managing editor on TriQuarterly Online is an honor,” says Norris, who will serve in that position for a total of six months. “I have had the privilege of corresponding with authors, learning about copyright and contracts, making sure authors are paid, assisting with art selection, communicating with editorial staff and doing all the things that putting out a quality publication requires. It’s both an exhausting and wonderfully satisfying learning experience.”