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Literary Spotlight: The Blue Mountain Review

‘We want to inspire those who carry the misconception that you can’t make a living through art,’ says the founder of this six-year-old journal.

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An essay titled “Growing Pains of an Adolescent America.” The winners of the “Women in Resilience” poetry contest. An interview with magician Eric Henning, who’s performed at three presidential inaugurations. Short fiction titled “Neighborhood Zombies.” These are just a few of the pieces you’ll find in the November 2020 issue of The Blue Mountain Review.

The six-year-old cultural journal is part of The Southern Collective Experience, which brings together visual artists, musicians, poets, and writers to support one another and their creative work. Poet Clifford Brooks founded the organization in 2010 and serves as poetry editor of the Review.

Tone, editorial content of The Blue Mountain Review

“Diversity is one reason the magazine flourishes,” he explains. “We don’t exclude – and we’ve never excluded – from day one. If you want to be a journal of culture, you represent culture. All culture. There are brilliant writers writing in every genre about everything. We want to see it. We want to share it.”

He appreciates accessible prose and poetry – poems like Roy Bentley’s “Marlon Brando and his Dog in Libertyville, Illinois, 1950” (November 2020), which juxtaposes thoughts on a LIFE magazine photo of the actor with the image of Appalachian children playing flag football on the Fourth of July. Bentley writes:


“Maybe a few touchdowns isn’t triumph over much.

It’s certainly not Brando and his dog in LIFE.

But to imagine that Appalachian children should be

seen and not heard is to miss this bright hour.”

Along with poetry, short fiction, and essays, Blue Mountain Review includes book and movie reviews and interviews. “Our interviews are conversations, not interrogations,” Brooks notes. “They include artists from all genres: landscapers, mathematicians, pilots, architects, magicians. We’ve also had a litany of musicians, along with movers and shakers in the literary world, run alongside those who are newly gathering a foothold. We want to inspire those who carry the misconception that you can’t make a living through art. We want them to realize they can.”

One of his favorite interviews focuses on Georgia novelist Terry Kay. “He spelled out, briefly, how you get through the first sentence, the first page, first chapter, first book,” Brooks says. “That interview encapsulates the humor and educational value that we offer in every issue.”



He points to Jianqing Zheng’s poem “Storytelling” (November 2020), inspired by Southern author Eudora Welty’s memoir One Writer’s Beginnings, as the type of submission he likes to receive. “The title draws me to the piece because, in the South, we grew up steeped in storytelling,” he explains. “There’s a simplicity to the poem – the image of the calm reassurance of a mother telling stories – but there is also these moving parts.”

He also admires a story called “Buddy” by Leslee Becker, about a protagonist in a moment of crisis. “I love it because it’s erudite yet breathes well with readers,” Brooks says. “It’s a deceptively simple story, a story from someone who knows the melody of conversation.”

Becker’s story begins:


“Tom’s dog died last week, wife left him a month ago, and now he was getting a tooth pulled. Dr. Larson told Tom she liked his travel articles, and suggested placing his thoughts elsewhere. He pictured his wife in a desert, regretting her disloyalty and unhygienic practices. She had diseased gums, and her teeth were dropping into the sand.”

Humorous submissions are most welcome at Blue Mountain Review. “We’re never irreverent,” Brooks says, “but we love it when you capture those moments and make us laugh out loud.”

Advice for potential contributors

Brooks has a strong piece of advice for potential contributors to Blue Mountain Review. “Please, for the love of all that’s holy, follow the submission guidelines, and I will dance at your wedding,” he says.


He and his fellow editors ask for submissions in 12-point Georgia font with an author bio of 100 words or fewer; a cover letter is optional. Send one to three poems and short fiction and essays to 2,500 words. Writers should feel free to pitch interviews and reviews as well. “Write what you know. Don’t pretend to be someone else because it shows,” Brooks says. “If you love a piece, and you have fun writing it, people will have fun reading it.”

He reiterates that the goal of Blue Mountain Review is to showcase a wealth of diverse experiences from a variety of poets and writers. “I embrace every literary subject, in all the genres,” Brooks says. “We do this together, and we do this holding hands.”

The Blue Mountain Review at a glance

“A Southern publication, but we do not define the boundaries of that interpretation.”


Reading period: Year-round.

Length: 1-3 poems, prose to 2,500 words.

Genres: Fiction, nonfiction, poetry.

Contest: LGBTQ Poetry Chapbook Contest.

Submission format: Via Submittable online.

Contact: Poetry Editor Clifford Brooks and Prose Editor Terrence Hawkins at



Contributing editor Melissa Hart is the author of Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens (Sasquatch, 2019).Twitter/Instagram: @WildMelissaHart