Some literary journals have one or two editors whose reigns span decades. Over time, the publication takes on their voices and comes to display the tastes, passions, and yes, the blind-spots of their editors, forged by the years.
Prime Number Magazine, the literary journal of Press 53, based in Winston-Salem, has made a different choice. If necessity is the mother of invention, the journal faced a dilemma when both their poetry editor and fiction editor resigned simultaneously prior to Issue 83, in 2016. Instead of hiring new permanent editors, the rag decided each issue would now feature two guest editors and introduce work by the guest editors for the forthcoming issue.
Published quarterly, Prime Number Magazine hopes to “find and share remarkable voices to ignite and inspire remarkable minds.” Every issue is free to read online.
The most recent, Issue 107, offers three poems and three short stories selected by guest editors Robert Lee Brewer and Elizabeth Gonzalez; an introduction to next issue’s guest editors Gabrielle Brant Freeman and Chauna Craig; and a remembrance of Okla Elliott by Press 53 publisher Kevin Morgan Watson. Each issue features the winners of the 53-Word Story Contest, held monthly. Past contributors include Denise Smith Cline, Christine Hale, current Piedmont Laureate Mimi Herman, Joseph R. Mills, Ty Stumpf, and many others.
Prime Number Magazine “seeks to publish distinctive poetry and short fiction, regardless of theme, form, or style. Contributors will include both emerging and established writers as selected by our guest editors.” Submissions are open year-round. Poets should submit one unpublished poem, no more than three pages. Fiction writers should submit no more than 5,303 words. All submissions should go through Press 53’s Submittable portal.
While all issues are free to read online, you can sign up to be notified whenever a new issue comes out, here.
Prime Number Magazine holds two annual contests, both of which have deadlines in mid-April. The Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry awards $1,000 and publication to a collection of poems no less than 60 pages and no more than 120 pages in length. The Prime Number Magazine Award for Short Fiction awards $1,000 and publication to a collection of short stories. The 2017 winners were Leona Sevick (Poetry) and Stephanie Carpenter (Fiction).
And by the way, don’t be alarmed if you’re cruising the archives and it looks like many issues are “missing.” Prime Number Magazine numbers their issues only with prime numbers, so if you’re looking for issue 100, say, you’ll be looking for a long time! It doesn’t exist.