If you’ve wondered about the name of WAG’s literary journal, the Bacopa is a genus of aquatic plants, annuals and perennials that grow worldwide in tropical/sub-tropical areas, including north central Florida. Some have stems low to the ground; others grow tall; blossom colors range from white to blue or even purple; leaves are sometimes matched on either side, sometimes curling around the stems. Used in herbal medicine, certain species can even heal contaminated soil. Bacopa is diverse, embracing, restorative.
Like its namesake, Bacopa Literary Review is flourishing. We’ve received more than 800 entries and there’s less than a month until submissions close on June 30, so we urge WAG members to submit right away: one entry at a time in either poetry, literary fiction, or creative nonfiction.
Bacopa has a completely new editorial board this year. I’m Editor-in-Chief and also an artist and author of poetry, found poetry, and flash memoir. Susie Baxter, Associate Editor, teaches memoir writing at Santa Fe College and has published C.G. & Ethel: A Family History. Managing Editor Mary Bridgman has completed her first cozy mystery, and her essay “Tell Them You Can Do It” was recently featured on Chicken Soup for the Soul. Our talented genre editors include Poetry Editor Kaye Linden—award winning writer in all genres and short fiction instructor at Santa Fe College; Fiction Editor U.R. Bowie—whose eight published books include four works of creative literary fiction; and Creative Nonfiction Editor Rick Sapp—full-time freelancer with more than forty books on diverse subjects.
Our 2016 cover by Christy Sheffield Sanford is the winner of a new annual contest, judged this year by local artist Stacey Breheny. Although past covers have been elegant, reflecting six successful years of publication, our new editorial board sought to refresh our image in the eyes of the writing public—carrying out the Bacopa flower theme with a visual invitation to poets and writers from an ever-broadening, diverse population.
Also new this year is our Editor’s Blog, where we review Bacopa prize-winning pieces and other writing we respect, so submitters can see the quality and type of work we want to publish. These entries are then promoted on our Facebook and Twitter pages. (A special thanks here to WAG webmaster Robin Ingle for generously sharing her expertise on productive use of social media.)
While some journals employ readers, at Bacopa our editors read every submission in their genres. Submissions are blind, all work considered for publication and prizes based solely on literary merit. The poetry we publish will include traditional and experimental forms; it could possibly be disguised as flash fiction. We look for creative nonfiction that makes us laugh or cry—as experimental as other literary forms while remaining grounded in fact. In fiction, we want a passionate voice, compelling narrative, and deeply drawn characters.
Any journal of our size is in competition for the best work with thousands of other print and/or online literary magazines. So it’s helped us to think of Bacopa as a small, nonprofit business with a vision, strategy, and action plan. As with any organization that wants to succeed in its field, we must consider our key focus—Is it economy? Is it service? Is it excellence?
Of course excellent writing is key, within our range of influence. This year we wanted to expand that range of influence, so service is our highest priority, interacting with and congratulating writers and poets by email and the Internet, making sure submitters see within days that their submissions are being reviewed, responding quickly when we know a submission is not quite a fit for this year’s Bacopa, and accepting especially good pieces right away so we don’t lose them to another journal.
Economy is also important in our public image. Bacopa costs WAG several thousand dollars each year and takes many hours a week of the editors’ time, so we considered at least a small ($3) submission fee. But with input from former editors, experienced writer/poet Wendy Thornton, and the support of WAG’s board, we finally agreed that serious writers who submit frequently can’t be expected to pay submission fees. Bacopa will still give First Place ($200) and Runner-Up ($160) prizes in each genre. In addition we’re offering $20 to each person published in 2016. Though a small amount, this is meant to convey our respect for the time writers and poets spend submitting their precious work.
Our literary doors are open to the best poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, and that includes everyone reading this post. Share with us your finest experiments with form, your passionate voices and compelling stories. Surprise us with your ingenuity!