The best free literary zines in Brooklyn

I can’t be the only one who hates on n+1 for being so cool, yet so inaccessible (read: costly). Electric Literature debuted a free iPad app, but if you can afford an iPad you probably don’t need our lit mag app to be free. As a publishing ingénue, I’m always on the lookout for quality writing from not yet overexposed writers that I can afford to read on an entry-level salary. Our humble borough offers digital dosages of not only Booker-Prize-worthy fiction, but also journalism, poetry, scholarship, and works that can’t be classified into any genre. If you worry that your cultural relevancy wouldn’t survive a New Yorker subscriptionl, treat yourself to one of these literary magazines, the best of the Brooklyn slush pile. 

Assembly Journal
Stationed in Brooklyn and Toronto and printing whip smart penmanship from everywhere in between, Assembly Journal offers fiction and poetry with an alt-culture feel and, often, a political framework. Drawing on this focus, journalistic essays and articles on topics from Facebook stalking to the Islamic Republic are also featured. The publication just launched in summer 2010.
Find it: in paper form at Word in Greenpoint.

The Brooklyn Rail
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with staff made up purely of volunteers, The Brooklyn Rail is the most established magazine on this list. In circulation for over a decade with a new and jam-packed issue each month, the periodical began as and remains largely a fiction and poetry publication with flawlessly edited pieces and half a million readers. Its longstanding commitment to free art and writing makes Rail’s “Critical Perspectives on Arts, Politics, and Culture” a staple for Brokelyn readers. Publisher Phong Bui also serves as a curatorial advisor at P.S.1, and interviewees have ranged throughout the years from artist Elizabeth Murray to British Parliament member Clare Short to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett, known for his expository books on Rudy Giuliani. Before you check out the crisp content, read Bui’s note to renew your faith in the importance of creation in all forms.

Find it: in paper form at almost any bookstore or library throughout the boroughs

Harp & Altar
Harp & Altar
’s, which sets itself apart with warm and inviting design, is straight literature — poetry, prose and reviews. Among the contributors are MFAs, professors and prolifically published writers, so the quality is impeccable. Submissions for the second of two issues per year are accepted until the end of March, so if you’d fancy your name in print, visit the site for more details. About fifteen authors are selected each spring and fall season.

Staccato Fiction
Ever had a great idea for a novel, but found yourself staring at the monitor once you sat down to write it? More of a forum for self-branded “microfiction” than a magazine, Staccato Fiction capitalizes on great but concise stories that somehow feel like just enough. Fresh content is served up in one-paragraph servings approximately twice a week.


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