Carve cover Spring_2016Carve is a quarterly short fiction magazine, based in Dallas, Texas. Carve is interested in publishing and promoting outstanding literature and aims to help new, emerging and established writers reach a wider audience.

This month, AWM spoke to Anna Zumbahlen, Managing Editor, and Matthew Limpede, Executive Editor, about Carve’s beginnings, its content, and storytelling. AWM was particularly interested to learn about Carve’s annual competition, the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. Carve publishes much of its content online as well as in print and for e-readers. For more about Carve, including submission guidelines, visit the website.

Carve was launched in 2000 and is named in honour of famed short story writer Raymond Carver. Could you tell us how Carve came about?

Carve was founded by Melvin Sterne, with the aid of a grant from the Mary Gates Foundation, and he served as editor-in-chief from 2000-2006. He was interested in giving more authors exposure via the internet, publishing 12 stories every other month — a feat that would’ve been extremely cost-prohibitive for any new print journal of the time. We honor Melvin’s keen insight into the powerful role of technology by promising that readers will never have to pay to read the short stories online. That was part of his mission and reason for founding Carve: make it easier to get published, receive feedback, and discover honest fiction.

On the submissions page of your website you say you want ‘emotional jeopardy, soul, and honesty’ from short stories. These elements are certainly evident in some of the stories that AWM read recently, including ‘All That We Burned, All That We Loved’ by Laura Haugen (published in the Fall 2015 issue) and ‘A Soldier’s Final Draft’ by Dan Corfield (published in the recent Spring 2016 issue). What additional advice can you offer to writers who are considering submitting short stories to Carve?

We’re really interested in emotional change, and we seek out stories that access truth and catharsis through lucid writing. We publish fiction that uses its form to get at the soul of a story. If it feels like the craft or perspective or narrative structure isn’t serving the emotional space a story occupies, then it probably isn’t right for us. We don’t limit ourselves to the minimalist style for which Raymond Carver is known, but we do appreciate economy of language.

Carve’s Premium Edition, a print magazine, offers a range of content including poetry, author interviews, rejected stories, and poefictiontry. Could you explain to us how this apparent hybrid of poetry and fiction works?

We acknowledge that through intentional language and attention to detail, poetry is poised to tell truths in a way that is distinct from fiction. We have a new poetry editor, Ellie Francis Douglass, and we are transitioning away from keeping fiction at the center of our consideration of poetry, though we still value poetry with narrative qualities. Most of all, we appreciate poetry that conveys authentic emotion through intentional language and striking image.

The Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, which Carve hosts annually, has just closed for this year. In 2015, the contest attracted approximately 1,000 submissions worldwide. Could you tell us a little about the contest and what makes for a prize-winning entry?

The Raymond Carver Contest always features a guest judge, who selects the first-, second-, and third-place prizewinners. True to our mission, the contest winners are honest and cleanly constructed. We’re looking for fresh explorations of emotional truths, new ways to navigate being human, and masterful storytelling.

Carve has been publishing online since 2000 and has generously made every short story published since 2007 available for free on the website. Carve also publishes for e-readers and began publishing a print magazine in 2012. Given the growth in digital publishing and Carve’s use of multiple publication media, what do you see as the most important considerations for today’s editors of literary journals and magazines?

No matter how technology changes the way readers consume or experience content, we believe the most important consideration for editors will always be to honor the authors they publish. Treat them with respect, develop a real relationship (even if it’s only through email), and do all you can to promote them and encourage them even after their piece has come and gone in the journal. Writers are the lifeblood of literary magazines; without them, we wouldn’t exist.


Zoe Biddlestone is currently studying a Master of Arts in Writing, Editing and Publishing at The University of Queensland. She also has Bachelor degrees in Arts and Law. Zoe works full-time and enjoys freelance editing and proofreading after hours. She loves reading travel writing, the classics and translated fiction.

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