Narrative Magazine

Cover of the founding issue of Narrative Magazine, Fall 2003.png
Cover of Narrative Magazine, Fall 2003.
EditorCarol Edgarian and Tom Jenks
CategoriesLiterary magazine, electronic literature, fiction, poetry, arts, culture, internet
FounderCarol Edgarian and Tom Jenks
First issueFall 2003
CompanyNarrative Magazine Inc.
CountryUnited States
Based inSan Francisco

History and profileEdit

Narrative, founded in 2003, is dedicated to advancing the literary arts in the digital age and publishes fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and art. The literary platform refreshes weekly with new content ranging across form and theme from both established and emerging writers. Their seasonal contests and educational Narrative in the Schools programming provide further mentorship opportunities for young developing writers worldwide. Narrative Magazine is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit; subscription and access to its content is free for everyone.


Narrative publishes stories, poems, essays, interviews, and art weekly—the work of several hundred authors a year. It also offers seasonal contests and awards along with their educational programming, Narrative in the Schools (more below). Subscription to the platform is free and offers access to the entirety of Narrative’s library, containing thousands of works of fiction, poetry, non-fiction and art.

Narrative was cofounded in 2003 by former fiction editor at Scribner, Esquire, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, Tom Jenks, and New York Times-bestselling author Carol Edgarian.

Narrative celebrates both established and emerging writers, with work by figures such as Chris Abani, Natalie Diaz, Saidiya Hartman, Ann Beattie, Sharon Olds, Jennifer Egan, Tobias Wolff, Jericho Brown, Anthony Marra, Kirstin Valdez Quade, and Ocean Vuong.

All works of contemporary writing accepted by the magazine must be previously unpublished. Writers may submit to Narrative’s Story of the Week and Poem of the Week, General Submissions, and seasonal contests (discussed below). Each category offers payment to writers selected for publication.

Additionally, Narrative coined the iStory—a short, dramatic narrative, fiction or nonfiction, up to 150 words long—and the iPoem—a short poem that will fit within no more than two screens on the iPhone (up to 150 words long). It also publishes features on craft, teaching, and other topics related to a writer's professional life, along with visual pieces like cartoons and photography portfolios.

Narrative’s team of editors include co-founders Carol Edgarian and Tom Jenks, Michael Wiegers of Copper Canyon Press, noted designer John Miller, among other genre specialists and trained editorial staff.

Narrative was the first literary magazine available for the Kindle.

Narrative in the SchoolsEdit

Narrative in the Schools was founded in 2014 to support under-resourced teachers and students by providing literary educational tools and Narrative’s free library of literature. Today, Narrative in the Schools is used in classrooms in more than 28 countries and 48 states in the U.S. The program offers writing video tutorials from New York Times-bestselling author and Narrative cofounder Carol Edgarian and Narrative authors, curated reading lists, and more.

The Narrative High School Writing Contest was established in 2015 to encourage high school students to engage with writing beyond the classroom. Annual winners are awarded monetary prizes and are mentored by the founders and editors of Narrative, along with Narrative author guest judges, and ultimately earn publication in Narrative. Originally an essay contest, the competition has expanded to include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Prizes and RecognitionsEdit

Narrative awards prizes to and recognizes writers at all stages in their writing careers throughout the year.

  • The Narrative Prize is a single $4,000 prize awarded annually for the best short story, novel excerpt, poem, or work of literary nonfiction published by a new or emerging writer, a recognition and monetary prize designed to kickstart a burgeoning writer’s career. You can learn more about the Narrative Prize from Narrative Prize-winners themselves here.
  • The Narrative Prize has been given to the following writers: Min Jin Lee, "Axis of Happiness," 2004 Winner; Pia Z Ehrhardt, "Famous Fathers," 2005 Winner; Ned Parker, "On to Baghdad," 2006 Winner; Mermer Blakeslee, "Leenie," 2006 Winner; Saidiya Hartman, "A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route," 2007 Winner; Alma García, "Letter to El Mateo," 2007 Winner; Michael Dickman, "Returning to Church," 2008 Winner; Alexi Zentner, "Trapline," 2008 Winner; Maud Newton, "When the Flock Changed," 2009 Winner; Anthony Marra, “Chechnya,” 2010 Winner; Kevin A. González, “Christmas Eve,” 2011 Winner; Natalie Diaz, “Downhill Triolets,” 2012 Winner; Nathan Poole “Stretch Out Your Hand,” 2012 Winner; Kirstin Valdez Quade, “Nemecia,” 2013 Winner; Austin Smith, “The Halverson Brothers,” 2014 Winner; Ocean Vuong, “No One Knows the Way to Heaven,” 2015 Winner; Sara Houghteling, “The Thomas Cantor,” 2016 Winner; Javier Zamora, “Sonoran Song and Other Poems,” 2017 Winner; Paisley Rekdal, “Quiver and Other Poems,” 2018 Winner; Brenden Willey, “Things that Don’t Keep a Lightning Bug Alive,” 2019 Winner; Gbenga Adesina, “Across the Sea: A Sequence,” 2020 Winner; Morgan Talty, “The Gambler” and Tryphena L. Yeboah, “If the Body Makes a Sound,” 2021 Winners.
  • The Narrative Storyteller Honoree Award is awarded annually to a writer whose body of work has expanded and illuminated the art and craft of storytelling.
  • The Narrative Spring, Fall, and Winter Fiction and Nonfiction Contests awards prizes totaling $5,000 (per season) to fiction and nonfiction Narrative writers for an outstanding short story, essay, memoir, photo essay, graphic story, form of literary nonfiction, or excerpt from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction.

Narrative’s writers have been awarded the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, Pushcart Prizes, MacArthur “Genius” Grants, and many others. You’ll find a complete list here.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit