Reed Magazine Earns Second Pushcart Prize in Two Years
Reed Magazine, San José State University’s 155-year-old literary publication, has earned its second Pushcart Prize in two years for an essay published in its 154th issue — “Wishbone” by Joseph Sigurdson. The winning story, which chronicles the journey of a man and his dog in rural Alaska, was selected by a team of San José State undergraduates enrolled in English 133, a course that offers hands-on editorial, marketing and publication experience through the creation of the magazine.
“The professionalism of the journal, including its visual appearance, has grown so much over the last five years,” said Shannon Miller, dean of the College of Humanities and the Arts. “That includes well-trained staff members who can recognize the quality of a growing number of submissions — two of which were so outstanding they won the highly-coveted Pushcart Prize!”
The Pushcart Prize is an American literary prize that recognizes the best poetry, short fiction and essays published by small presses and magazines in the previous year. In 2021, Reed Magazine earned its first Pushcart for “Father’s Belt,” a poem by Kurt Luchs included in Issue 153. This year’s award builds upon the editorial staff’s focus on rebranding the oldest university literary magazine in California.
Managing editor Ryan Smith, ’23 MFA Creative Writing, said that Issue 154 received nearly 2,100 submissions, from which they selected 89.
“Our editors seem to have tapped into the pulse of what readers, writers and other publishers are wanting to spend their time with,” he said. “Our nomination of written works in recent years has come from a collaborative effort of outgoing and incoming leads who know our editions forwards and backwards. Without their sharp eyes and sensibilities, we don’t stand a chance at receiving these highest honors.”
Sigurdson’s story will be reprinted in “Pushcart Prize XLVII: Best of the Small Presses 2023 Edition.” He is the author of the novel “Buffalo Dope” and the poetry collection “No Sand,” both from Thirtywest Publishing. His work has appeared in Jelly Bucket, Allegheny Review, Grandy Dancer, Great Lake Review and elsewhere. Sigurdson’s poem “Letter 2” also won Reed Magazine’s Edwin Markham Prize in 2021.
“There are so many literary journals, but Reed, by far, is the most important to me,” said Sigurdson. “They have really believed in me and treated me so well. I’m so fortunate for them.”
“Receiving such a prestigious award for a second year in a row reflects what a high caliber group of editors Reed Magazine recruits each year,” said Alan Soldofsky, director of the SJSU Creative Writing program and professor of English and comparative literature. “It also reflects highly on the work of the present Reed Magazine editor-in-chief and supervising instructor, Helen Meservey, as well the high standards set for the journal by recent previous faculty editors, Professor Keenan Norris and Professor Emerita Cathy Miller.
“But the honor really belongs to the Reed student editorial staff, especially to managing editor Ryan Smith, and the graduate students who served as Reed 154’s poetry, fiction, nonfiction and art editors. They deserve congratulations and kudos for their great work.”
The magazine will be celebrating the official launch of Issue 154 on September 29 at SJSU’s Hammer Theatre. The in-person event, co-hosted with the university’s Center for the Literary Arts, will feature readings by contest winners as well as a special guest.