Sonora Review was founded in 1980, run by students in the Creative Writing department at the University of Arizona. It is one of the oldest student-run literary journals in America. It accepts fiction, poetry and nonfiction from September through May, only previously unpublished work by emerging or well-known authors. Each year, varying contests are held for poetry, fiction and nonfiction, the winner receiving a 1,000 dollar cash prize and publication in the following issue of the magazine. The staff changes with every two issues, so each year there is a different aesthetic and a different overall feel to the magazine as a whole. The current head editors are Mike Coakley and Laura Miller. FUSE interviews one of the Sonora Review head editors, Mike Coakley.
In constructing the next issue of Sonora Review, what exactly are you looking for in a submission? What does it take to make it into your literary magazine?
We’ve got all sorts of pieces in our most recent issue. There’s a less-than-one-page story by Rikki Ducornet (“a small address,” she calls it) alongside an expansive twenty-four page piece by Matthew Baker. We’ve got a delightfully strange essay in which Eric LeMay assembles a baby out of spare parts, along with a fairly traditional, wonderful specimen of literary journalism by Irina Zhorov. So I’m afraid I have to give the common answer here: We’re not sure what we’re going to like until we see it. And the “we,” in this case, is constantly changing. Because the graduate program at the University of Arizona lasts for only two years, the editorial board today is completely different from the editorial board of issue 59 or 60 or 61. It’s an ever-revolving door. In other words, a piece rejected by the current staff might be accepted unanimou