When I took on the Editor-in-Chief role at Lunch Ticket, the online literary and art journal of Antioch University Los Angeles’ MFA program, beyond the obvious goals of ensuring we get quality submissions, publishing the next issue on time, and trying not to blow up the website, I also vowed to craft an official mission statement. We’re a journal strongly guided by certain values, but in the push to launch in 2012, and then with the rapid growth that has taken us from a nobody on the literary landscape to being a widely respected publication, formulating an official statement became a lower priority. In honing in on what exactly Lunch Ticket is about, I’ve reflected on the nuts and bolts of what make us unique, and how we’ve gotten to where we are. Unsurprisingly, our uniqueness has influenced our trajectory.
From its inception, Lunch Ticket was to be an ambitious literary journal with a special emphasis on community engagement and the pursuit of social justice. These two concepts are entwined, but somewhat separate. As an MFA-affiliated publication we seek to publish excellent writing on any topic by any writer. But as an Antioch-affiliated journal we also hope to promote the university’s mission of social justice by publishing work that fosters new conversations about the world in which we live, and helps enact change.
Early on, thanks to the three editors who came before me and an inspired advisory team of MFA faculty and staff, Lunch Ticket managed to break through the clutter and get the attention of writers whose work we wanted to showcase. One of the ways we did this was through our funded, no-entry fee contests. We launched The Diana Woods Memorial Award in Creative Nonfiction in our second issue, which helped us quickly garner outstanding CNF submissions by offering a prize of $250 to a winning essay every six months. Several issues later, we added a second contest, The Gabo Prize in Literary Translation and Multi-Lingual Texts. This contest, which offers a $200 prize, reflects the Antioch MFA program’s commitment to literary translation. By supporting the work of translators who bring global literature into English, we strengthen Lunch Ticket’s dedication to community engagement and social justice. Both of these contests are offered with no entry fee and have been an invaluable boon for the journal. We currently review contest submissions each February and August, and hope to add additional no-fee contests in other genres in the near future.
Further, we have been able to build our readership by offering content published in between our twice-yearly full-scale Lunch Ticket issues. Amuse-Bouche is an every-other Monday feature showcasing work by a single writer or artist. We welcome new literary submissions for Amuse-Bouche twice a year, in January and July, across all genres. Our weekly blog, meanwhile, is published every Friday, and offers craft-based essays written by current students in the MFA program. Topics range from how to portray diverse characters, to approaching writer’s block, to creating tension in a narrative. Both Amuse-Bouche and the Friday Lunch Blog are headliners in the subscriber newsletter we send to readers every other week.
Lunch Ticket’s editorial team is scattered across the country (sometimes globe), due to the fact we are a low-residency MFA program, and represents writers of all backgrounds. As a diverse editorial team, we strive to support writers and artists of all colors, religions, races, nationalities, backgrounds, genders, politics, and sexual orientations. The Review Review recently lauded our gender balance. We stand behind our policy of blind submissions, but also know that we could do better at soliciting work from writers outside of our current networks. As I contemplate our trajectory and the mission of our journal, I am brainstorming new ways to reach underrepresented writers. This is, in the end, our primary mission as we solidify our standing alongside top-tier journals: to publish meritorious work by established and emerging writers, that reflects diverse experiences, and moves beyond well-worn grooves.
A NOTE TO WRITERS AND ARTISTS: Lunch Ticket accepts fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, young adult (13+), literary translation, multi-lingual text, and visual art submissions for the main issue twice a year, February 1-April 30 and August 1-October 31. We are currently reviewing submissions for our Winter/Spring 2016 issue. Amuse-Bouche reviews work in January and July. There is no fee to submit.
To read Lunch Ticket, go to www.lunchticket.org.