History

Founded by the poet Tom McGrath in Los Angeles in 1960, Crazyhorse continues to be one of the finest, most influential literary journals published today. Past contributors include such renowned authors as John Updike, Raymond Carver, Jorie Graham, John Ashbery, Robert Bly, Ha Jin, W. P. Kinsella, Richard Wilbur, James Wright, Carolyn Forché, Charles Simic, Charles Wright, Billy Collins, Galway Kinnell, James Tate and Franz Wright. Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners alike appear regularly in its pages, right alongside Guggenheim fellows, National Endowment for the Arts fellowship recipients, and writers whose work appears in the O. Henry Prize, Pushcart Prize, and Best American anthologies.

Throughout the 1970s, other editors took the helm of the journal, among them Deb and Edith Wylder, who played a key role in the life of Crazyhorse when they brought it to Murray State University in Ky., and the journal (with its new, single-word name) began to publish fiction and critical essays along with poetry. Jorie Graham and James Galvin became its poetry editors, Joe Ashby Porter its fiction editor, and the journal found itself one of the most respected in the country.

From 1981 to 2001, Crazyhorse was housed at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, continuing its ascent as a journal of the best contemporary work. David Wojahn served as poetry editor until 1986, replaced by Ralph Burns, but returning two years later to edit the journal alongside poetry co-editors Lynda Hull and Dean Young. David Jauss served as fiction editor and Dennis Vannatta as criticism editor.

But in 2001, after Ralph Burns had served as sole editor of the journal for the prior several years, financial strains at the University of Arkansas took their toll, and Burns, through mutual friend David Jauss, contacted Bret Lott at the College of Charleston to ask whether the College might be interested in taking over the journal.

The rest is history. Since coming to the College, Crazyhorse has found new life, both in terms of its content and its design – a life that has continued to grow the reputation of the journal as one of the premier venues in which new writing can appear. Under the combined editorship of CofC’s Creative Writing faculty, work from the journal’s pages has been reprinted in the Best American PoetryBest American Short StoriesBest American Nonrequired Reading and The Pushcart Prize annual anthologies. Each year the journal offers the Crazyhorse Fiction Prize for a single short story and the Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize for a single poem, a competition open to all competition with a prize award of $2,000 for each genre and publication of the works in Crazyhorse. Past fiction prize judges include Joyce Carol Oates, Jaimy Gordon, Ann Patchett, Ha Jin and Charles Baxter. Poetry prize judges have included Carl Phillips, Billy Collins, Marvin Bell and Mary Ruefle.

We look forward to another 50 years of the publication of McGrath’s visionary foray into the world of letters, and hope you’ll join us in encountering the best new writing we can publish.