What we love
One of the most profound ways in which humans have always sought hope, healed, and tried to make sense of the world is through the creation and experience of art in its various forms. Oyster River Pages was conceived at the dawn of what is already becoming one of the darkest chapters in postmodern American history. In dealing with this surreal landscape, many of us find ourselves exhausted into a kind of aphasia. But like every generation that has faced the challenge of living in an often baffling world, we find ourselves turning to lyric and narrative, metaphor and image in order to reclaim the ineffable beauty and indestructible compassion of humanity. And especially in this political moment, we at ORP recognize the power of artistic expression to stand up to the possessive investment in privilege and to disrupt the cycles of hegemonic oppression.
ORP is interested in publishing voices that speak to what it means to be alive in this world. We look for language and stories and images that move us out of ourselves and into other spaces. We are a literary journal and we embrace the reality that the personal has become the political. This means that even though we are not seeking purely political submissions, we do actively seek to publish those who bring balance and diversity to historical institutions of power. We are committed to disseminating the voices of those who need to and must be heard—decentered and marginalized voices—whose words and images transcend ignorance and prejudice to reveal the nuanced, resilient, connective power of humanity.
At ORP, art that is provocative and evocative has a champion, a fan club, a posse of groupies.
Our editors value both independence and collaboration. Submissions are culled first by the appropriate section editor, then deliberated upon by the full team.
In fiction, we want an emotional experience. Understated hilarity, breathtaking heartbreak, nostalgia that hits like a concussion. Dispassionate, distant narrators leave us cold, but we're not looking for melodramatic histrionics. We want to be surprised by how a story makes us feel, and the key to surprise is originality. Literary heroes include James Baldwin, Kate Chopin, Jamie O’Neill, Marilynne Robinson, Christopher Isherwood, Jhumpa Lahiri, E.M. Forster, and Hanya Yanagihara.
We love creative non-fiction that strikes a fine balance between those terms. This is to say that we are looking for prose that is lyrical in language and thoughtful in content, arresting the heart and the mind in honest, provocative ways. We want to read writing that speaks to our souls and moves us to think, to do, to be. We are drawn to writing that does something interesting with form as well, although this is not a requirement for literature that resonates. Writers whose creative non-fiction dazzles us include Maxine Hong Kingston, Maggie Nelson, Lidia Yuknavitch, Dorothy Allison, Claudia Rankine, James McBride, Ta-Nehisi Coates, to name a few.
Poetry eludes definition, and we embrace those who inhabit the liminal space at the borders of this expansive medium. We are looking for poetry that elicits emotion rather than focusing on form. To us, the common centrality of poetry, and that which made it so dangerous to Plato he wrote that it should be banished from the ideal society, is its ability to ignite and inspire people to action. We value poems that are laconic and seek to say much with so little. Poetic heroes include e. e. cummings, Mary Oliver, and Osip Mandelstam.
We love the interplay of words and images in the visual world. We are purists, preferring the manipulation of the equipment in the moment to capture emotion and experience, rather than editing photographs afterward. Some of the most compelling visual arts utilize items that have been repurposed or recycled in spaces and ways that bend the ordinary narrative and extend their lives. We admire the work of Bunch Washington, Justyna Mielnikiewicz, Ashima Narain and Ai Weiwei.