By Karim Quesada-Khoury
As an active writer, I often look for new forums from which I can find fresh ideas and topics to explore. One can only produce so much writing from looking inward and conducting musings about their personal life, their state, their dreams. So I often find myself turning to literary magazines. Outside of books, they may be the most potent source of creative stimulation; they host numerous voices, varying so much in style and subject as to give a feeling of a bustling classroom workshop, where each page turned is a new table with another student reading their piece aloud to a small but hungry audience. At least, this is what the best magazines give to me.
Ascent is one such magazine. Do not be put off by the fact that it exists solely online (it recently switched to an internet-only format, after 32 years as a print magazine). So much creative writing on the web seems to have been produced by well-intentioned would-be writers, who know only the most basic and clichéd styles of poetry or storytelling and who cannot for the life of them work a spell-check program. Two minutes on such sites would turn even the most easygoing reader into a grumpy stickler, who slaps his forehead in light of such horrendous displays of clumsy grammar and botched vocabulary. Like a breath of fresh morning air, the writings published by this magazine—mainly fiction, poetry, and essays—are polished and thoughtful. Though the stories certainly are as different and varied as in any quality magazine offering, a common thread among them is the clarity of vision and nuanced imagery of a novel. The poems are diverse enough so that if one seems too abstract or free-form for your taste, the next one will surely strike a different chord. The essays are the least predictable, the quality of the writing being much more erratic than the rest of the site. Yet even there they can pique your interest, reading like memories which blur at the edges but remain clear in all the important places.
Ascent is not the Holy Grail of online journals. It isn’t revolutionizing the format, nor touting itself as the future of creative writing. Yet the standard of quality is high enough to warrant your attention. If you are at all interested in writing as an art-form, it is absolutely worth your time and effort to sift through the many stories and poems and assorted pieces. Inspiration, insight, and entertainment can all be found in its archives, as well as a chance to be published on its site. Submission to Ascent is an easy process, involving a single page fill-out of information. To any City College student who is attempting to be a poet or writer (and of course to any random person out there who writes, beginner or professional-grade), this is an excellent forum to seek out.
Ascent magazine, (http://readthebestwriting.com/ )