With another year of publishing comes another year of conversation and controversy about the internet's role in it. We questioned (again) if poetry was dead, while not mentioning any living writers. One magazine pulled an Al Gore, claiming to have invented writing on the web in 2003, years after journals featured in this very anthology (Eclectica, Juked, our own Sundress Publications) were releasing issues for e-audiences. Another major journal shut its print doors to slum it in the digital 'verse.
We here at the Best of the Net know that literature (even poetry!) is alive and kicking, both online and off, and has been here on the net since there was a net. In fact, this has been our biggest year ever, with over 200 journals, presses, and individuals submitting work from 2011-2012. This year's issue features work from twenty-one different journals from all over the country, some run by established MFA programs, others with a single editor culling through the slush—and almost all of whom have a budget of zero dollars and zero cents.
In a year that saw the rise of the "99%", we had the pleasure of reading work from our online equivalent. In this era of more democratized publishing, we continued to be awed and surprised by work from writers of all backgrounds and literary stylings. Perhaps this is why we are starting to see such a turn in the ways online publishing is viewed by the outside world. When we began publishing this anthology, internet publications were seen as half a publication by the NEA. The Best American series wowed us all by reprinting exactly one piece that was originally published online. And AWP certainly wasn't selling out all of their tables every year to upstart presses run by individuals rather than prestigious university programs.
This is a golden age of publishing. Sure, once a year, someone bemoans the waning of poetry, but there are more poets and a greater variety of poetry published than ever before. We decry the solipsism of memoir, but the quality of journalistic nonfiction that we received tells a different state of creative nonfiction. We complain about the replacement of short fiction with episodic television while stories scroll across our computer, tablet, and cell phone screens. Yes, there are more journals being produced than one could read in a year—or even a lifetime. But that isn't a defect of online publishing; it's an embarrassment of riches. There's a journal for everyone now, not just the anthologized few deemed worthy by Norton or Oxford. So, venture into the great wilderness of online writing. We hope our little anthology gives you a few places to start.
The Editorial Staff
2012 Best of the Net Anthology