ZYZZYVA was founded in 1985 in San Francisco with the goal of publishing a superb literary journal shining a spotlight on West Coast poets, writers, and artists from a wide range of backgrounds, many of whom were otherwise overlooked by established publications, and providing them with a much needed platform.

Since then, the journal has evolved into a nationally distributed, widely acclaimed publication showcasing contributors from across the country and around the world. In 2020, the journal marked 35 years of continuous publishing, celebrating more than three decades of enriching contemporary literature and supporting literary communities in the Bay Area and beyond.

Editorial Mission

Reflecting the values that made San Francisco a cultural beacon, ZYZZYVA is defined by its risk-taking and egalitarianism, and by its focus on inclusivity and excellence.

ZYZZYVA seeks out a meaningful consideration of the most urgent ethical issues of our time, in part via themed issues on topics ranging from ideas about resistance, the border, art, and the environment to views on labor and the ongoing violence in Mexico (as addressed by Mexican writers and journalists). We create substantial space for poetry, nonfiction, interviews, and fiction that consider these various concerns, resulting in a lively, thoughtful conversation in print and online (and in person through our events), across genres and generations, answering the need for a unique kind of engagement we believe ZYZZYVA offers.

Publishing History & Recognition

Our publishing history is as illustrious as it is groundbreaking, defined by discovering talent (featured prominently in our unique First Time in Print section), nurturing emerging writers, and supporting established authors.

Our acclaimed contributors include:

Peter Orner, Kay Ryan, Kaveh Akbar, Tommy Orange, Krys Lee, Luis Alberto Urrea, Amy Tan, Susan Steinberg, Lucia Berlin, Hector Tobar, Matthew Dickman, Rebecca Solnit, Paul Madonna, Adam Johnson, D.A. Powell, T.J. Stiles, Karen Joy Fowler, Major Jackson, Gary Soto, Kathleen Alcott, Daniel Handler, Adrienne Rich, Robert Hass, Czseslaw Milosz, Wanda Coleman, Rivka Galchen, Dani Shapiro, Tom Barbash, Anthony Marra, Dagoberto Gilb, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Matthew Zapruder, Elizabeth Tallent, Glen David Gold, Ursula K. LeGuin, Suzanne Rivecca, Dean Rader, W.S. di Piero, Troy Jollimore, Deb Olin Unferth (For a complete list of published authors, please see our Index.)

The writers and poets we’ve championed in the early stages of their careers include:

Chia-Chia Lin, Jim Gavin, Jane Hirshfield, Haruki Murakami, Ruth Madievsky, Vanessa Hua, Sherman Alexie, April Ayers Lawson, F.X. Toole, Jill Soloway, Tupelo Hassman, Emily Fridlund, Olivia Clare, Jennifer duBois, Austin Smith, Octavio Solis

Work published in ZYZZYVA is frequently included in or otherwise acknowledged by the Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, and Best American Non-required Reading anthologies, as well as by the Pushcart Prize and O. Henry Prize. In 2019 we received the Council of Literary Magazine and Press’s Firecracker Award for Best Magazine: General Excellence.

ZYZZYVA hosts or participates in more than two dozen readings, panels, book festivals, and other literary events each year, and publishes dozens of book reviews and author interviews on our website annually. We also offer writing workshops in our offices, visit college and graduate classes, and donate back issues to schools.

As we celebrate more than 35 years in publishing, we hope you join us by supporting our decades-long commitment to writers, poets, artists, and readers. Your donations and subscriptions make every issue, and every year of service, possible.