The historic 'Story' magazine comes to Columbus

Columbus just inherited a nearly 90-year literary legacy in the acquisition of Story magazine. The publication was founded in 1931 by two expatriates in Vienna before relocating to New York City. Legendary authors from J.D. Salinger to Truman Capote graced its pages before it temporarily folded in 1971.

Following two revival periods in the '90s and 2010s, Editor-in-Chief Michael Nye secured the rights, establishing Story as a nonprofit organization and tri-annual magazine. The spring issue is due out in time for the relaunch party at Wild Goose Creative on Friday, March 22.

“It's always been, to me, the standard against which other journals are judged,” said board member Valerie Cumming, who serves on the Westerville City Council and teaches writing at Thurber House. “In publishing, things come and go. But this is a journal with a genuine legacy, which is, I think, pretty rare.”

Cumming is joined on the board of directors by poets Maggie Smith and Ruth Awad, along with English teacher Keith Leonard. A separate advisory board includes acclaimed writer Roxane Gay.

“Columbus has such a rich literary scene,” Awad said. “Because of the university and the MFA program here, we get an influx of incredibly talented writers. … Then we have local writers like Hanif Abdurraqib, who helms a reading series that spotlights writers of color.”

Story magazine features fiction and nonfiction selected through online submissions. For the upcoming issue, readers can expect everything from an essay on the Burning Man festival's regional event in South Africa, to a story about adjusting to misogyny.

“There's a story about a woman who, enraged with her husband, uses his fear of donkeys against him,” Nye said.

Story magazine will also publish at least one Ohio author in each issue. The upcoming edition also features cover art by Columbus painter Christopher Burk.

“The ratio of men to women in the new issue is five to seven,” Nye said. “One of the things we look for is what kind of balance we have, to make sure that the magazine really represents the diversity of the arts.”

That commitment to inclusivity extends to readers. While print copies will be sold for $14, back content will eventually be made available online for free.

“That accounts for different socioeconomic factors,” Awad said. “So that's another consideration that we've made.”

But all attendees of the party at Wild Goose will go home with a copy for a suggested donation of $10.

“What we see in comments from people when they submit their work is, ‘We're so glad it's up and running again. We're so glad that it's back,'” Cumming said. “We're given this incredible gift of generations of writers who already know [of] the high quality … and are excited to see what we're going to do with it.”