This Bay Area Magazine Just Won a Major Literary Award
The team behind Bay Area publication Zyzzyva woke up to good news on Thursday, July 14, as their longtime labor of love was announced as one of five winners of the 2022 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize. A Bay Area staple for more than 35 years, the proudly independent periodical – so named for being the last word listed in the Oxford Dictionary – is overseen by Managing Editor Laura Cogan and Managing Editor Oscar Villalon.
Villalon was thrilled to learn of the Whitney Foundation’s decision.
“This recognition is extremely encouraging,” he said. “It makes it clear to the people we have published, and to everyone who reads us, that Zyzzyva is indeed something special. And it reminds our fellow San Franciscans that great cultural things keep coming out of here.
Founded in 1985, the literary magazine was originally conceived as a West Coast response to an East Coast-centric publishing world. Featuring voices that are both diverse and brilliant – yet always local – Zyzzyva has grown into a nationally distributed literary journal that welcomes contributors near and far. In addition to publishing three print issues per year, the publication also remains very active in the Bay Area community in the form of readings, panels, workshops and more.
Literary magazine Zyzzyva retreats and advances
In recognizing Zyzzyva, the Whiting Foundation judges’ citation highlights the journal’s dedication to its roots, its willingness to reinvent itself, and the beauty of its print form.
“ZYZZYVA has for years shepherded a vast community of West Coast writers,” the quote begins. “Masterfully edited and strongly cerebral, this place-based journal dazzles readers with formal innovation and an appetite for adventure, delving deep into its regionality while bringing the world into its pages.”
The judges also praised the aesthetic of Zyzzyva’s print publication, which uses the work of a single artist in each issue as a way to guide the overall design of that specific edition.
“As a printed object,” the quote continues, “it has an exquisite presence and dignity, with gorgeous color prints in the center of each issue.”
The 2022 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize comes with a $20,000 grant. Cogan said the arrival of this honor couldn’t come at a better time for Zyzzyva’s Coffers.
“In all honesty, the current challenges of the pandemic have really drained our resources, so the timing of this new support is just fantastic,” she said. “This is not only an honor and a major recognition of the quality of the journal, it is also a source of support for which we are very grateful.”
Cogan noted that Zyzzyva plans to take the opportunity to make several organizational updates and improvements in hopes of helping ensure the journal’s long-term stability. Beyond the initial grant, the Whiting Prize also includes the magazine’s opportunity to receive additional matching grants of the same amount for each of the following two years.
While an official celebration is still in the works, Villalon and Cogan plan to welcome those who wish to revel with them at Booksmith on July 27 for the release of issue #123.
Zyzzyva Issue No. 123 Release Party: 7 p.m. July 27. Free, RSVP encouraged. The Bookseller, 1727 Haight St., SF 415-863-8688. booksmith.com