Editor's Note: We're no longer extant, but we still care a lot about good literature, and feel this remains a great description of why The King's English existed and what it was for, even if we won't be publishing any more new work.

Stanley Elkin once said that when he was writing his novel George Mills (winner of the National Book Award), he had the clear impression that he owned the language. Possession is nine-tenths of the law, and Elkin was gifted enough that few writers would have disputed his claim.

But that's the great thing about language, and the English language in particular: it's an inexhaustible resource, and yet no one has exclusive rights to it. Authors of all stations continue to mine it for the ore that makes great literature, and the rich veins show no sign of thinning out. So it's a good thing that we've given up on the idea that anyone, even a sovereign, can own the language.

And yet there is still an aristocracy of literature, a landed gentry taming the language's borderless estates, shaping them, and -- to borrow from Twain -- sivilizing them. The King's English serves, we hope, as their Burke's Peerage, as the social pages of their hometown rag. Only, in place of the newspaper editor's time-honored credo, If it bleeds, it leads, ours will be, If it reads well, it leads ....

You were maybe expecting a manifesto instead of a series of metaphors? A scholarly disquisition on the Sorry State of Literature and how The King's English is going to rehabilitate its ass? We'll give it to you straight: we publish novellae, short stories, essays, book reviews, and (what the hell) poetry. We specialize in unpopular lengths because print journals can't afford to publish long pieces, and there's a lot of vital, eye-popping writing out there being overlooked only because it takes more than 10 minutes to read but it can't be sold as a book. And we publish shorter forms because the brutal fact is that much of the best writing is overlooked every day of the year, regardless of length. Sadly, Stanley Elkin is no longer around to sublet us the language, but there are plenty of others here who've borrowed it: welcome to The King's English. Pull up a chair. 

-Benjamin Chambers




Benjamin Chambers was founder and editor of The King's English. Educated at the University of Chicago, he earned his MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied with Stanley Elkin, Deborah Eisenberg, and Gerald Early. A former fiction editor at The Chicago Review, his fiction, poetry, and essays have been published in numerous journals and online, including The Iowa Review, ZYZZYVA, MANOA, and the Mississipi Review. Emdashes published his column about fiction from The New Yorker; click here for Benjamin's old blog.

Mark W. Fry was poetry editor for The King's English and is a practicing poet. His poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Black Warrior Review, ZYZZYVA, The MacGuffin and soon in the new Poetry Northwest. He drinks Chinese green tea in Yixing pots for clarity, and dark bean coffee to muddy the waters again. He believes a good poetry editor possesses lyric sensibilities and a hard heart for bullshit. "Poetry is a tincture, an agony of reduction and rarefaction," says Fry. "Do not communicate with me; stay tortured ... and get it right."


Don Stahl circled the margins of literature for decades. After perhaps too many classes and workshops he fell out of fiction, and only found his way back through the strange doors of the Internet. We are all writers now. Don believes that a new literature is evolving, one which will continue to open the frontier crossings separating the author, his work, and the reader. Maybe. But whatever you do, don't stop writing.


Contributing Bill Bukovsan lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has a degree in mathematics, of all things, from Princeton University. He was recently honored by the governor of Minnesota for his contributions to the state's cultural life; his co-honoree was a man who invented a pig-herding robot.

J. Todd Gillette, a graduate of the University of Wyoming, has had his art shown at the National Gallery in Washington, D. C., was co-founder and CEO of a southwestern Michigan bank, and was the first of two winners of the Blodgett Waxwing Prize in Literary Fiction. His fiction has been published in The King's English and elsewhere.



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