The Fine Print
By Margaret Tate
"Hmmm... 14 volumes... three issues per volume. ..." It's a good thing Megan Sexton (M.F.A. '93; Ph.D. '98) works with words instead of numbers, struggling as she is to calculate how many Five Points literary magazines she's put to bed over the years.
The answer is 42. Sexton has been with Georgia State's journal of literature and art since its genesis in 1996, working her way up from a doctoral student on the start-up team to co-editor (with GSU English professor and founding co-editor David Bottoms).
Now heading into its 15th volume, Five Points has been named among the nation's Top 10 Literary Magazines by Every Writer's Source, an honor that puts the publication in some well-established company.
"When you look at some magazines like Georgia Review, which is over 50 years old, and Kenyon Review, which is over 80, we're still a baby," Sexton says, "but we're ranked among them, which is nice."
Sexton, who also teaches in GSU's creative writing program, is quick to credit Five Points' editorial staff - comprising graduate students and faculty colleagues - for their time and talents in helping her pull each issue together. Like most literary magazines, Five Points solicits poems, stories and essays from established writers, but the real chore is culling through the thousands of unsolicited manuscripts they receive every year.
"We have this great mission that we're helping to promote emerging writers, and it all starts with that front line, with that pool of unsolicited manuscripts our grad students are reading," Sexton explains.
For the few works that break through, Sexton reads them next, and then shares them with faculty colleagues who serve as associate editors. "Usually, if something has announced itself to the point where it's going on to a second read, there's a very good chance that it's going to wind up published," she says.
Over the years, Five Points has uncovered numerous "voices" that have gone on to wide acclaim and commercial success, Sexton says. And the journal is consistently mined by national "best of" anthologies. "It's almost to the point where it's just sort of par for the course that the people we are publishing are the people worth watching," she is proud to say. "I think we have very good taste."
Sexton herself is an award-winning, published writer, starting from when she was a GSU student taking home the Agnes Scott College Writer's Award for poetry. She currently has single works out in magazines and anthologies and is juggling several projects-in-progress including a novel, a children's book and pursuing a book deal for her poetry.
Sometimes, she admits, the writing life takes a back seat to real life. "I have a 9-year-old daughter, and I'm co-leader of her Girl Scout troop and very involved with her activities," she says. On top of that, she and her husband have a band, The Skylarks (she plays drums), that practices regularly and plays out on occasion.
And then there's reading, of course. "It's like that David Mamet play, ‘Glengarry Glen Ross,' where they say ‘Always be closing,'" Sexton says. "For the literary editor, it's always be reading."