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Top Ten Journals to Submit Flash Fiction for Wigleaf’s Top 50 List

March 6, 2015

If you write and read flash fiction, chances are you wait with bated breath for Wigleaf‘s Top 50 List. A prestigious home itself for flash, Wigleaf has been putting together their precious list of the year’s best flash for some time now. Going back over the last three years of their “long” lists yields the very best journals for flash fiction.

What are they?

Hold your horses. 6a00cdf7e93fbd094f00fa9681275c00031

Jockeys who ride short-legged jumpers have special crops reserved for veering their steeds directly into Wigleaf‘s stables.

And so, without too much more hoof-clomping and snorting…herewith, the hay:

[ Note: numbers in parenthesis indicate the journal’s appearances on Wigleaf long lists of 2012, 2013, and 2014; all acceptance rates from Duotrope to be taken loosely as estimates. ]


1. (16) Journal of Compressed Creative Arts Matter Press (0% out of 115 acceptance rate) Compression is not just a style but a philosophy to editor and flash guru Randall Brown,

Some creation needs significant compression…Very tiny work matters. We want to think about why. We want to think through compression.

Given the strong lead, there are many, many fine flashes to choose from. However, I’ll narrow my selection to a few that look up for a ride today through the snow, a bracing look to the eye, a spring in the gait: Sybil Baker’s “What We Learn From Their Bones,” Barry Basden’s “Instructions,” Joe Kapitan’s “Sunday Drive” and Sheena Sauls’ “We Two Alone Will Sing.


2. (15) Pank (1.7% out of 520 acceptance rate) When so many champions canter into the same barn, you get to know the taste of their dust: Joel Smith’s “Hermitage,” Michelle Bailat-Jones’s “Mining,” J.J. Lynne’s “Four Collages,” and  Chloe Benjamin’s “In Which We Pay Tribute To Swallowtails.” That’s just some of the dust. For the mud, the new stuff, the good stuff, prepare yourself for what Roxanne Gay has left for you to find in the barn. Sure Nonnie Augustine’s “My Early Thirties” is elegant and lithe, but it has weight enough to crush every fragile readerly bone if you sidle up too close–Oh, and did they tell you at the front about never approaching from the right side?

index3. (13) SmokeLong Quarterly (2% acceptance rate) One cannot tire of watching the SmokeLong Races–for the sheer quality, the breathless enormity of the rush. Chief Stable Master, Tara Laskowski, knows her noble craft and the proof is in the showings: Picking only a few that have unequivocally made me smile upon reading and re-reading–“This Is What I Know about Being Giganticby Justin Brouckaert and “Exterminator” by Sean Mackey.

4. (9) Spork (7% acceptance rate) Joel Smith (mentioned as an author a few items above) grooms most of the wild ones that come in as flash over there. They invite riders to come join them as they destroy craft on slow trail rides of offness and oddity. For instance, Patty Yumi Cottrell’s “With How it Is” or “On the Question of Viola” have deliciously crooked noses: “Thomas brushes his teeth while Viola sits at home, knitting houseflies patiently into a smooth white cloth.”  Sacha Siskonen’s “Portraiture in the Twenty-First Century” is never above the bit or barn sour with such yearlings as:

A perfect plaster cast of the artist’s left forearm, life line, heart line, fate line, etched into the palm, fingernails polished, blue veins snaking across the wrist, freckles dotting the fingers, wisps of light hair on the back of the arm. This was the part of herself she knew most. Perhaps the only part of herself she could see.


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5. (9) The Collagist (.28% out of 355 acceptance rate) Notice the fractional rate of acceptance and you’ll have some idea of just how many hands high Gabriel Blackwell and other editors keep this one standing at, proud and tall all the way down to its Clydesdale points. A pushcart favorite and reliably on everybody’s ‘best of’ lists, The Collagist is the Kentucky Derby of flash. Recent winners who paid off dividends at the track include Joshua R. Helms’s “Michael And His Brother” (a structural gem, itself short as any flash, but made up of even smaller, stand-alone kernels of prose exploding with perspective, tension, and character) and Jen Michalski’s magisterial “The Meteor

It pulsed, a white and orange marbled planet, stoic, propelling waves of heat through the neighborhood, wilting the tulips next door, melting the tires of a Toyota Prius.

Few flash pieces I’ve read of late are as transformative or rich in detail, evoking a whole world and many years of credible living while still working squarely within the conventions of allegory.

6. (9) Fiction Southeast (13% acceptance rate) Chris Tusa dedicates the stables to flash over there, where you’ll find experts on all breeds, knowledgeable about coats and feed, shoes and manners, many of them waxing poetic for riders old and new. And for the thing itself, there’s much to enjoy. Pet a few manes for yourself and see. They’ve got stand-bys like Aimee Bender, Randall Brown, and Pamela Painter, as well as striking newer voices like the one I hear in Melissa Burton’s exquisite “How to Restring A Guitar.”

He eyed me and thanked me for not being fat. At first I felt offended, then relieved.

Absurd and funny, profound and familiar right from the horse’s mouth.


7. (8) Hobart (7% acceptance rate) In addition to having a famous print version, the hardy online presence of Hobart makes the list by reigning in such bronco ponies as Matthew Baker’s “Account of my Travels, XXVII,” John Jodzio’s unforgettable “It’s Pity Sex for the Both of Us,” and Lisa Nikolidakis’s “Game Day.” Jensen Beach and the web crew are still rounding the turns in stride with Courtney Sender’s “What to do with the pain in your chest

Tear your house apart searching, strew matches and twist-ties across the kitchen floor, lift the drawers off their hinges, dump them upside down, sift through the mess, find nothing.  Run the tap.  Sprinkle salt in your water glass.  Rinse out your mouth.  Spit.  In your crispest voice, call out, Hello?

That piece is so angelic, my angina was gone by the time I slipped off the bridle and gave it a palm full of radishes.



8. (7) decomP (3.7% acceptance rate) Jason Jordan likes the jumps and shoots the gaps whenever they crisp the hedgeline. You can count on this one to always have a nose near the finish line, keeping apace with the flashiest of flash. Nothing is more hands high for me than “Something Overheard” by Yennie Cheung:

you realize that you know this sound—that you’ve seen this pain. It is your father sprawled over your mother’s casket. It is your roommate, watching a tsunami destroy her homeland. It is you, watching that gold band slide across the coffee table as the love of your life said, “I can’t do this. Not anymore.”

9. (7) New World Writing (4% acceptance rate) is a sleek racehorse, top of the line, high winner with stakes in the race and a veteran jockey in Frederick Barthelme in the saddle. Fortunato Salazar’s flashes about mythical monsters meeting in the latest issue was as wondrous to behold as Little Joe’s dappled horse from Bonanza–the American Cream with blue points.


10. (6) Literary Orphans  (17% acceptance rate) This raucous online gallery of writing keeps the spontaneity of zine culture alive, refining it with quality flash as consistent as it is unmistakable here.  Leanne Gregg, Senior Fiction Editor, describes the outfit in the following way:

The writing on Literary Orphans is an exorcism of the mind of its contributors, and reading the work here is putting up your fists and getting confrontational with solitude–solitude in a world where neon signs are out and LCD billboards are in, a world where you can’t think for following because everyone is doing all the thinking for you.

They belong on this list for having a record number of nominations on last year’s list with pieces like Tantra Bensko’s “Late Rabbits” and Molly Dektar’s “Creep”–and many others–but I would like to close by tipping my helmet to recent good flash on view by Ashlie Allen. The one about starving dogs and her smoking family jumps the gate with particular equipoise.


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  1. Michael, thank you soooo much for including SmokeLong on your list! And about Tara? She is fabulous!

    • I love them. Seriously. Not even joking–I drink my morning coffee from a SmokeLong mug. But, in this particular instance, they are on the list simply because they have so many worthy pieces recognized by Wigleaf (and because they are so essentially and trans-historically awesome!!!).

  2. Thank you for yet another excellent list.

    • Thank you. I have to admit, though, it was truly a pleasure to encounter, and in many cases re-read, so many amazing works.

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