Reed Magazine is California’s oldest literary journal. Tracing its heritage to 1867, the journal started as a mere pamphlet published by students of the California State Normal School, the precursor of San José State University. In more than a century and a half of publication, the journal’s name evolved until the end of World War II. Then in 1948, we adopted The Reed, which was later shortened to just Reed, the title we have proudly held ever since.
Our name honors James Reed, a survivor of the infamous Donner Party and a prominent citizen of early California. James Reed made a fortune during the Gold Rush and strongly advocated that San José be named the capital of the new state. While he failed in that ambition, he did keep his promise to donate five hundred acres to the state. The current campus of San José State—the oldest public institution of higher education on the West Coast, and the founding institution of the California State University system—now occupies that land.
San José has changed a lot since James Reed first settled here. Prune and apricot orchards have given way to skyscrapers and the headquarters of major corporations. A tiny farming community has grown into the tenth largest US city and the nation’s unchallenged center of technological innovation. A small teaching college has evolved into a vibrant university with the most diverse student body in the nation, and an international reputation for excellence.
Throughout these changes, Reed has remained a literary hub, publishing fiction, poetry, essays, profiles, and art from around the world. Reed is honored to feature the works of emerging authors alongside notable pieces by literary lions: nonfiction by Pulitzer Prize–winner William Finnegan, verse by U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, fiction by PEN/Faulkner--winner T. C. Boyle, and National Book Award--winner Ursula K. Le Guin. In addition, we publish original profiles of authors connected to the Golden State, examining their take on life and art.
For over 150 years, Reed Magazine has published the work of artists whose narrative voices persist beyond the page, whose imagery lingers in our minds, and whose language challenges us to think, to do, to be part of the creative legacy of our time.
No matter your medium, the staff at Reed Magazine wants to hear your stories.
SUBMIT your poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or visual art, and let your voice be heard.
“The human being is only a reed, the most feeble in nature; but this is a thinking reed. It isn’t necessary for the entire universe to arm itself in order to crush him; a whiff of vapor, a taste of water, suffices to kill him. But when the universe crushes him, the human being becomes still more noble than that which kills him, because he knows that he is dying, and the advantage that the universe has over him. The universe, it does not have a clue.
All our dignity consists, then, in thought. This is the basis on which we must raise ourselves, and not space and time, which we would not know how to fill. Let us make it our task, then, to think well: here is the principle of morality.”