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“Turning words into art is unnatural. It begins with a contrary attitude. It says, I am unhappy with the way things are and desire to make things different. Rather than represent the world, I will make something wildly and savagely new. I will defy logic. I will invest in new perceptions. I will combine and recombine and fabricate and juggle until something that I have never experienced is experienced. The process is alchemical. The process is violent. It goes to the heart of creativity. It disrupts and shatters. It is splendid with provocation. It is an aggression against banality. It is sharp and loud like a janitor scraping frost from a window. The hectic bounce of steam on a street after a truck roars by. The anarchy of waters, the comedy of the face, dangerous feelings vented from a cage of skin.” ~ John Olson

Contrary Magazine
ISSN 1549-7038

Contrary® was founded in 2003 at the University of Chicago by students and alumni of Chicago’s Master of Arts Program in the Humanities. It was quickly embraced and has been abundantly nourished by graduates of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing program. It now operates independently and without a thought of profit on the South Side of Chicago and publishes writers from throughout the world.

Jeff McMahon

Poetry Editor
Shaindel Beers

Fiction Editor
Frances Badgett

Design Consultant
Andrew von Engel

Editores Emeriti
Alm, Blog Anchor
Shevi Berlinger, Associate Editor
Laura M. Browning, Associate Editor
Helday de la Cruz, Assistant Poetry Editor
Dana Dunham, Associate Editor
S.W. Flores, Assistant Fiction Editor

Cynthia Newberry Martin, Associate Editor, Review Editor
Patrick Sheehan, Associate Editor

Award-Winning Content in Contrary

2023 Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions: Dark Matter by Mandira Pattnaik

2020 Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions: After Hours by Heather De Bell

2018 Best of the Net: Rooms by Abby Minor

2018 Best of the Net: “Exactly 299,792,458 Meters Per Second”
by Carolee Bennett

Writer’s Digest 2018 Standout Market

Writer’s Digest, Top 50 Online Literary Magazines

Web Del Sol Five-Star Review

2010 Best New Poets

2010 Best of the Web

2008 Best of the Web

2008 Dzanc Notable Story

2007 Best of the Web

2007 Million Writers Notable Story

On the Contrary

The first problem is the “Contrary” above the content. Why is it called Contrary, you might ask, when some of its content isn’t? We have a contemplation to confront this contradiction: we insist that all of our content is contrary. And, we insist, so is all of yours. Doesn’t it seem possible that all content is contrary, that there is no for, there is only against? Why else does the word contrary, so openly against something, have no antonym? What opposes contrary? Nothing. That which opposes contrary, by opposing, becomes contrary.

Besides, we tend to think contrarily, and we hope our magazine expresses contrarities that otherwise might go unexpressed: writings and images that confront entities, voids, and the edges of their own categories. As for that poetic nothing, the “Journal of Unpopular Discontent,” we conceal our dreams in the double negative, hoping to become a journal of popular content. (Spring 2003)