aka: Crazy Horse
aka: swamp pink

Crazyhorse was a literary journal, published twice yearly, containing short stories, poetry, and essays. It was based in Arkansas for nearly two decades and has, during its lifespan, published work by many award-winning writers, including John Updike, Raymond Carver, John Ashbery, Robert Bly, National Book Award winners Ha Jin and Charles Wright, Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Simic, and former Poet Laureate Billy Collins. Other writers have been Guggenheim fellows, received National Endowment of the Arts fellowships, or have had work selected for the Best American anthologies. The journal was renamed swamp pink in 2022.

Poet Tom McGrath founded the journal in 1960 in Los Angeles, California, calling it Crazy Horse after the rebel Native American leader. In the turbulent 1960s, McGrath used the magazine as a platform to call for political change. It was a decidedly anti-establishment publication, calling for surrealistic poetry and out-of-the-mainstream writing, or “everything to help blow up the system.”

By the end of the 1960s, McGrath moved the magazine from Los Angeles to New York, then to North Dakota State University and later Moorhead State University in Moorhead, Minnesota. By 1970, it had moved to Southwest State University in Marshall, Minnesota, where Philip Dacey took over as editor after McGrath resigned.

In the 1970s, Dacey and subsequent editors continued to publish poetry with political overtones, but the emphasis slowly began to shift from politics and surrealism, focusing on more straightforward and mainstream literary values.

In 1976, Dacey resigned, and Howard Mohr became editor. Deb and Edith Wylder, who had been instrumental in bringing the magazine to Southwest State University, left that institution for Murray State University in Kentucky in 1977, and when Crazy Horse fell into financial straits in Minnesota, they helped move it to Murray State. They changed the name to Crazyhorse and expanded the format to include fiction and critical essays, increasing the number of pages from forty to 110. Poetry editors Jorie Graham and James Galvin and fiction editor Joe Ashby Porter came on board and helped make Crazyhorse one of the most respected journals of the time.

In 1981, Crazyhorse moved to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), where it prospered for over a decade. In the 1980s, David Wojahn served as poetry editor but resigned in 1986. He was replaced by Ralph Burns but returned in 1988, along with co-editors Lynda Hull and Dean Young. Dennis Vannatta served as criticism editor and David Jauss as fiction editor. Russell Murphy was managing editor from 1983 to 1987, and K. Z. D. Stodola took over in 1987. During this time, Crazyhorse expanded to 146 pages. But as the millennium drew to a close, Crazyhorse was forced to leave Arkansas because of financial problems.

In the early 2000s, Crazyhorse started publishing from the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. In 2005, it was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In fall 2022, the journal published its last issue as Crazyhorse, saying it was disavowing its “longstanding appropriation” of Native American culture by using the name of Lakota chief Crazy Horse. The first issue of the journal as swamp pink—named for a member of the lily family that is indigenous to the Carolinas and listed as a threatened species due to environmental encroachment, development, and the introduction of invasive species—was published in spring 2023.

For additional information:
Jauss, David. The Best of Crazyhorse: Thirty Years of Poetry and Fiction. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1990.

swamp pink. (accessed August 3, 2023).

C. L. Bledsoe
Ghoti magazine


No comments on this entry yet.