Southern River of Words

April 2015
Written By: 
Denise K. James
Waccamaw—a journal of contemporary literature

They say that if you want to become a better writer, reading is the best way to accomplish that goal. And while “they” don't tell you what specifically to read in order to inspire the nine muses, Coastal Carolina University's own literary journal, Waccamaw, is a fine choice.
Initially published in spring 2008 with founding editor and faculty member Dan Albergotti at the helm, Waccamaw filled a literary void at the university.

“When I joined CCU’s English Department in August of 2005, there was great interest in expanding creative writing course offerings and developing a literary journal,” Albergotti said. “I had editorial experience at The Greensboro Review and the online journal storySouth, so I was asked to create a journal.”

The editorial staff for the first issue of Waccamaw was just two people: Albergotti and his fiction writing colleague, Jason Ockert.  Because they wanted to illustrate "the Waccamaw product” before asking for submissions, the debut issue was made up entirely of solicited material from writers Dan and Jason admired—a combination of poetry, short fiction and essays similar to what readers will find in the journal now.

While Waccamaw hasn’t changed much since 2008 in terms of content and voice, last year it experienced a redesign, in addition to Cara Blue Adams taking over the reins as editor. Like Dan, Cara has plenty of experience cultivating a literary journal; she worked five years at The Southern Review before coming to CCU as an assistant professor in creative writing.

“I worked closely with Alli Crandell, the digital content coordinator at Athenaeum Press, on the redesign,” she said. “We strove to maintain the simplicity of the original website while modernizing the layout and palette, creating a new look for the magazine that feels crisp and modern.”

Of course, they have more help putting the journal together these days. In fact, Cara has implemented a course to complement the new Master of Arts in Writing degree offered by the university, which allows students to see an issue through to completion.
“The class involves reading submissions, editing, production and learning about other magazines,” she said.

Cara encourages those interested in submitting to Waccamaw to read issues of the journal online.

“We’re looking for sharply written work that speaks to the human experience and feels vital,” she mused. “My work as an editor has broadened my taste by exposing me to writers of all different aesthetics. One thing never changes: I always look forward to reading what comes across my desk next.”

To read the latest issue of Waccamaw, visit