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story.lead_photo.caption Oxford American magazine cover Fall 2019

Well, this is different.

It's the fall issue of the Little Rock-based Oxford American, which has undergone its biggest redesign since 2013 and first under editor Eliza Borne. The magazine hits newsstands Sept. 3.

The cover has changed. Instead of art with text blurbs about what's inside above it, there is now just an image. This issue features an enigmatic and striking photograph by Curran Hatleberg of two couples in front of a blazing pink azalea bush.

Since 2002, the magazine's banner logo on the cover has been a big ol' Oxford and a smaller American, a nod to Oxford, Miss., where it was founded in 1992 before moving to Little Rock in 2002.

Not anymore.

The new logo, created by OA art directors Milton Carter and Mike Reddy of the Carter/Reddy design and consulting firm, now stretches across the top of the page with Oxford and American in equal-size font. The cover is also made from heavier paper stock and has a pleasant, slightly textured feel.

The whole thing is hefty, as the quarterly OA, which won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2016, has bulked up to 176 pages. A switch to a heavier font for the text inside will also be a relief for those who can never remember where they put their reading glasses.

The current issue is a perfect example of the magazine at its best, presenting diverse Southern stories and art in all their complexity.

There is long-form reporting by Boyce Upholt about an American Indian tribe's fight for land on the Louisiana coast; short fiction by Sarah Curry, Jami Attenberg and Selena Anderson; a 16-page excerpt from the forthcoming Little Rock-set graphic novel Two Dead by former Democrat-Gazette police reporter Van Jensen and artist Nate Powell; a trio of short, wildly clever ghost stories by Little Rock novelist Kevin Brockmeier; poems by Nathaniel Mackey that stretch languidly over 20 pages and a piece by Kelundra Smith on the ballet Lucy Negro Redux.

Fine art and photography by Ruth Miller, Ebony G. Patterson and Walter Anderson, among others, are displayed handsomely throughout.

Little Rock native Borne, 32, spoke earlier this month about the redesign and the current issue.

"We spend a lot of time talking about what encourages a person to pick up and subscribe to a print magazine," she says. "We want our readers to feel like they are getting a value. That's why we increased the pages."

A four-issue subscription, she says, will stay at $39. Newsstand price is $10.95.

The OA, which Borne says has about 9,000 subscribers and is on 1,000 newsstands in all 50 states, is a nonprofit published in partnership with the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

"We're not confined to conventions," she says. "That's the thing about being a nonprofit, independent magazine, we can publish a ton of fiction, we can publish an epic poem that takes up 16-20 pages that you would not see in a commercial magazine, and we know our readers are going to appreciate that and will stick with us."

And beyond the literary works, there is reportage.

"I love working on our long, reported pieces like Upholt's 'Goodbye to Good Earth,'" Borne says. "It's the best of both worlds — narrative journalism, fiction and poetry."

Style on 08/27/2019

Print Headline: Oxford American bulks up, puts on a new face

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