Three years ago we brought you some stupendous news about a new literary magazine dedicated to all things Taco Bell. I'm happy to report that Taco Bell Quarterly is still going strong! Volume 6, Spring 2023, just dropped, and it's actually pretty awesome. While the journal, on the surface, seems like a joke, it's actually chock-full of really engaging writing. It contains poetry, short fiction, artwork, and more, and features terrific artists, writers, novelists, MFA candidates, folks who have published in outlets like Teen Vogue, the LA Times, and the Southern Review, and more! In other words, this is a serious literary magazine, even if it is also irreverent and ironic. In the Volume 6 Letter From The Editor, MM Carrigan writes:
TBQ6 is here. It's free. It's fresh. It's new. The old lit world is dying. As Peter Venkman warned in Ghostbusters, "we are headed towards a disaster of biblical proportions." The literary world is collapsing in on itself. Everything is closing, getting its funding pulled, having its book coverage slashed, laying off its talented writers and editors, and pivoting to video. Everything fucking sucks.
Become a writer anyway. Now is the perfect time to start a novel, a lit mag, a chapbook, or a big dumb project that will absolutely fail. Let's do it anyway. Let's make art. Let's get fast food and write love poems. Let's take the gates. We'll just invent something new in its place. We'll make it up as we go.
Here are some new poems and prose and comics and art. Here are some tits and tumors and piss and smut and existential dread and dogs and cats living together in mass hysteria. It's Art. It's Literary. It's Taco Bell. You will die a billion ass times in creative writing. But you will only live once, and time is already running out. Let's live más.
I've skimmed through the whole volume, and will read it more thoroughly this weekend. I was particularly drawn to Thanh Bui's (who is a writer and actor from Austin, Texas) short, stream-of-consciousness piece called "do asians dream of perfect sleep?" (the title is an homage to the Philip Dick novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"), which is about the pain involved in not living up to others' expectations, and that ends with a defiant "i'm going to get a fucking crunchwrap supreme." I also loved the raccoon-themed "Finding An Existential Crisis in the Taco Bell Parking Lot," written by Pushcart Prize nominee S. M. Hallow, with wonderful illustrations by Molly Amundson. Near the end, one of the raccoons asks the other, "Don't you imagine what your paws could make if you stopped scratching your crotch for five minutes?". The raccoons seriously contemplate this existential moment, and then go back to making butthole jokes and collapsing in laughter on top of the Taco Bell parking lot dumpster.
According to its submission guidelines, Taco Bell Quarterly pays $100 per accepted piece. TBQ describes what it's looking for:
Taco Bell Quarterly seeks literary/creative essays, short stories, fiction/prose, poems, comics, art, one act plays, fever dreams, multimedia, stupid status updates, criticisms, manifestos, recipes and anything else that explore any and all elements of Taco Bell. Or not. Shoehorn a chalupa in your short story. Maybe we'll love it. An elegy for the discontinued menu items? Fine. An experimental essay about marine biology and the XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito? Awesome. Review the new Beefy Fritos Burrito and how it reminds you of the time your grandma died? We want it. Something that introduces us to inventive form, dynamic language, and strong voice. Or perhaps it does none of the above. We're not judgey and pretentious. We're the Taco Bell fucking Quarterly. We lean towards pieces that are queer and center their pain/joy in a Taco Bell.
However, TBQ is not currently taking submissions, but check back, I'm sure they'll announce a call for the next Volume soon. In the meantime, go read Volume 6, and enjoy!