It seems like only yesterday that I opened a post office box in College Park, Maryland to accept submissions for a new literary journal named Samsara: The Magazine of Suffering. The year was 1993, and I was a student at the University of Maryland. During my studies I came across the Buddhist concept of samsara, the continuous cycle of suffering and rebirth until one achieves enlightenment. Of course, my twisted college brain immediately thought: “Why wouldn’t that be wonderful! A literary journal based on suffering!”
Well, maybe there was a bit more to it than that. After all, the official theme of the journal is artwork, poetry and fiction centered around suffering and healing, the latter being arguably far more important to us as human beings.
Through the years, the magazine’s reach has expanded (we’ve published writers from Africa, Canada, Mexico, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom), and my wonderful wife Lisa Flach-Fulcher joined the effort as the Managing Editor, vastly improving many of the day-to-day operations of the journal.
Despite these changes, Samsara has remained true to form, only accepting works that emphasize the central theme of suffering and healing. Beyond that, the magazine has no genre restrictions, and we’ve been amazed by the variety of ways that artists and writers have incorporated these themes into their submissions over the years.
We expected stories from cancer survivors, those recovering from addiction, and those mourning a lost love. All these themes are critically important to Samsara. But the creative spark will not be denied, and we received pleasantly unexpected new spins on suffering and healing as well. Consider the suffering of an alien race slowly perishing due to a dying sun, or a vampire with dementia. Consider a man plagued by the voice of a subway train that lures him to his death, or a paranoid individual convinced that fish live in his waterbed, giving him incurable insomnia.
All these ideas and more have appeared in Samsara’s pages, thanks to the ingenuity of our contributors.
Although we do not receive a lot of artwork, we always need art for the cover. The imagery of Samsara has changed throughout the years as well, so below we’ve presented some of the more interesting covers from our supporting artists.
Stay tuned, for in 2024 we plan to do something special for our 25th Issue!
Thank you to everyone that has joined on us on this publishing journey, and all of those interested in submitting in the future. Without you, there would be no Samsara Magazine.
Here’s to 30 more years!!
Lisa Flach-Fulcher, Managing Editor
R. David Fulcher, Editor