Swim the Collective Consciousness with Molly Harris of Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge, A Journal of Contemporary Literature, publishes high quality poetry, fiction, essays, and art from established and emerging writers.

STL SPEX (Rachel): How would you describe the role of Natural Bridge within the world of literary publications? What are some of the unique qualities of this journal for readers, writers and artists?

Natural Bridge not only illuminates literary trends but also is a reflection of our nation and our community. Our short stories, poetry, and visual art brings forth the collective consciousness and show universal, relatable moments of fear, sadness, joy, and discovery. The beauty of literature is that is the opportunity to experience something firsthand through language. You will be able to live that moment. It allows readers to gather outsider their experiences and personal beliefs and find and empathy. Using literature to open hearts and minds is especially important in this current climate, I believe.

In addition to the internationally-renowned authors we publish, Natural Bridge is many authors’ first printed publication, and we are proud to showcase new talent. We also publish essays and translations—we’re always looking for these types of submissions, and it’s always a pleasure to come across them.

STL SPEX: What are your own artistic influences/interests?

When I started writing, artists such as Kelly Link and Miranda July really shaped my style. They have this really beautiful way of saying something so strange in a really minimalist, simple way. I just remember being in high school and reading No One Belongs Here More Than You and just being completely blown away.

For works I’ve read recently, Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black really sticks out to me. She has such good command of language. I just started Milkman by Anna Burns as well, and I’m really enjoying it so far. I also feel that music influences artists of all mediums, and I definitely find that true for myself. I’ve been listening to Orville Peck’s debut, Pony, on repeat these past couple weeks. I’m obsessed.

STL SPEX: What do you look for in submissions to Natural Bridge? How do you select and organize pieces to create an issue?

While we welcome and publish traditional pieces, we are open to and looking for work that doesn’t follow status-quo, work that has confidence and breaks boundaries. We love to be surprised by pieces.  

When it comes deciding work, it truly is a team effort. People put up stories for group reads, and whatever wins majority vote gets into the magazine. The organization can get tricky—I try to make the works cohesive in theme and visually different enough so that if you read an issue front-to-back, it should flow and not feel jarring to a reader.

We’re always looking for new work. We accept short stories, poetry, essays, translations, and artwork, so please submit!

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