About drafthorse


What is our editorial mission?
            drafthorse is a biannual online publication of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, visual narrative, and other media art where work, occupation, labor—or lack of the same—is in some way intrinsic to a narrative’s potential for epiphany.  

What’s in a name?
            Whether a draft horse drags a plow point through the dirt, dredges logs up hill, trudges in circles to mill cane, prances before a beer wagon, or grazes on a hillside, it is a perfect metaphor for a journal that observes how work runs through our lives. The word “draft” also refers to gathering, as with fishing net, to draw or outline. It is a colloquial term for creek or stream. Then there are the drafts of an author’s work and the perhaps outdated image of a photographer’s or filmmaker’s cutting room floor. We like the name because it inspires us to do our best work, to look for the best work, and not to shy away from what’s hard, what may be a difficult row to plow.

Why the focus on work?
            drafthorse is not a regional journal, although it is published by Lincoln Memorial University, located in the heart of the Appalachians. Here work has defined the region since indigenous peoples, and later settlers of European and African descent, extracted a living on steep hillsides amid a stunning but often treacherous landscape, and where work eventually became as political and as dangerous as a ballot box.
            It was because of economic distress, in part, that Lincoln Memorial University was established. At one time, LMU was a work school, also referred to as an opportunity school.  Students milked cows, picked tomatoes, ran the laundry and more to cover the cost of their tuition. One of our most distinguished graduates, author James Still, often referred to as the poet laureate of Appalachia, broke rock in the quarry and later cleaned the library at night in exchange for tuition remission. After getting his work done in short order, he spent the rest of the night reading the books at his fingertips.
            Today, alongside a liberal arts education, LMU offers professional education in the areas of osteopathic medicine, law, education and business.  In the near future, the University proposes expanded studies in veterinary medicine and energy sciences.
            While we at drafthorse are just as eager to publish stories or poems about a grape grower from the Napa Valley or photographs of lobster fishermen in Maine, we are of this place, and will most definitely look to publish a healthy dose of storytelling that reflects our own history in relationship to labor.
            Wherever you are, work can be gratifying, satisfying, invigorating and redemptive. It can be brutal, boring and dangerous. It can be someone’s life or just a job. It can be embraced or avoided.  It can be the thing just out of reach. It is at the heart of survival, at the root of an individual’s and community’s identity. We map history by the evolution of tools and our ability to use them. Our names have come from our ancestor’s occupations. Our country was once divided and bloody because of opposing philosophical beliefs about work and who should do it and at what price. Today the ability to work for fair compensation is still not guaranteed. Opportunities for work erode daily due to advancing technologies, disability, disinterest, disguised monopolies, hostile takeovers, immigration, globalization and migration—even of the jobs themselves. And yet, new enterprises abound. The editors of drafthorse are interested in work, or absence of work, as an avenue to explore how people both manifest and transcend their nature as physical and spiritual beings.