A Score of Five Points

Georgia State’s literary magazine is turning 20, and Megan Sexton (M.F.A. ’93, Ph.D. ’98) keeps it at the top of its game.

Megan Sexton was there when the very first issue of Five Points, A Journal of Literature and Art, Georgia State’s long-running literary magazine, was put to bed.


Megan Sexton

That first publication is celebrating its 20th birthday this fall. In the two decades since the first issue appeared, Sexton has been a part of each journal — from a doctoral student on the start-up team to co-editor (with David Bottoms, Georgia’s poet laureate and professor of English).

These days, the magazine is widely regarded as one of the best literary magazines in the country. It’s been name dropped by Stephen King in his introduction to “The Best American Short Stories 2007” as well as in the New York Times Book Review (“which I read religiously, so that was a big treat,” Sexton said), and has appeared in dozens of top 10 lists and “best of” anthologies.

“It indicates that people like what you do,” Sexton said.

Work from literary giants such as Pulitzer Prize winners Philip Levine and Louis Simpson and former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins have appeared in its pages, but Sexton said one of the magazine’s main missions is to promote emerging writers. And that means scrutinizing the thousands of manuscripts that come across her desk.

“We’re always reading,” she said. Over the years, Five Points has been a literature lab for graduate students in the Master of Fine Arts program and creative writing students. Sexton estimated she and her staff of students and faculty colleagues read about 5,000 poems, essays and short stories last fall.

Sexton is also an award-winning poet. “Swift Hour,” a collection of her poems, received the Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry. She also teaches classes in the Creative Writing Department.

To celebrate 20 years of the magazine, Sexton is curating an exhibition this fall in the Georgia State Library special collection. That exercise has found her thumbing through each and every one of the 46 issues she’s been involved in.

“Georgia State has been a great place to grow as a writer, an editor and student of literature,” she said.

Photo by Ben Rollins