River Styx Relaunch: Literary Journal Continues to Make Waves

March 19, 2024

Categories Impact Stories

River Styx, St. Louis’ oldest literary and visual arts journal, has officially relaunched its publication. For over 48 years, they have inspired local and national audiences with moving poetry and striking visual pieces. Though extreme financial and staffing struggles threatened the future of the publication, local organizations such as the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RACSTL) helped keep it afloat.  

“The pandemic caused financial stress,” said Deborah Taffa, River Styx Editor-In-Chief. “I was on the board for years and money was always tight, but it was only after the pandemic started, and the original team was dismantled, that things became difficult.”  

Managing editors came and went, and at one point, Taffa’s husband even volunteered his truck to relocate their offices in an effort to save money. Regardless of the setbacks or amount of time it took, Taffa notes she was determined to find a new team that shared the vision of the magazine’s future.   

“When it comes to creating art, or building an art community, there are always obstacles, and that is why you must dive in and get it done as soon as possible,” Taffa said. “River Styx is too venerable a magazine to allow it to die.”  

Taffa credits various unpaid volunteers, specifically their accountant Clea Annarecho and grant writer Michele Ryan, for keeping the publication alive. She also credits Bryan Castile, Managing Editor, and his ‘aesthetic vision’, including noteworthy upgrades like the sleek, new website aimed at enhancing the written works and artwork. 

Some of the financial stability can also be credited to the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, the Missouri Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Over the years, RACSTL has given River Styx four program support grants, adding up to $44,500. “These organizations contributed to the relaunch by believing in the historic value of the magazine,” said Taffa. “They saw the care with which the grants were written, and they were willing to give our new editorial team a chance.”    

As for the future of the journal, River Styx is focusing on stability, consciously scaling the magazine and looking forward to its 50th anniversary next year. “Not many literary journals reach that milestone,” Taffa said. “I think everyone will be excited to see what we’re putting together for that. I don’t want to give anything away, but you’re going to see us bring River Styx’s past into its present in some interesting and unexpected ways.”   

Taffa offers sage advice for other literary magazines navigating the current landscape of the post-pandemic world. “Expect challenges and never give up. Don’t let fear of failure or feelings of competition discourage you,” Taffa said. “Don’t be discouraged by how long things take. Just stay in your lane and keep your focus on your own goals rather than letting yourself fall to comparisons. Being a supporter of the arts is always worth it.” 

The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, the largest public funder of the arts in St. Louis, proudly supported River Styx with four Program Support Grants in 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2023.  

To keep up with River Styx, follow their Instagram and Facebook or check for new issues on their website