A Taco Bell-Themed Literary Journal Is Planning Its Third Volume
The collection of poetry, fiction, essays, and visual art drops this September.
As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, many people are feeling exhausted, anxious, and alienated, with many of our usual support networks being socially-distanced away. Offering to fill this void is a relatively new publication rooted in something most people can relate to and (hopefully) find comfort in: Taco Bell Quarterly.
Billed as “the literary magazine for the Taco Bell Arts and Letters” (and also “absolutely not affiliated with Taco Bell”), Taco Bell Quarterly first launched as a downloadable PDF last summer. Volume 2 went live online more recently and is where the inherently silly idea—a collection of poetry, fiction, essays, and visual creations all tied to a Taco Bell theme—actually began to pick up steam as news outlets like The A.V. Club and New York Post covered the concept.
“Volume 1 was downloaded by about 1,500 people when it came out in August 2019,” MM Carrigan—humorously referred to as the “Editor Grande Supreme”—told me via email. “Volume 2 came out in February 2020 and has been seen by nearly 40,000 people so far, according to web stats.”
That increased attention also meant more submissions, and Carrigan recently told Salon that Volume 3, which is slated to arrive in September, will require a bit more curation, thanks to hundreds more submissions.
In fact, even Taco Bell reached out to the quarterly. “Taco Bell enjoys being the WTF brand—whether they're finding a new place to add a layer of cheese, shove some Fritos, or creating an entire hotel,” Carrigan told me. “They dig the idea of having a bunch of offbeat writers writing the Great American Taco Bell novel. It's free advertising for them, but I hope people will actually read our magazine before scoffing. We have cutting edge stuff—queer readings of Crunchwraps, pieces exploring homelessness, suburban dread, poverty, American identity, and so much more.”
Speaking of which, Carrigan told Salon that, unlike the previous issues, which tended to lean toward the “nostalgia” of Taco Bell, Volume 3 will be "informed by a wariness; it's not necessarily about the pandemic, but I think it's just so any of those pieces that are sort of a little bit on the lighter side are not going to make it in this time.” Consider it a more mature fast food-themed literally magazine, I guess?
At the very least, she told me Taco Bell Quarterly has big plans for the future.
“We aspire to be the greatest literary magazine of all time,” she said. “We will have 100 volumes, a Golden Omnibus edition, an off-Broadway musical, scholarships, writing retreats, and if we feel like it, maybe, just maybe, we'll bring back the Volcano menu.”
The first two issues of Taco Bell Quarterly are currently available at TacoBellQuarterly.org.