Established in 1974 by graduate students in the MFA Program in Creative Writing, Black Warrior Review is named for the river that borders the campus of The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The city, the river, and the magazine all derive their names from a 16th-century Native American chief Tuskaloosa (also spelled “Tushkalusa”), whose name comes from two words of Creek or Choctaw origin—tasca, meaning “warriors,” and lusa, meaning “black.” In 1540, Chief Tuskaloosa battled the Spanish conquistador de Soto at Mabila, a fortified Native American settlement approximately one hundred miles north of present-day Mobile. Chief Tuskaloosa is thought to have been among those who perished.
BWR publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, comics, and art twice a year. Contributors include Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners alongside emerging writers. Work appearing in BWR has been reprinted in the Pushcart Prize series, Best American Short Stories, Best American Poetry, PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize, New Stories from the South, and other anthologies.