CONTENTS

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:

We’d like to invite editors and writers to participate in our new series on issues and representations of race, class, gender, and sexuality in independent publishing. How do these issues affect you as an literary magazine editor interested in publishing underrepresented communities, or a writer who wants to challenge dominant notions of identity? What are your thoughts, concerns, ideas about how literary communities reinforce, respond to, and confront racism, classicism, sexism, and homophobia? Contact Marcelle Heath at lunaparkonline@gmail.com.


"Little magazines are the furnace where American literature is being forged."

George Hitchcock, Editor of Kayak (1964-1984)


elephants


SERIES: Race, Class, Gender & Sexuality in Indie Publishing

You Girls (pt. 2)
By Helen Sedgwick

"As an editor, I would not publish a piece of writing that contained attitudes I find unacceptable anymore than I would publish a story that I thought was badly written."

You Girls (pt. 1)
By Kirsty Logan

"As an editor, I do not care about writers' gender or sexuality; I'm just interested in exciting short fiction. But I'm a woman and I'm queer and I'm a feminist. As such, I'm more likely to be interested in characters that I can identify with and themes that I agree with."

Questions of Authenticity
By Michael Copperman

"The question of authenticity, then, especially authorial authority conferred on the basis of phenotype or racial background, is the wrong line of inquiry."

Community and the Body
By Sherisse Alvarez

"My work has appeared in various publications interested specifically in issues of identity. I still struggle at times with the notion of the “mainstream,” how my work relates or does not relate to the canon."

Jarrett Haley, BULL: Fiction for Thinking Men
With Jarrett Haley

"That I am not a sociologist or gender-studier by trade I should make clear to begin with."

I Don't Know How to Write About Race
By Roxane Gay

"This is only about race."


INTERVIEWS

Megan M. Garr, Versal

Jarrett Haley, BULL: Fiction for Thinking Men

Laura van den Berg, Part II

Laura van den Berg, Part I

Allison Seay, The Greensboro Review

Mary Miller

Eilis O'Neal, Nimrod International

Erin Fitzgerald, Northville Review

Don Bogen, Cincinnati Review

Andrew Porter

Nam Le

Benjamin Percy


LUNA DIGEST

Luna Digest, 1/5

"One of the more interesting literary magazine discussions to come about in recent months has happened via email, twitter feeds, and blogs about Andrew Whitacre’s post titled “The End of the Small Print Journal. Please.” on the identity theory editors’ blog."

Luna Digest, 12/15

"The Atlantic Monthly decides not only to be the first magazine to sell single short stories for the Kindle, but they will also charge 4 times as much as One Story does for a single story. And One Story will actually print the story out and mail it to your house."

Luna Digest, 12/8

"Today’s the day The San Francisco Panorama from McSweeney’s hits the streets. The idea is to put out an exciting newspaper edition to show the power of the medium in a world of declining newspaper publishing incentives."

Luna Digest, 12/3

"For most people who read fiction and spend much time online, this won’t be news: Electric Literature recently twittered the entirety of Rick Moody’s story “Some Contemporary Characters” over three days with the assistance of several co-publishers, of which Luna Park was one."

Luna Digest, 11/24

"I’ve been stumbling across some great excerpts recently from David Shields’s upcoming book Reality Hunger: A Manifesto..."

Luna Digest, 11/17

"Just how much did Salman Rushdie have to do with Alex Clark’s resignation from Granta? (Nothing at all, according to him.)"


ARTICLES

Strong Recommendations
By Greg Weiss

"I had the feeling, when I finished reading, that I had been spending my time well, not just in relation to the time that I had actually spent reading it, but more generally. And I often don’t feel that way."

Whimsy
By David Backer

"But then I read the other stories and felt the good things they have to offer. I felt their quanta of colors and semantics congealing together and I began to like it. Because, to some degree, this is how we experience life: through concatenations of colors and emotions and words, mixtures stippling into the stories of our existences."

Between Earnestness & Irony
By Greg Weiss

"The largest problem with irony as a dominant literary device is that, similarly to Surrealist painting, it is easy to do fairly well but very difficult to do greatly."

People Like People
By David Backer

"After reading a lot of online fiction last month, I'm noticing something: people like people. People like reading about people, anyway."

The Cellist's Disorientation

"I would like to believe that in the midst of loneliness and worry (the anxious, questioning voice at the end) the world feels perfectly made for us and that we assist in its making."

There Is No Visible Circus

"Jennifer Atkinson's "A Leaf from the Book of Cities"— an ekphrastic poem written after Paul Klee's painting of the same name—caught my attention in the most recent issue of Cave Wall..."

Panorama Week Part 5: All the News

Panorama Week Part 4: The Comics

Panorama Week Part 3: Section One (or The News)

Panorama Week Part 2: The Book Review of the Future?

Panorama Week Part 1: Opening the Package

Teachers: Use Literary Magazines
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"Before I go any further, I should admit that I could be doing a much better job in my financial support of literary magazines....but those who have worked in public education know the difficulties of working within community-voted budgets.  Literary magazine subscriptions at the classroom level are an educational luxury, not a need.  But that’s not a sufficient excuse."

Aiming High: The Impossible Ambitions of Versal
By Sam Ruddick

"I have no experience with gorilla suits or child soldiering, myself, but I think it’s reasonable to suspect that standing around in a gorilla suit is better than being coerced into shooting people, or getting shot at."

Espresso Book Machine
By Marcelle Heath

"On Demand Books's digital photocopier, book trimmer and binder, and desktop computer that can produce a trade paperback book in five to ten minutes."

Poets Publishing Poets: A Review of Cave Wall 5
By George Held

"When a young prize-winning poet decides to publish her own poetry journal, readers get to see how her taste compares to her talent."

I Don't Know How to Write About Race
By Roxane Gay

"This is only about race."

Interview with Former Greensboro Review Poetry Editor Alison Seay
By Jordan Elliott

"I don't know that it's a matter of being comfortable in our skin as much as it is our belief in the importance of the tangible book."

On Nimrod International: An Interview & Notes
By Jeffrey Tucker

"For poetry, we dislike poems that are actually more like journal entries rather than poems. For fiction, we see a lot of stories that are really just “talking heads,” stories in which people stand around and talk and yet nothing happens."

Dismissing Africa
By Greg Weiss

"One of the many risks of Witness, 'the magazine of the Black Mountain Institute,' presenting an issue dedicated to the theme of Dismissing Africa is that the very notion of dismissing 'Africa' already dismisses the individuals who live in Africa."

Poets and Prose: Gerard Manley Hopkins and Fiction Theory
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"Robert Olen Butler is careful in his definition...he is not arguing that yearning is individual to the short short story form. Rather, yearning is endemic to fiction."

Literary Magazines in Peril?
By Travis Kurowski

"At least part of the problem is the usual one: All of these magazine have no doubt a vastly greater number of people desiring to be published in their pages than they have readers willing to financially support their endeavors."

Interview: Erin Fitzgerald, Northville Review
By Marcelle Heath

"I like when someone's very quietly or very openly fooling with an emotional manipulation dial."
"While my stories aren't autobiographical, I really do believe in the whole write-what-you-know thing. One time I wrote a story from the point of view of an old sick man and it was just terrible. It was like really bad Carver. The man sat around watching daytime television and eating pie."

Sort-of Prose Poems
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"James Harms offers a contemplative effort in a lean essay that turns the prose poem discussion in a noteworthy direction..."

Poetry 2.0
By Marcelle Heath

"Setting aside, for now, its ideological nomenclature, its appeal lies in the interpretative dynamic between text and image..."

Greetings from Knockout
By Brett Ortler

"We started KO because we wanted to try something that was different than we'd seen in other literary magazines, both in terms of thematic slant and in terms of mission..."
"He said that if he were asked to be poetry editor of a magazine, he would aim for unity. I told him that was more or less the exact opposite of what I wanted to do..."

Bon Voyage
By Marcelle Heath

"I imagine party-goers huddled around a fire pit as they share stories about stalking a would-be lover..."

In Brief: The Appeal of Brevity
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"Contemporary flash fiction has been slugged, whipped, and slapped: dragged through the literary mud, pegged as incidental..."
"Kayla Soyer-Stein recreates the wonderful magic and sense of the uncanny that fairy tales offer..."
"Recently I won a best humorous poem competition, and it appears I have a knack for healthy self-ridicule..."
"I think about that a lot—about the balance of light and dark and about allowing my characters to have an open destiny. I think that’s one of the most important aspects of story writing..."
"It calls itself the 'farthest north literary journal for writing and the arts,' which sounded a bit suspicious to me, so I did a little poking around to verify the assertion..."
"The history of Poetry is a history of resistance in all directions..."
"The 1990s was a wild, wonderful, idealistic decade in Prague. Excellent exchange rates and the possibility of a relatively uninhibited way of life lured expatriates in droves to the Czech capital. In short, it was the perfect time for the founding of a literary journal..."
"One author climbs to the top of a tree trunk support beam that’s part of the architecture of the writing space. Another is balancing a couch cushion on his head and explaining wog: a dog who uses a dog-sized wheel chair to get his back end around San Francisco..."

Avian Arts: The LBJ
By Nicholas Ripatrazone

"While literary niches often result in suffocation, eighty pages of plaid, The LBJ’s aviary focus proves malleable enough..."
“'In consideration of what looks like a total collapse of our economic system,' he said, 'I thought the bookfair went very well...'"
"There are two wooden figures on my husband’s desk. Figurines. They are meant to resemble humans, black humans. African-Americans..."
 
 
Sort-of Prose Poems
April 16, 2009

By Nicholas Ripatrazone

West Branch 63, the Fall/Winter 2008 issue of Bucknell’s semiannual, contains a rather conservative swath of poems, at least in the realm of structure and form. John Estes’s “Year: Two” is the lone exception, a four-page poem laddered in phrase and image. It is both welcoming and surprising, then, to see that James Harms’s essay in “The Back of the Book” deals with the malleable form of prose poetry. Harms, a contributing editor to the journal, offers a contemplative effort in “‘Goodtime’ Jesus and Other Sort-of Prose Poems,” a lean essay that turns the prose poem discussion in a noteworthy direction.

Harms’s critical pitch is relaxed and nearly folk: he hopes the reader can “make believe something is really at stake here.” He selects the approachable James Tate as his entry point into the form: the 1979 poem “Goodtime Jesus.” The choice is interesting: it is not a particularly palpable work. While the poem is representative of Tate’s canon and person—“funny and strange and maybe even a little dangerous”—it by no means commands linguistic attention. In fact, it is more akin to the first sounding within an apologia. If we position “Goodtime Jesus” next to another representative work of the form by Tate, such as “The List of Famous Hats,” we notice a form of clipped comedy, the truncated surrealism prose poetry has nearly become known for, at least in the guise of Russell Edson. The work of Tate and Edson is an odd amalgam of formula and fabulism. It does not appear the type of work around which a driven aesthetic would or could arise.

Not that Harms has such an intention. He chooses Tate to posit a point: “It seems to me that many, many prose poems read like lined verse with the breaks removed.” This is a curious assertion to offer after selecting Tate as an option. Harms earlier claims that he “often can’t discern a specific or verifiable difference between Tate’s poems in lines and those in prose,” although even a brief comparison between the aforementioned prose poems and “Success Comes to Cow Creek” reveals marked acoustic and linear shifts. Harms does have time on his side, as Tate’s later work “seems written for the most part in lined blocks.”

We need not belittle the selection of Tate to begin a meditation on the prose poem. Rather, the selection is useful because Tate is a poet who straddles both forms, and the question is whether such dipping creates slippage, bleeding of intent and purpose across lined and prose styles. To investigate that end, Harms offers a list of those who can “banish the line break, [and yet their] language retains its essential poetry”: “Baudelaire . . . Rilke, Neruda, Simic.” “Pocket Theatre,” his offering from the last poet in the list, is a rich prose poem, much more complete and engaging than the Tate excerpt. Harms hopes to compliment “Pocket Theatre” with the first stanza of “The Clocks of the Dead,” also by Simic, to show there is little shift in “enactment of sound or rhythm” across the forms. Unfortunately, the Simic prose poem rings more poetic and alive than the traditionally structured contrast, and the succeeding explanation of Tate’s modulations feels incomplete.

Harms does hit his stride within his discussion of Robert Hass. Hass is useful since he “quite assertively rejects a certain model of the prose poem”: the Tate and Edson variety. Harms references a 1991 Iowa Review interview with Hass, within which Hass notes a complex catalogue of the form: “condensation” occurs, the form “seem[s] like photography,” and it has a “certain outwardness” absent in verse. Harms includes a great selection here: “My Mother’s Nipples,” a hybrid that “moves tensely between psychologically fraught passages of prose recollection and more descriptive and incantory stanzas that seem interested primarily in transformation and connection.” Prose and lined forms can be complimentary, not distant and distinct. In fact, a certain evolution of elements of the lined form—such as “voice,” at least in the case of Tomas Tranströmer—become “far more accessible” in the prose entity.

Now Harms rolls: “in attempting to overcome the limitations of line and lyric length, the lined narrative poem often tends to slackness; in risking the relative slackness of expository language, the prose poem tends toward tightness, toward concision.” In fact, he doubles back on “Goodtime Jesus” as almost an arbitrary example of the form, clearly not everything a prose poem could become. And, in a welcome conclusion, Harms returns to the approachable tone of his beginning: “When it comes down to it, the prose poem seems simply to add to our choices, to give us another option when we can’t figure out how to make the damn thing work.” Of course, he knows it is more than that. But, because that is all a prose poem need be, it is an acceptable alternative to the lined form.

[The above picture is the cover art for West Branch 63: Unison, by Lance Morrison, 2008, oil on canvas. 72" x 48"]

FEATURED MAG / MAY 2010

mcsweeney's 32

Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern 32; Editor: Dave Eggers; Published: San Francisco; Est: 1998. www.mcsweeneys.net


Luna Digest on Fictionaut Blog every Tuesday:

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NEWSREEL

Joseph Brodsky's literary executor launches new poetry magazine: Little Star

New lit mag: Artifice

New indie publishing wiki is launched by Dave Housley and Roxane Gay

CLMP's Lit Mag Adoption Program for Creative Writing Students

Upcoming Creative Nonfiction redesign

Galley Cat says Rick Moody's Twitter story generates Twitter backlash

"Fictionaut and the Future of the Literary Journal" at Galleycat

More editors leave Granta after magazine "restructuring"

Trailer for Colson Whitehead's short story "The Comedian" from Electric Literature #2

McSweeney's offers preview of their upcoming newspaper issue, the SF Panorama

On the lit blog Bookish Us: “Why Don’t Aspiring Writers Read More Literary Magazines”

PAST NEWSREEL...


EVENTS

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One Story cocktail hour at Pianos, New York City [ongoing series]

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