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..."

Some Thoughts on Poetry
By Ben Leubner

"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..."

The 7th Annual New Orleans Bookfair
By Kenneth Harshbarger

“'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..."
 
 

The following is a brief excerpt of an essay from West Branch 63, Fall/Winter 2008. Author James Harms is a contributing editor to West Branch.


“Goodtime Jesus” and Other
Sort-of Prose Poems
By
James Harms

I suspect the reason I can’t remember my first encounter with the prose poem has a great deal to do with when I came of age as a poet, the fact that my teachers didn’t think of the prose poem as exotic or strange or even particularly sexy. Interestingly, I can remember the first time I read James Tate’s “Goodtime Jesus,” a prose poem that appears in his book Riven Doggeries, published in 1979 when I was nineteen:

Jesus got up one day a little later than usual. He had been dreaming so deep there was nothing left in his head. What was it? A nightmare, dead bodies walking all around him, eyes rolled back, skin falling off. But he wasn’t afraid of that. It was a beautiful day. How ‘bout some coffee? Don’t mind if I do. Take a little ride on my donkey, I love that donkey. Hell, I love everybody.

Like a lot of undergraduates of my generation, being assigned Tate in a poetry workshop was a rite of passage and a wakeup call, a little like hearing “London Calling” for the first time (which was also released in 1979). Tate was funny and strange and maybe even a little dangerous; the fact that he often wrote prose poems seemed incidental. In all honesty it still does. I often can’t discern a specific or verifiable difference between Tate’s poems in lines and those in prose (this is especially true recently, when his work seems written for the most part in lined blocks). I don’t doubt that Tate has very good reasons for writing some poems in lines, some in prose, but I can’t imagine they’d matter much to the reader.

This leads me to a scandalous assertion (not really, but let’s make believe something is really at stake here): I’m not sure it matters all that much whether some poems are lined or not. This isn’t to say that free verse poetry lacks rhythmic integrity and/ or music, that its relation to the line is random or convenient; for tired arguments on the essential slackness of a free verse line, one should consult The New Criterion. In fact, I’m arguing the
opposite. It seems to me that many, many prose poems read like lined verse with the breaks removed. This is true of Baudelaire (in many translations), Rilke, Neruda, Simic and any number of wonderfully fluent poets who move back and forth from line breaks to margins. Each of these poets has a sensibility that is recognizable from across the room. Each has a way of inhabiting language that no amount of density is going to mask. When these
poets banish the line break, the language retains its essential poetry; in other words, the character of the image and the coordination of phrases (the musical interaction of syntactical units) remain in effect regardless of the poem’s “look.” Here is a prose poem from Simic’s book A Wedding in Hell, a collection that mixes poetry in prose and poetry in lines:

Fingers in an overcoat pocket. Fingers sticking out of a black leather glove. The nails chewed raw. One play is called “Thieves’ Market,” another “Night in a Dime Museum.” The fingers when they strip are like bewitching nude bathers or the fake wooden limbs in a cripple factory. No one ever sees the play: you put your hand in somebody else’s pocket on the street and feel the action.

The language retains the plain-spoken matter-of-factness that most Simic poems feature, and the poem emphasizes the softly surreal imagery that has always made him such an original. But when I compare it to a lined poem from the same book, I’m not sure I hear a different enactment of sound or rhythm. Here, for instance, is the first stanza of “The Clocks of the Dead”:

One night I went to keep the clock company.
It had a loud tick after midnight
As if it were uncommonly afraid.
It’s like whistling past the graveyard,
I explained.
In any case, I told him I understood.

To clarify this a bit (at the risk of running the ship right up the cul-de-sac), let’s return to Tate. What makes his poetry distinctive has more to do with the way he occupies space and time than it does with prosody. His prose poems assert a postmodern relationship to everyday life (without acceding to the existence of anything remotely or theoretically postmodern) in exactly the same way his lined poems do. In other words, they presume a world in which a historical figure famous for riding a donkey and privileging love (at his own expense) is as prone to ghoulish nightmares as the rest of us, and requires the same sort of caffeinated jolt in the morning as we all do, regardless of whether or not such a beverage even existed during his historical epoch. Tate’s poems have always anachronistically and surrealistically leveled high and low culture, not so much to critique either but to embrace a larger sense of reality, one that acknowledges the complex intersection of conscious and unconscious states, the real and imagined. Tate’s postmodernism is a lifestyle not a theory. And for him, prose seems an opportunity to do something different with the shape of the vessel that holds the language, not so much with the texture of the language itself. Tate is interested in how we as readers encounter phrases, and how our expectations are undermined and exploited by extending the horizontal momentum of the language while suspending the vertical. But that’s just Tate. And that’s why reading “Goodtime Jesus” for the first time in 1979 didn’t register as anything more remarkable than reading another cool James Tate poem, though it was, in all likelihood, the first, or one of the first, prose poems I ever read (which says something about my undergraduate education: Baudelaire who?)...

To read the rest of Harms's essay on prose poetry, pick up a copy of West Branch 63.

FEATURED MAG / MAY 2010

mcsweeney's 32

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


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NEWSREEL

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

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

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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

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