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

Skin Deep
By Marcelle Heath

"The site's minimalist design is deceiving. What seems to be beneath the skin is violence."

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..."
 
 
New Digs
June 16, 2010

construction signNot seen a lot of content here? Next week we'll launch our new site, designed by the wonderful & talented bunch over at Supreme Value.

Upcoming: More commentary on recent fiction from David Backer, an interview with the lit/rock magazine Shaking Like a Mountain, a looks at the new Creative Nonfiction, American Short Fiction, Artifice, Witness, ....

 

 

PERMANENT LINK


Skin Deep
May 21, 2010

On the Lauch of Corium

MARCELLE HEATH

 

 

Image from corium magazineNamed after the inner layer of skin beneath the epidermis, Corium's debut issue features some terrific writers and writing, including Kim Chinquee, Laura Ellen Scott, Sheldon Compton, Sam Rasnake, Cami Park and more—not surprising, considering its veteran team: Lauren Becker, Heather Fowler, and Greg Gerke.

The site's minimalist design is deceiving. What seems to be beneath the skin is violence: domestic violence in Stephen Elliott's "Once More Beneath the Exit Sign," the violence of war in Shaindel Beers "The Children’s War: Poems on Children’s Artwork of War," and sexual violence in Andrea Kneeland's "Pretty." All of these pieces raise interesting questions about the relationship between hegemony and power.

Two micros from Scott Garson's forthcoming collection American Gymnopédies, "Des Moines Gymnopédie" and "Manhattan Gymnopédie," address class politics by way of music culture. Christina Murphy's "Chilling Effects" is metafiction at its finest, reimagining artifice as loss. And Kathy Fish's wonderfully funny "Still They Hear What They Want to Hear" is representative in its clever quirkiness of the debut issus as a whole:

A man and a woman talk in a bar.
A man and a woman talk while eating pudding.
A man and a woman talk about trivial matters with underlying sexual tension.
A man and a woman examine newspaper clippings.
And talk about their gigantic, oozing pasts.
She must be young and pretty, but kind of a slut.
He must be somewhat mysterious or dark or torn.
They must love themselves and each other.
But they are kind of lazy.
No, they are really lazy.
A man and a woman talk on a mattress.
A man and a woman talk while lighting matches and flicking them at one another.
A man and a woman talk talk talk in a diner.
A man and a woman have their first conversation.
And talk about an unknowable universe.
She says, “Why…”
He says, “Sweet Potato…”
They are given to sudden realizations.

 

 

 

 

Marcelle Heath is assistant editor of Luna Park. Her website is: writingoffisland.wordpress.com

 

 

[Above image is "Left Ascension" by Ernest Williamson from the premiere issue of Corium.]

 

PERMANENT LINK


Strong Recommendations
May 19, 2010

A Review of Gulf Coast 22.1, Winter/Spring 2010

GREG WEISS

 

 

Gulf Coast 22.1 is very good, particularly its prose. Unusually—at least in my experience—its two best prose pieces are supplied by its fiction and nonfiction contest-winners: Dana Kinstler and Kelly Blikre. Kinstler’s “Bird in My Throat” tells the story, from Ava’s, the wife's, perspective, of a young, seemingly privileged 1960s couple who move down to Mexico after college so that the husband, Malcolm, can work for the federal government and sell and traffic drugs. It is a testament to Kinstler’s reserve that all of this pleasant-seeming exotic adventure—sex, guns, drugs—is nothing more than an acceptable background for her understated depiction of the relatively rapid disintegration of Ava and Malcolm’s marriage. “Bird in My Throat” is an example of the often referred to but rarely written story in which you know the end, essentially, from the very beginning, and that this not only doesn’t ruin the story but makes it better.[...continue reading]

 

 

[Above image is the cover of Gulf Coast 22.1, Winter/Spring 2010]

 

PERMANENT LINK


Whimsy
May 7, 2010

A Reflection on March's Online Fiction

DAVID BACKER

 

 

Amy HempelMarch was a march of whimsy.(1) It started when Amy Hempel shook Fictionaut's tectonic plates when she posted "In The Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried." This story got the most hits of any other story in that electronic community: 930 and growing, with 35 comments. (2) The content of the comments are telling. In awe and almost sycophantically, I heard the voice of the online fiction world resoundingly claim the legitimacy of Hempel's style. I thought, "This is indicative of something." But what?

Let’s start with her style and then see what it indicates. When I first read the story, I thought it was just a series of absurd, well-placed swatches of color.[...continue reading]

 

 

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You Girls (pt. 2)
April 28, 2010

You Girls (part two of two)

HELEN SEDGWICK

 

 

helen sedgwickThere was a documentary recently shown on television about the life of Beethoven. It was an interesting program that, among other things, showed Beethoven to have been cruel and abusive to several female members of his family. In a discussion about the program afterwards, a friend told me that she wished she hadn’t watched it at all. For her, this new understanding of Beethoven’s character had spoiled his music. I was surprised. I don’t doubt that Beethoven was an arrogant and violent misogynist, but his repertoire still contains some of the most beautiful and uplifting pieces that I know. For me, the music is separate from the man.

And so, when writing about issues of gender in the publishing industry, I think a distinction first has to be made. Do I wish to consider the representation of women in literature, or am I discussing the treatment and attitudes of individuals working within the industry? [...continue reading]

 

 

Also: "You Girls (pt. 1)"—from the other half of Fractured West.

 

 

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You Girls (pt. 1)
April 20, 2010

You Girls (part one of two)

KIRSTY LOGAN

 

kirsty loganI am called Kirsty and my co-editor is called Helen. Our names are displayed on our magazine's website. Our names are women's names.

Generally, this is not an issue. I do not know if writers notice or care that they are submitting work to a magazine run by two women. However, occasionally writers find it necessary to make note of our gender. They use phrases like "'you ladies wanted to read more of my work" or "perhaps you girls will like this story."

I'm sure none of the people who write these phrases are reading this essay, but if they are I'd like to make it clear that if you use such a phrase, I will not like your story. This is true in the same way that I will not like your story if it features dragons or World War I, or if it contains the words akin or ponder. It's not that I'll reject your story just because I don't like you; it's that the presence of certain elements (such as "you girls," or dogs, or funerals) set off my Bad Writer Radar. Rejection is nothing personal, except that this time maybe it is a bit personal, because you just made it personal.[...continue reading]

 

 

Forthcoming: "You Girls (pt. 2)"—notes from the other half of Fractured West.

 

 

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The Future of the Lit Mag
April 7, 2010

Come see Luna Park and some other, more prominent, editors talk about the future of the lit mag at the AWP conference in Denver this week.

AWP Poster: The Future of the Lit Mag

 

 

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Between Earnestness & Irony
April 1, 2010

Review of The Laurel Review, Vol. 43, No. 2 (Summer 2009)

GREG WEISS

 

 

The Laurel ReviewPrevious to this issue, I last read The Laurel Review in 2000—Volume 34, Number 1. The Laurel Review has improved in the last nine years, or at least moved closer to my taste, but is still a bit too straitlaced, Raymond Carver earnest for me. More than any other quality, the fiction and poetry in both that and this issue are united by a seriousness of purpose that disallows irony. For instance, Ted Kooser's “A Courthouse Ledger” in the 2000 issue:

 

These ink strokes, like wisps of brown hair

from ninety years ago[...continue reading]

 

[Above image is a past cover of The Laurel Review.]

 

 

PERMANENT LINK


People Like People
March 23, 2010

Highlights from February's Online Fiction

DAVID BACKER



rubber bandAfter reading a lot of online fiction last month, I'm noticing something: people like people. People like reading about people, anyway.But this isn't carefully said. "People" is too general a term for what I mean. Having studied some philosophy, I know that when we talk this way we use the universal quantifier. But if we're talking specifically we use the existential quantifier. To explain: Imagine a corral of horses and two cowboys conversing. One has his back to the corral and the other faces it. The first cowboy says, "Yup, all them horses is brown." The second one says, "But look, that one there's black." The first cowboy uses the universal quantifier. He refers to the whole group without looking directly at any specific one. The second cowboy looks at one particular horse, naming it "that one." He uses the existential quantifier. This kind of talk, existential quantification, is talk about specific qualities. Individuals. Not theorizing or generalizing like the first kind of talk.

So when I say that people like reading about people I mean that people like reading about individuals. They like details. They like blood and grit and personality. They don't like back-turned abstraction and theory. They like lives. Individuals. Existences. They like to read about "that one," not "those." [continue reading]

 

[Above image is a rubber band, a graphic from "Friends and Relatives of Rubber" at Metazen.]

 

 

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The Cellist's Disorientation
March 17, 2010

Cave Wall issue 6Along with Jennifer Atkinson's poem, "A Leaf from the Book of Cities"—discussed on this site last month—Stephen Frech's similarly ekphrastic poem "The Near Tender" caught my attention in the most recent issue of Cave Wall, so I wrote to Frech and asked if he would give me 50 or so words on the piece. Here's what he said:

“The Near Tender” began as an effort to understand the title, which came to me as a misreading of a newspaper headline. When I realized my mistake, I wondered about its meaning. 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. In the cellist’s disorientation, he hears a marvelous music that he is the likely source of. I was heartened to learn that over the beautiful French horn section of his 5th Symphony Tchaikovsky wrote on his draft “O, how I love you!  O, my love!”, a mysterious reference, but a beautiful, aching music now a part of the tenderness that’s made for us.

Below is Frech's poem from the issue.

 

The Near Tender

Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony, conducted by Paavo Järvi

 

i.

 

Tonight at the symphony, the cellist collapses

to the stage: he and his instrument lie face-down

like children through the summer

counting while their friends hide...[continue reading]

 

[Above image is the cover of Cave Wall 6]

 

 

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Translocal Lit
March 16, 2010

DESMOND KON ZHICHENG-MINGDE

Interview (with Soundtrack) with Megan M. Garr, Editor of Versal

 

Desmond Kon reading Versal Seven

 

Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé: It’s a wet 4.33am in Singapore, and I’m plugged in to Motohiro Nakashima’s “Duck Pond Evening.” Versal Seven is beside me, to the opening poem by Lizzi Thistlethwayte, and its lines:

through the scratch and the song thrush

lay you down yourself
a rope

tight to the sea bed

This interview is about how Versal Seven has been a large part of my life in the last three months. It was the first journal I received in the mail after I returned to Singapore from five years in America, and it’s been my trusty companion. I have it in my bag everywhere I go. With all my books on a container ship on some ocean, I’ve enjoyed interacting with one journal with such intensity. Now, I’d like to know how it all began all those years ago, of putting together Netherland’s only English-language literary print journal.

Megan Garr: It’s a casual story with the usual suspects: lonely writers, a foreign town, alcohol. When I moved to Amsterdam in 2001, no literary community existed that was accessible to foreign residents. I was surprised. Naïve, I guess, that Amsterdam would be like what I thought Paris would be like; well, really that all great European cities would have these shadowy expatriate writers in bars, some sense of international literary exchange that was going somewhere. I grew up as a poet within strong literary communities, and finding none here, I decided to build one. Versal and our community work all started in an effort to extend Amsterdam’s literary spirit with the international reach it already had, but wasn’t using...[continue reading]

 

Read our earlier article on Versal Seven here.

 

[Top image is the author reading Versal Seven, the cover of which is the image after.]

 

 

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There Is No Visible Circus
February 16, 2010

Cave Wall issue 6Jennifer 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, so I wrote to Atkinson and asked if she would give me 50 or so words on the piece. I asked her what, if anything, in Klee's painting inspired her to write the poem. Here's what she said:

Paul Klee, painter and teacher of painting, wrote that “Art does not reproduce what is visible, but makes things visible.” I took his advice to heart. In the painting that gives this poem its name, there is no visible circus or tent or torn handbills, but there is a simple circle sun at the top and a stylized city of rickety, ready-to-fall buildings below. If the circus does come to Klee’s cunieform-built city, I wouldn’t advise attending.

Below is Atkinson's poem from the issue.

 

A Leaf from the Book of Cities

after Paul Klee 
 

                    It is between the hours,

      the bells in the mouths of the steeples emptied.

      Signs are posted everywhere, torn handbills

      —TRAPEZE!  LIONS IN CAGES!  TATTOOED SNAKES,

      SHAVED BEARS!  PINK DOGS ON HORSEBACK!

      Straw bits stipple the alleyways...[continue reading]

 

[Above image is the cover of Cave Wall 6]

 

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Questions of Authenticity
February 2, 2010

MICHAEL COPPERMAN

 

Kids in Delta at Carver Elementary

 

 

The email from the editor of the literary journal started out promisingly enough, noting that they liked my story very much. I knew that couldn’t be all, for the story I’d submitted was a dialect piece, and I knew from long experience that no editor would accept a story deploying a form of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) without some confirmation of authenticity: they would try to verify my racial background and personal history, especially in the absence of publications I didn’t possess because no editor would accept a story written in AAVE without…guarantees. And there it was:

Our editors have concerns about how you colonize this young girl’s voice.

I took a deep breath, wishing polemic came easier to me, and started to type...[continue reading]

 

[Above image is a photograph from Copperman's old blog of students from Carver Upper Elementary School.]

 

 

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Community and the Body
January 26, 2010

SHERISSE ALVAREZ

 

Dialogue is the locale where both tension and connection can be present simultaneously; it is the site for both struggle and love.

-Layli Phillips, The Womanist Reader

 

As a writer, I have thought a lot about "community" and what it means.  I am often hyper-aware of my identities as I write: female, gay, Cuban-American, daughter of exiles. These identities have informed, situated, and contextualized my creative work.  However, at times it has meant isolating parts of myself and the literary community seemed to reinforce that. As a result, a few years ago when I was in college and had become very interested in women’s studies in particular, I stopped writing for a short time and turned my attention to yoga, meditation, and Buddhism. In the texts I studied, I was being challenged to think about impermanence, emptiness, non-duality, things we rarely discussed in academia but which had always concerned me. I suspected this “pause” would change my view of and approach to making art.

It was by examining the ways in which the principles of womanism intersect with yogic philosophy and practice that I began to discover new ways of engaging the body. In The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: “The word yoga (union) implies duality (as in the joining of two things or principles); the result of yoga is the nondual state.” This became a point of entry back into my writing.  I wanted to explore the personal/political/poetic while moving towards embodiment as a writer. I had decided to become a yoga instructor and one of the phrases I learned was “yield before push.” This seemed to be directly related to creative work. Observe first, then articulate. Let the work (like the breath) guide and support you.

Becoming young ideas on gender book coverSo what does it mean to write about race, gender, class, sexuality and stay grounded in the body, in one’s desire for psychic/spiritual health? How can a literary community support this? During and after college I did work within the queer community (publishing work in Becoming: Young Ideas on Gender, Identity, and Sexuality edited by Diane Anderson-Minshall (Philadelphia, PA: Xlibris Press, 2004) and Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology edited by Amy Sonnie (Los Angeles, CA: Alyson Publications, 2000). I have come to believe that identity as we define it, the binaries—gay/straight, black/white, male/female—matter and they also don’t matter. The personal narratives associated with these identities certainly matter but the classifications don’t. The classifications marginalize (and isolate) us and I often explore this question of marginality within the work. In this way, what is under the surface of the work becomes part of the work. As I reveal to a reader my relationship to identity, I also reveal it to myself. It is often on the page that these discoveries are made...[continue reading]

 

[Above images are the cover for Becoming: Young Ideas on Gender, Identity, and Sexuality and Audre Lorde’s, The Uses of the Erotic.]

 

 

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Male Publishing
January 19, 2010

The idea for a series on race, class, gender, and sexuality evolved organically from reading literary magazines, blogs, sites, small and large press catalogs, reviews, best of lists, and the like. Discussions about these issues are robust within the academy, and I wanted to respond to how they surface in literary communities. There were two watershed moments this past year that provided an opportunity to engage in this dialogue. In August 2009, Roxane Gay, assistant editor for PANK, posted “Awkward Stuff: Race, Women, Writers, Editors,” decrying the scarcity of writers of color and women writers in independent publishing. While many voices echoed Gay’s concerns and conveyed their own similar experiences, others bitterly and aggressively dismissed her claims outright. In November, Publishers Weekly published their Best Books of 2009, which did not include any women writers. Again, the responses ran the gamut between outrage at the pervasive sexism within the publishing industry, and hostility towards those who claimed that the omission of women was anything but merit-based. Our intention is to explore how exclusionary practices dominate the publishing landscape and how writers and editors respond to such practices. To begin our series Roxane Gay addressed the numerous comments on her post in “I Don't Know How to Write About Race.”

In our second installment, below, we talk with Jarrett Haley, editor of BULL: Fiction for Thinking Men about masculinity, violence, gendered divisions of labor, and PW’s list.

—Marcelle Heath

 

*

 

BULL logoMarcelle Heath: As a literary magazine devoted to “Men’s Fiction,” you’ve published some fine stories by writers who address dominant notions of masculinity in their work. For example, in Sean Sullivan’s “My Father’s .45” the specter of violence in masculinity is portrayed through the narrator’s cleaning his father’s gun. In “The Winner” by G.C. Perry, the narrator is the silent and repressed father who refuses to help his wife. What are your thoughts on how masculinity functions in these stories?

Jarrett Haley: That I am not a sociologist or gender-studier by trade I should make clear to begin with. This should be obvious given that masculinity—as I see and feel it—I can best describe as some kind of nebulous something at work inside men, a thing of pride and comfort and at times anxiety, no doubt a big influence but ultimately something quiet, unexamined, generally unspoken of or at least spoken around, which I don’t think is altogether a bad thing. I find it kind of interesting in its vagueness, in the way these stories you mention, like others in BULL, make no grand statement about masculinity but just glance at a certain aspect or consideration.

Fathers have a lot to do with it of course, much more than I dare to dive into, but “My Father’s .45” is a prime example. And yeah, there’s violence in that story, but I consider that somewhat case-specific; I think a more universal notion is that of the permanently looming father—the physical loom in one’s youth becoming psychological later in life. The pressure to fulfill—whether put upon or self-originating—I think is widely relatable as opposed to the violence.  In my own case I can’t think of a kinder guy than my old man, but as I sit idly at this computer screen and think of him at my age and his worldwide exploits in the Navy, it’s like the story goes—“I know that he’s behind me and always will be.”

As for “The Winner,” I think it’s charitable to call the narrator “silent and repressed,” as I see that guy as an outright jerk. I suppose he could stand to represent a bastardized form of masculinity, an exaggerated (or not) example of the old guard. But in a story so short I take it that everything is amplified, and I see him essentially as a caricature of that prehistoric mindset, drawn to effect the irony at the end—that what he’s “won” is only a household full of anguish. ...[continue reading]

 

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Panorama Week: Part 5
January 15, 2010

Part 5: All the News

McSweeney's Panorama issueNow we come to the end, and, in the end, what we buy newspapers for is the news. Other print matter we buy for other reasons, things such as novels, literary magazines, comic books & so forth. Newspapers are for the news, and so it is good to see that there is a lot of it in The Panorama. Though, as this is an experimental newspaper, the news is much different than you would find in your typical daily edition—and I'll get into how it is different in a second. Also, it is much more varied than can be fully expressed here, in writing style and subject matter. Why is it so varied? I suppose because the newspaper is an experiment; they experimenting. Also, different reading audiences want different things. And McSweeney's is trying to give an example of a type of paper that can attract more readers than the typical ones do. All newspapers seem to attempt variance of one level or another. The Panorama is perhaps just a high degree of it. But I digress....[continue reading]

 

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Panorama Week: Part 4
January 14, 2010

Part 4: The Comics

McSweeney's Panorama issueAs I've been reading through The Panorama this past week (see posts 1, 2, and 3) and recording my reading experience, I realized that most of my associations with newspapers date back to my childhood twenty or so years ago, and, more specifically, to my father. This realization came earlier this morning as I read through The Panorama's comic seciton. I wonder: Are comics so infused with memories of childhood and the smell of toast for everyone?...[continue reading]

 

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Panorama Week: Part 3
January 13, 2010

Part 3: Section One (or The News)

McSweeney's Panorama issueThe name “San Francisco Panorama” is emblazoned across the top half of the front page of the newspaper in a chunky, Chris Ware like (or actual Chris Ware?) font: a tall, imposing font with a sense of humor. Like a comic strip. Already, The Panorama is reaching into other genres than just those newspapers are typically relagated to. Just look at the front pages of The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, for example—the rhetoric there screams news. The rhetoric of The Panorama's front page exists instead somewhere in between The Grey Lady and Looney Toons' Acme....[continue reading]

 

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Panorama Week: Part 2
January 12, 2010

Part 2: The Book Review of the Future?

McSweeney's Panorama issueThat's what Gregory Cowles called The Panorama's book review section yesterday in the NYTimes Paper Cuts blog—a side project of their own book review section. And I guess that is what this Panorama thing is supposed to represent: something from the future, something about what newspapers could be. But Cowles seems to miss the point just a bit regarding what The Panorama's book review section is actually arguing, which I'll get to a little further on. Cowles is nonetheless right about one newspaper reading habit, at least for this reader:

Last month, when I received my copy of The San Francisco Panorama—also known as McSweeney’s No. 33, or the “newspaper issue”—I did the same thing you presumably do when The Sunday Times hits your doorstep: I went right for the book review....[continue reading]

 

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Panorama Week: Part 1
January 11, 2010

This week, Luna Park will be posting a day-by-day reading of McSweeney's recent newspaper-styled issue 33, The San Francisco Panorama. Our copy just arrived in the mail a week ago, so we are, honestly, getting a bit of a late start here, but hoping to make that up with duration of coverage. Honestly, the issue is so big, that there is too much to cover in one go. Already there has been a lot of talk about the issue, both good and bad. Some say it is a masterpiece of compelling design. Others say it doesn't do anything to represent the enduring power of the newspaper (which was a portion of its purpose). LP won't take sides, at least not yet. For the next five days LP will go page by oversized page through the contents of the issue in an attempt to to give a representation of the reading experience of The Panorama. If you have a copy of your own, then by all means follow along. If not, then maybe these next few days can be a first, in-depth look into what is surely an unprecedented publishing event for a literary magazine.

 

*

 

Part 1: Opening the Package

McSweeney's Panorama issueThe Panorama showed up in the mail last week in a white plastic envelope, inside of which was the newspaper issue itself, tucked again inside a super-sized ziploc bag. It took a minute to get the thing out of the layers of packaging. Maybe it was because it arrived so soon after Christmas, but the opening up of The Panorama's package felt more like opening a gift than it felt like opening the mail—even Luna Park mail, which is mostly made up of magazines like McSweeney's. The wrapping itself wasn't Christmasy—it was fairly bland, actually—but the thing inside was big, colorful, and awkward. (After looking at the unwrapped newspaper, my nine-year old daughter said, "Is that just one paper, or many?" Just one, I said. "That's a really big paper," she said, stepping back.)...[continue reading]

 

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Luna Digest, 1/5
January 5, 2010

Luna Park contributing writer Nick Ripatrazone has written a great essay on the use of literary magazines in the classroom:

I teach public high-school English full-time. My schedule includes advanced and introductory creative writing courses, as well as a course called Advanced Placement Literature and Composition. I use contemporary literary magazines in all of my courses as often as possible, and—at least based on my perception of student performance and the feedback from alumni—to a fair amount of pedagogical success. Sure, it’s important for students to read Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and Flannery O’Connor’s “Parker’s Back,” but it’s also important for them to know that both writers had published work in The Kenyon Review, among other literary magazines. The Pynchons and O’Connors of the present are doing the same—and it would be a short-sighted injustice to avoid the good work accumulating in these “little magazines” and instead pining for and discussing in classrooms the latest novel release.

On that note, CLMP’s Literary Magazine Adoption Program for Creative Writing Students is now live. Go sign up.

One of the more interesting literary magazine discussions to come about in recent months has happened via email, twitter feeds, and blogs...[continue reading]

 

 

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Christmas Card from Electric Literature
December 21, 2009

Christmas Card

ETGAR KERET

Translated by Sondra Silverston

 

There was this guy who could walk on water. Not that that's such a big deal. Lots of people can walk on water. They usually don't know that because they don't try. They don't try because they don't believe they can do it. In any case, that guy believed, and tried and did it. And that's when the whole mess began.

Christ mosaicThat guy had an apostle who was very close to him and sold him out. Not that that's such a special thing either. Lots of people are sold out by someone very close to them. If they weren't very close, then it wouldn't really be considered being sold out, would it. Then the Romans came and crucified the guy. Which, also, isn't very unique. The Romans crucified a lot of people. And not just the Romans. Lots of other nations crucified and killed lots of people. All kinds of people. Ones who performed miracles and even ones who didn't. But that guy, three days after they crucified him, was resurrected. And by the way, even that resurrection thing didn't happen here for the first time, or even the last, for that matter. But that guy, people say, that guy died for our sins. A lot of people die for our sins: greed, jealousy, pride, or other, less well-known sins that haven't been around for such a long time. People die like flies because of our sins and no one bothers to even write a Wikipedia entry about them. But they wrote one about that guy. And not just any old entry, but a really big one with lots of pictures and blue-colored links. Not that a Wikipedia entry is such a big thing. There are dogs that have Wikipedia entries about them. Like Lassie. And there are diseases that have entries there, like scarlet fever and multiple sclerosis. But that guy, they say, unlike multiple sclerosis and Lassie, achieved what he achieved through the power of love. Which is something we've also heard before. After all, there were those four English guys with the hair and the beards too, just like him, except that they were a little less famous, and they sang many songs about love. Two of them are already dead, just like him. And they, by the way, have a Wikipedia entry too. But that guy, there was something special about him. He was the son of God. Except that, actually, all of us are God's children, right? We were born in his image. So what the hell was it about that guy that turned him into such a big deal? Such a big deal that so many people throughout history were saved or killed in his name?...[continue reading]

 

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"Students, Please Open Your [Insert Lit Mag] to Page..."
December 17, 2009

Teachers: Use Literary Magazines

NICHOLAS RIPATRAZONE

 

Literary magazine subscriptions at the classroom level are an educational luxury, not a need.  But that’s not a sufficient excuse.

 

School DaysCan secondary school teachers save literary magazines?  Save might not the best choice: the word presupposes both power in the savior and tremendous need in the recipient.  Perhaps help would work better: yes, secondary school teachers can greatly help literary magazines by inculcating excerpts or whole issues into their curriculum.  The same dictum applies for university professors, of course, but the consideration must be made that secondary school instructors have a wider breadth of influence, as not every student who graduates high school attends college.

I teach public high-school English full-time.  My schedule includes advanced and introductory creative writing courses, as well as a course called Advanced Placement Literature and Composition.  I use contemporary literary magazines in all of my courses as often as possible, and—at least based on my perception of student performance and the feedback from alumni—to a fair amount of pedagogical success.  Sure, it’s important for students to read Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and Flannery O’Connor’s “Parker’s Back,” but it’s also important for them to know that both writers had published work in The Kenyon Review, among other literary magazines.  The Pynchons and O’Connors of the present are doing the same—and it would be a short-sighted injustice to avoid the good work accumulating in these “little magazines” and instead pining for and discussing in classrooms the latest novel release.

Before I go any further, I should admit that I could be doing a much better job in my financial support of literary magazines. I wish I could get classroom subscriptions to the New England Review, The Southern Review, AGNI, and other wonderful journals, 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. I should push for some measure of subscription at the classroom level, and this is certainly a goal for upcoming years...[continue reading

 

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Luna Digest, 12/15
December 15, 2009

Versal magazine issue coverSam Ruddick has a riveting new article up at Luna Park on the new (or fairly new) issue of Versal, an English-language lit mag from Amsterdam. More than simply writing a magazine review, Ruddick uses pieces from the issue to explore how words function in literature and what it is that draws us to melancholy narratives:

Nonetheless, it seems clear that these pieces share an interest in identity and loss. They paint a grim picture of the world. Think of it: if the common experience, the one shared across cultural and geographical borders, is loss, if the “insight… that can be applied everywhere” is only that the one certain and immovable fact of life is loss, it’s a sad, sad world. I would almost call it hopeless. But for some reason I still keep coming back to an image in the closing paragraph of “Suit.” Our narrator tells us that the dealership is having some kind of promotion on Saturday, and imagines herself standing next to a machine that makes bubbles and blows them into the air. They “float out…carried by the currents of passing cars.” Most of them will burst, she says, if not against the silly sign she holds, then against the silly suit she has to wear. But, she says, “some will make it across the street.”

And to those, we attach our hope.

Remember ‘zines? (Okay, so maybe you never forgot, but I’ve been losing touch ever since I moved away from Portland and Powell’s Books.) Michael Berger writes on The Rumpus about a ZineWiki he stumbled upon—and, from it, how he came back around to one of my own favorite magazines from the past: Hermenaut...[continue reading]

 

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Amsterdam in English: Versal 7
December 14, 2009

Aiming High: The Impossible Ambitions of Versal

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.

 

Versal 7 coverThe inside cover of Versal’s 7th issue gives us a clue to the magazine’s aesthetic: the definition of “versal.” As it happens, versal is not only a word for versification, but an abbreviation of universal. In that sense, we might assume that Versal wants to be an umbrella encompassing literary expression and human experience. But versal can also mean “single, individual, (or) rare,” and in that sense, the magazine wants to print work that sets itself apart not only in stylistic terms, but in its emphasis on the individual—or, more specifically, the “I.”

In her introduction to the 7th issue, editor Megan M. Garr uses the term “translocal literature” to describe the loose category of writing she’s concerned with. But the idea the word “translocal” suggests may be misleading. It’s true that Versal crosses a number of physical borders. Printed in Amsterdam, it showcases stories and poems by writers working in a number of locales. Garr herself is an American living abroad (also, in Amsterdam). But in spite of all this, Versal doesn’t seem much interested in place. Displacement, perhaps, and certainly identity—but what “translocal” writers can offer, Garr claims, is really “insight into the translocal line that can then be applied everywhere.”

It’s an ambitious goal—and probably an impossible one—but at a time when literary, academic, political, and cultural discourse seems focused on difference, I find the optimism refreshing. And, inasmuch as it is possible, Versal delivers. Its emphasis on identity and displacement illuminates the individuality of the I, and highlights, in a general way, the emotional experiences we share.

Who’s we? Well, that’s a little more complicated. I can only give you a few examples, and hope my effort to connect the dots makes sense...[continue reading]

 

[Above image is the cover of Versal 7]

 

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Luna Digest, 12/8
December 8, 2009

‘Tis the season to support small presses. Once again HTMLGIANT is hosting its Annual Indie Lit Secret Santa. Lots of indie publishers like The Lifted Brow and Keyhole have already begun offering up special offers for Secret Santa participants. Here are some details:

From now till December 15, sign up to play Secret Santa at HTMLGiant. It’s easy! On the sign-deadline, you will find out your recipient and her or his address, and by Christmas (it’s December 25, this year, I think), send them a book from an indie press or a subscription to an indie mag. And you get one too! Sounds like it was a great success last year, and it’s sure to be this year, too.

McSweeney's San Francisco Panorama coverToday’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. (Click image at right for more details.) Flavorwire put up some last minute news on the event along with a brief interview with publisher Oscar Villalon.

Though not a literary magazine, exactly, this is not to be missed: The New Yorker has published an excerpt of David Foster Wallace’s forthcoming posthumous novel Pale King. (Via Flavorwire.) Here’s how it starts:

Once when I was a little boy I received as a gift a toy cement mixer. It was made of wood except for its wheels—axles—which, as I remember, were thin metal rods. I’m ninety per cent sure it was a Christmas gift. I liked it the same way a boy that age likes toy dump trucks, ambulances, tractor-trailers, and whatnot. There are little boys who like trains and little boys who like vehicles—I liked the latter.

The translation of Maupassant’s story “A Parisian Affair” in the new Five Dials 8b starts with the intriguing line: “Is there any keener sense known to man than woman’s curiosity?"...[continue reading]

 

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Luna Digest, 12/3
December 3, 2009

Electric Literature logoFor 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. The event was interesting to say the least, and response ranged from excitement to annoyance. Was the publishing event a success? It really depends on your perspective. Here’s a list of some of the more interesting responses that came out as the tweets were still rolling in: Carolyn Kellogg on Jacket Copy, Ryan Call on HTMLGIANT, Dennis Johnson on MobyLives, Patrick Brown for Vroman’s Bookstore. and Moody himself in discussion with The Brooklyn Ink.

Luna Park is looking for submissions from editors and writers for our upcoming series on issues of Race, Class, Gender & Sexuality in independent publishing—an idea that arrived largely in response to a piece we published earlier this year by Roxane GayOn Race and Publishing“). Below is more from assistant editor Marcelle Heath:

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, and sexism? Email Marcelle Heath at lunaparkonline@gmail.com.

Reality Hunger book coverAfter last week’s post about excerpts from David Shields’s upcoming book Reality Hunger: A Manifesto in literary magazines such as A Public Space and PEN America, the editors of Knee-Jerk alerted me to the fact that they are publishing seven parts of the book, and have already published five along with an interview with Shields. (I also stumbled upon a great write-up of the book and where to find excerpts of it on The Millions.)

New England Review has published in their newest issue an absolutely fantastic group of writing about and by editor and writer Ted Solotaroff, who passed away in 2008. Solotaroff was founding editor of New American Review, one of the most successful and influential literary magazines of the late sixties and early seventies, publishing such now famous works as A. Alvarez on Sylvia Plath and an early draft of Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint. The NER issue includes a portion of Solotaroff’s unpublished final memoir covering his early days in the publishing world and remembrances by Robert Stone, Allegra Goodman, Robert Chohen, and many others...[continue reading]

 

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Rick Moody's Twitter Fiction
November 30, 2009

Electric Literature OutletThis morning at 10:00 AM we began co-tweeting Rick Moody's "Some Contemporary Characters," the author's new twitter story from Electric Literature. Possibly the first twitter story ever? Here's the first line:

"There are things in this taxable and careworn world that can only be said in a restrictive interface with a minimum of characters."

More on the event at Future Perfect Publishing.

Follow the entire story—140 characters at a time.

 

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Luna Digest, 11/24
November 24, 2009

A Public Space 8We are taking a break from Luna Digest for the holiday, but I couldn’t help at least mentioning this:

I’ve been stumbling across some great excerpts recently from David Shields’s upcoming book Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (a book previously mentioned/excerpted already on this blog by Shields himself, “David Shields: Reality Hunger“). For example, yesterday I picked up a copy of the most recent A Public Space at Borders and found a thrilling excerpt about fiction and truthfulness from Reality Hunger. Then, this morning, I received a review copy of PEN America and inside is yet another excerpt from Shields’s book, this time a section about mimesis: “The origin of the novel lies in its pretense of actuality.”

Much intrigued, I popped Shields’s name into Google in the hopes of finding an excerpt for this post and also to get more information in general...[continue reading]

 

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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”

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