The Lit Mag Archive
by ________Posted on March 14th, 2012 at 1:45 pm
“The little magazine is not difficult to define,” write David Miller and Richard Price:
it is an anthology of work by strangers; an anthology of work by friends; an exhibition catalogue without the existence of the exhibition; a series of manifestos; a series of anti-manifestos…It’s printed by photo-litho; or typed onto a mimeograph stencil…It’s a twenty-year sequence; or it turns out to be a one-off. 1
It is inclusive of a spectrum of literary productivity, bearing simultaneously the weight and gait of outsider and coterie, commercialism and unprofitability, both harbinger and hindsight. One clue to its elusiveness, or effusiveness, is the notion of its distance from a perceived literary norm.
This last element [i.e. “distance from a notional norm”] elides identity politics with poetics; it is in poetics that the “classic” element of the little magazine is encountered. A classic little magazine, in the view of the present authors, publishes the work of a group of artists or writers who assert themselves as a group (e.g. the Surrealist Group of England’s publication of The International Surrealist Bulletin in the mid Thirties) 2
What then could be said to be our contemporary little magazines and small presses? Especially considering the collecting of such small press publications at the institutional level of the poetry archive, or repository. These are some of the issues that arise within “the dynamics of literary publishing” as it stands today. 3
—from To Anthologize the Now Perpetually: The Literary Situation of the Small Press and the Archive by Edric Mesmer at Cordite Poetry Review. Mesmer currently resides in Buffalo, NY, next to one of the nation’s largest literary magazine archives at Buffalo State College.