Nicholas Ripatrazone asks, “Is There a Lit Mag in This Class?” Here’s a bit from the middle:
Writers did different things in literary magazines than they did in books. Books were stodgy, hard, spine-formed collections. There seemed little room to breathe within such pages. But literary magazines were athletic, a place for play—serious play, no doubt, but certainly capable of more range. Writers could stretch. Most importantly, as a young writer I felt much more confident with an issue of Boulevard in my hand than one’s collected poems. I certainly needed to be familiar with both, but the possibility that my own work could one day appear in the thinner volume was exactly the confidence I needed to go write, to submit stories for workshop, and to pursue the study of writing.
Though I think Ripatrazone’s essay is necessary and intelligent, I recently discovered that the general argument for lit mags in the classroom isn’t all that new. Curt Johnson—editor of December: A Magazine of the Arts and Opinion from 1962 until his death in 2008—wrote on this same topic for the 1966 issue of College Composition and Communication, arguing astutely:
…if [students] are ever to be persuaded, they must first be shown that writers did not stop writing the day before yesterday and that the English sentence, paragraph, and theme are infinitely malleable. They will not be persuaded of this by the contemporary prose in Playboy, admirable as it is when written by Herbert Gold, nor will they be by that in The Atlantic or Saturday Evening Post, even though this dullard and that desperado both lack the four-color gatefold distraction of Playboy. But if a student’s study of the canon of lit and the hallowed rules of comp can be leavened with writing that was writ yesterday and printed today—good and bad (for it is easier to show structure when the structure shows, is it not, than when it has been artfully concealed by a master? And it is easier to demonstrate the utility of rules when it can be demonstrated that often their neglect results in chaos, is it not?)—if, in short, a little magazine is made a part of the course materials (be the course lit or comp), a student can see that English 102 has relevance beyond his pursuit of a degree.
Getting back to Boulevard—if you’ve been keeping up with the recent MFA discussion over at the London Review of Books and The Rumpus, the latest issue of Boulevard adds another log to the fire, Anis Shivani’s polemically titled “The MFA/Creative Writing System Is a Closed, Undemocratic, Medieval Guild System that Represses Good Writing.” So there.
I don’t know about you
but I go right for the poems
flipping past the stories and essays
not interested in discovering how much time
someone wasted on
the lost cinema of the Netherlands…
The latest issue of Istanbul Literary Review has a host of Fictionauters: Ajay Nair, Jack Swenson, Sam Rasnake, Marcus Speh, Dorothy Lang, Darryl Price, along with our own Marcelle Heath.
Amanda Deo of Thunderclap! Magazine has released a Femme Fatale issue, with very snazy cover by Ryan W. Bradley and writing by Maria Scala, Kat Dixon, Rebecca Schumejda and others. (Deo was recently interviewed by Nicolle Elizabeth on the Fictionaut Blog.) Pay $7 for print, or download the issue for free.
Underwood has made an awesome poster.
The Rumpus has published their first magazine review: Nancy Smith takes a look at the latest issue of Ploughshares, guest-edited by Jim Shepard.
And a fantastic new story by Roxane Gay (in a very strong issue of Guernica), “There Is No “E” in Zombi Which Means There Can Be No You Or We,” beginning:
[Things Americans do not know about zombis:]
They are not dead. They are near death. There’s a difference.
They are not imaginary.
They do not eat human flesh.
They cannot eat salt.
They do not walk around with their arms and legs locked stiffly.
They can be saved.
Every Tuesday, Travis Kurowski presents Luna Digest, a selection of news from the world of literary magazines. Travis is the editor of Luna Park, a magazine founded on the idea that journals are as deserving of critical attention as other artistic works.