Monthly Archives: May 2015

12 Suggestions for Post-Ought Literary Magazines

Simeon Berry
Guest Blog Post by Simeon Berry

I don’t have all the answers about the growing divide between print and online magazines, but I do have a few suggestions:

  1. Advocacy of contributors is important. Those of us who were publishing in the 90s didn’t really expect it, but now we’re getting used to it. Guernica is a fine example of a journal who gets the content out there on social media.
  2. If your magazine has a social presence (which isn’t really optional any more), it should have personality. Your social feed should not be a welter of press releases. Those feeds get hidden faster than the people on Facebook and Twitter who only self-promote or thank others for following/publishing them.
  3. For the love of God, please stop driving authors to post terrible photos of their pages online. It just makes the print-only magazines look (rightly or wrongly) like dinosaurs. Rattle (who releases their entire print issue online in stages) and Song Cave (who makes their chapbooks free to download after the edition sells out) are pointing the way.
  4. Make each piece directly linkable by authors. Scrolling through an entire issue of minuscule text is going to lose you readers.
  5. Leverage the power of print to handle exotic text formatting and/or the ability of the net to provide additional content and functionality.
  6. Magazines only have as much prestige as authors think they do. It seems like the majority of well-established authors haven’t migrated to online magazines because they don’t feel like they need to. This is a boon to print-only journals, but it has an expiration date. Up-and-coming writers are beginning to look to journals for what they can offer in a very practical way, rather than who they publish, because online journals are mostly serving their needs better and allowing them to stock their online library of content. The work that less-established writers have online is ending up being the determining factor for whether or not they get readings, solicitations, etc.
  7. Make sure your magazine looks as good as it can on a smartphone and that the work is searchable by Google. See above comment regarding practical considerations.
  8. Make print journals more than just a way-station for poems on their way to becoming a book. I don’t know exactly how to accomplish this, but I’m sure that lots of editors are thinking furiously about it.
  9. Similarly, make online journals more than just annexes to a writer’s Facebook or Twitter feed. I’m also unsure about how to do this, but it needs to happen. (Hat-tip to Rob Arnold for this observation.)
  10. If your magazine has institutional support, either in the form of funds or teaching relief, start thinking about how you’re going to replace that support if it’s withdrawn. This happened to big name magazines, and no one is safe, especially in the age of the corporate university. If you think your prestige is going to save you, think again. Online publishing isn’t free, but it’s much cheaper than print, and college administrators are going to be asking editors why they can’t switch to that model as budgets shrink and online magazines get more prestigious.
  11. We may not like them, but submission fees are here to stay. More and more magazines are using them every year. It’s an easy and labor-free way of generating revenue for magazines, and it stems the massive tide of submissions that come over the transom without fees. In the past, I always felt guilty about sending to a magazine that I didn’t subscribe to and now I don’t, thanks to submission fees. Plus, online magazines don’t really have an effective subscription model in the same way, and I think the past decade has shown paywalls to be very limited in their effectiveness. If you don’t think a magazine has value, then don’t submit. Right now, because the field is so choked with online magazines and the technology/strategies of those magazines haven’t really started to sort out the wheat from the chaff, it’s not as big an issue, but it will be.
  12. All this stuff is happening very fast, so be prepared to forget what you thought you knew. On that note, feel free to quarrel with me! I’m looking for solutions.

About the Author:

Simeon Berry lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. He has been an Associate Editor for Ploughshares and received a Massachusetts Cultural Council Individual Artist Grant. His first book, Ampersand Revisited (Fence Books), won the 2013 National Poetry Series, and his second book, Monograph (University of Georgia Press), won the 2014 National Poetry Series.

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Writeliving Interview – Richard Garcia

Richard Garcia Author

Richard Garcia, aside from being one of America’s premier poets, is a teacher who has had more impact on my writing than anyone else. His voice is still in my ear  as I work, telling me to take risks, to find the poem outside of the poem you thought you were writing. His students — past and present — love him and his impact goes way beyond his righteous books of poetry.

Martin Ott

Who has been a major influence on your writing?

Many writings I would have read in my late teens and early twenties, the coming of age time. Mostly in a more imaginative mode, Spanish, French, and South American. Surrealism and fabulism. But what made me want to begin in earnest was reading Whispering to Fool the Wind by Alberto Rios. It was very much like I had wanted to write when I had written some years before, and although I was not writing when I read his book, it did make me feel like I could get on the right track. I liked his American, Mexican, playful, dark and serious humor.

Can you give us insight into your creative process?

I was at a reading listening to a poet answer that question and it seemed to me that everything she was describing was part of a ritual. Get up at this time, coffee, go to the place, sharpen the pencil, not just any pencil but the #2 such-and-such, now get the pad that you like to write in… So if you do this every day in just this manner every day, she will come, the muse will come to you.

So many of your former students have had successes of their own. How has being a teacher affected your own writing?

By learning to teach I have learned to teach myself.

What is the best advice you can give to a writer finding her/his voice and subject matter?

Try to ignore your subject matter, your obsessions. Suppress the agenda. Go into the place. Your subject matter will be waiting there for you anyway. It may be in an unfamiliar guise or in disguise, and you won’t recognize it. But don’t worry, it will find you. As for voice remember that you are more than one person. You have voices you don’t know about, and they don’t even know each other.

I loved your prose poem book The Chair. Do you have a different process for writing prose poems?

Sometimes I can’t get the lines right, and then I notice that the narrative has a fable-like quality. Then I know it is a prose poem. The prose poem might be pissed. It coulda been a poem or even a story. But now it knows it won’t get to be in those nice lines and stanzas. And even if it is a story, it will be a story in which nothing happens.

What are you currently working on?

I have been finding poems in my laptop files. It is easier to find poems than to write poems.

Have you read anything recently that really got you excited?

Anything by Terrence Hayes. And I found an article I had lost years ago and searched for online unsuccessfully, until now. It is about a strange garden in Italy. Edmund Wilson, “The Monsters of Bomarzo.”

Can you share an example of overcoming adversity to keep your writing dream alive?

Of course there are the heroes that overcome real trouble. As for myself I think of the adversity of the everyday. Even without outside help I can provide my own adversity. I am my own adversity. Having no adversity can be an adversity.

What is something about you that writers and readers may not know?

I can play the jaw harp. I am really a sensitive guy.

About the Author:

Poet and writer Richard Garcia was born in San Francisco and started writing in his teenage years. He is the author of six books of poetry: The Flying Garcias (University of Pittsburg Press, 1991); Rancho Notorious (BOA Editions, 2001); The Persistence of Objects (BOA Editions, 2006); Chickenhead, a chapbook of prose poems (Foothills Publishing, 2009); The Other Odyssey (Dream Horse Press, 2013); and The Chair (BOA Editions, 2014). He has also written My Aunt Otilia’s Spirits, a bilingual children’s book (Children’s Book Press,1978). He is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Pushcart Prize, the Cohen Award from Ploughshares, the Georgetown Review Poetry Prize, and the American Poetry Journal Book Prize. His poems appear in journals such as The Antioch Review, The Colorado Review, and The Georgia Review, and in several anthologies, among them The Best American Poetry 2005, Touching the Fire, Seriously Funny and The Best of the Prose Poem. From 1991-2002, he was a Poet-in-Residence at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, where he conducted poetry and art workshops for hospitalized children. Garcia teaches creative writing in the Antioch University Low-Residency MFA program. He lives on James Island, South Carolina, with his wife, Katherine Williams, and their dogs Sully and Max.

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