Posts By: Deborah Kim

“New writers to shake us and take us out to sea”

I’d like to introduce you to IR‘s dynamite new staff: Jennifer Luebbers takes the helm as Editor, and Katie Moulton is Associate Editor, Joe Hiland is Fiction Editor, Michael Mlekoday is Poetry Editor, Justin Wolfe is Nonfiction Editor, and Doug Paul Case is our first-ever Web Editor. I’m sad to leave my post, but I’m absolutely thrilled about the incoming team. I can’t wait to see what’s next for IR—it’s going to be a phenomenal year.

 

1. Why are literary journals significant?

MM: Tons of reasons! Literary journals are the vanguards of literature—they are where readers and writers first meet up, where our community comes together. Without journals, we’re just a bunch of rugged individualists, carrying only our own poems and stories and essays with us. Then we’re just landlocked, because it takes more than one branch to build a boat. Is that true? I don’t know. The great variety of journals being made and read right now means we can always find new inspiration, new writers to shake us and take us out to sea.

JW: I don’t know.  In historical terms, I can understand their importance, but in terms of right now, I’m really not actually sure?  I know that, in my experience, IR has been an important center to our literary community in Bloomington, but outside of that, I can’t say much else.  I’m sure former and future editors will be able to mount a rousing case for the continued cultural relevance of the literary journal, but I come from a blogging background and have, since I’ve been familiar with them, been resistant to what I perceive as the insularity of little magazines, the walled garden effect.  One of the reasons that I’ve taken this position is to try to break down or at least inform that resistance of mine, to better understand what a magazine like IR really does and what it means to our larger literary culture.  In other words: hopefully I’ll have a better answer this time next year?

DPC: Because they’re the future! It seems like everyone is bemoaning the death of literary journals, but while print might be fading, there are many, many online journals thriving and doing the same things literary magazines have always been doing: showing us the future of literature. Find me an important poet or story writer who wasn’t published first in a literary journal and I will buy you a cookie. If you’re interested in the trajectory of literature, you should be reading journals.

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“What it is that moves and thrums”

At the IR Editors Showcase, we were presented with some challenging, excellent questions. I asked our outgoing and incoming genre editors to respond, and I’ve corralled their answers for you. Today, we have Fiction Editor Rachel Lyon, Poetry Editor Cate Lycurgus, and Nonfiction Editor Sarah Suksiri!

 

1. Why are literary journals significant?

RL: I think the most meaningful thing to me about lit journals is that they’re a way of forming community without necessarily sharing a space. We can read the work of other writers, and feel close to them, and participate in the dialogues that interest us with people whose work we respect, without being in the same city or state or country. Plus, because they are curated by editors who know something about what’s going on in their field, the quality of work tends to be higher.

CL: Literary publications are a testament to the power of the imagination and the power of language, both of which are undervalued, yet necessary parts of our lives–in order to innovate, to make sense of the nonsensical, to connect with others, to provide wonder or surprise or consolation or astonishment. Literary journals have the potential to find this expression and to share it.

SS: Journals are significant, because they make us keep asking this question. Seriously, what other line of work and craft is there where the participants keep asking themselves, “Is anything that we’re doing relevant?” The fact that we (journals) are so concerned with what it is that moves and thrums in the world is part of what makes us relevant.

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Inside IR: Meet the Editors

This week, we finally hear from our marvelous Nonfiction Editor, Sarah Suksiri, who shares with us her delight for innovative nonfiction.

Where is home?

A little suburb in the Silicon Valley where there is plenty of good Vietnamese food and rush hour traffic.

Favorite issue of IR?

Our Winter 2011 issue. It has a good haul of nonfiction writers — possibly the most IR has ever published!

Tell us about what you’re reading right now.

I’m reading Scott Russell Sanders’ latest collection of essays, Earth Works, which I have to put down between every other essay because it makes me want to go for long walks.

What are you excited to see in nonfiction?

I get excited about creative and journalistic nonfiction exhibited in elegant, accessible online forms that do the work justice, like Wave CompositionThe Junketand The New Inquiry, or even blogs as a form of creative nonfiction, fused beautifully with other multimedia, like Ian Coyle’s Edits. I’m excited that there seems to be a very hungry audience for nonfiction, and that there are so many people who want to participate in other people’s experiences by reading about them. I’m also excited  for our new Nonfiction Editor, Mal Hellman, to take the reins and make IR nonfiction even better.

Round-Up

We’ve got some merry news. This spring, Q Ave Press will publish Heather June Gibbons‘s chapbook, Flyover! We’re lucky enough to feature her poem, “Memory is a Bull Market,” forthcoming in IR 34.1.

 

 

 

 

We’d also like to extend our sincerest congratulations to 30.2 contributor Greg Wrenn! His first book of poems, Centaur, won the 2013 Brittingham Prize in Poetry and will be published in February 2013 by the University of Wisconsin Press.

 

 

 

▶ And check out this list of “Literary Heirs” by Stephen Heyman in the NYT, a flashy and substantial gathering of excellent literary magazines.

▶ In case you missed it: “A Publisher’s Menagerie: Stories behind Publishers’ Animal Logos” by Elisabeth Watson.

▶ We eagerly await The Morning News 2012 Tournament of Books which starts next month.

▶ AWP is less than three weeks away! Will you be there?