Wednesday
Apr132011

Letter from the Editor

Dear Reader,

Hello, and welcome to Issue Twenty-One!

Before I say anything else, a last-minute reminder: April 15th is the very last day to enter the 2011 Collagist Chapbook Contest, the winner of which will be published by Dzanc Books later this year. We are open for entries until 11:59 pm, and will announce the winner announced in our May issue. We've received an enormous amount of entries—far exceeding my original goal—and I'm so grateful to everyone who has already submitted. I've got a lot of reading to do, and couldn't be happier about it.

For complete rules and the links to submit, please click here.

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I've been a little news-heavy in these letters lately, for which I want to apologize: As much as I love all our exciting announcements, I really do want to give you a better reason for opening these letters. This month, I'd like to take a quick second and repost something Blake Butler (whose There is No Year was excerpted in last month's Collagist, and is reviewed in this month's) wrote on his blog a couple years ago, about literary citizenship. It's just as true if not truer today, and is a nice reminder of the kind of attitude it takes as a writer and reader to be a great member of the literary community:

1) When you read something you like, in any form, write the author and tell them. You don’t have to gush or take forever. Just tell them you saw it, you read it, you liked it. It’s a supportive feeling. It’s better than not saying anything.

2) Write reviews of books you like. Short review/long review, whatever. It’s not that hard. It takes a little work to think about it clearly, but what goes around comes around. You can’t expect to be recognized for your work if you aren’t recognizing others for their work. Open the doors.

3) Interview writers. New writers or well known writers. You like somebody’s work a lot? Ask to do an interview with them. It doesn’t take a ton of effort. Write up some questions. Let them talk. Spread the word. Talk. Say. Get. Eat.

4) If you have free time, start an online journal. Start a blog, a review, an anything. If you don’t know how I’ll help you. Say stuff. Mean what you say.

5) If you have a journal already, respond faster. Pay attention to your inbox. When someone asks a question that feels dumb or unnecessary maybe, answer it anyway. Don’t be a fuck. Yeah, we’re all busy. Yeah, things take time. Work to take less time. It’s okay to move forward at a wicked pace. (And yes, as an editor, I too struggle to adhere to this advice, but I struggle at least, everyone struggles, but you can always struggle more. I am so tired of seeing journals with 200+ days response time, why do you even exist? Does it really take that long to like something? People should stop sending to these places. Seriously. Just stop sending.

Yeah I know the flood comes strong. Stand in the flood. (Me too.)

To everyone: Push the fucking envelope even harder than you do. Be an open node.

Thanks to Blake for these words, which inspired me then, and inspire me now. Thanks also to Dennis Cooper for reminding me of them this week. I try my best to do much of the above here at The Collagist, and at my own blog and in my writing elsewhere. It does take a lot of work, but I know it's helped me as a writer and as an editor, as a reader and human being. The literary community I'm a part of—and that Dzanc and The Collagist are both parts of—feels like it's getting stronger every day, and people behaving as above as often as possible will only make it stronger.

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In Issue Twenty-One, you'll find new fiction by Alex Epstein, Kathryn Scanlan, Alex Samets, and Trent England, plus novel excerpts from Rikki Ducornet's Netsuke and Steve Himmer's The Bee-Loud Glade.

In poetry we have work from Joseph O. Legaspi, Brent Goodman, Jenny Johnson, and Brian Simoneau, and our non-fiction this month comes from Christopher Bundy.

Our book review section includes coverage of There is No Year by Blake Butler (reviewed by David Cotrone), The Visiting Suit by Xiaoda Xiao (reviewed by Gro Flatebo), The Correspondence Artist by Barbara Browning (reviewed by Matt Dube), You'd Be a Stranger, Too by Weston Cutter (reviewed by Nick Kocz), and Arrows of Rain by Okey Ndibe, a continuation of Anna Clark's series of reviews of African literature.

As always, thanks to all of our contributors for letting us publish their fine work. Thanks also to everyone who reads the magazine, everyone who sends us submissions, and of course everyone who takes the time to post about the issue to their blogs, Facebook, or anywhere else. We appreciate your time and talents, and can't thank you enough for sharing them with us.

Sincerely,

Matt Bell
Editor
The Collagist