Letter from the Editor

Issue Forty-Nine: August 2013


Welcome to Issue Forty-Nine of The Collagist, our fourth anniversary issueas well as my last issue as editor, which also marks the official end of my three-plus years as the senior editor at Dzanc Books.

The Collagist is also saying goodbye to two other prized colleagues: To pursue new and exciting opportunities elsewhere, Joseph Scapellato is stepping down as blog editor and Bess Winter is leaving her position as the editor of our podcast and our creative audio section. Both Joe and Bess have been amazing contributors to the magazine's success, and I wish them nothing but luck in their own writing and their other future adventures.

Starting today, the editors-in-chief of The Collagist will be founding poetry editor Matthew Olzmann and new fiction editor Gabriel Blackwell, who has been our book review editor since Issue Fourteen. Taking over the book review section from Gabe is frequent Collagist book reviewer Michael Jauchen, and former poetry contributor Rachelle Cruz will be joining the magazine as its new podcast editor. The blog editor position has been filled by Elizabeth Morris, who has already been a great contributor to the blog, where she's conducted interviews with many of our writers. (One thing I've always loved about The Collagist: Every new section editor we've ever added has been a former contributor.) This is an extraordinarily talented and dedicated group of editors, and I'm excited to pass the magazine on to them. I can't wait to see how they make The Collagist their own, starting next month with Issue Fifty.

The fiction section of The Collagist was the part of the magazine I was most personally responsible for, and so for my last issue I decided to invite a number of my favorite former fiction contributors to submit again. Many of the fiction writers in this month's issue have been in the magazine several times in the past, and I think their work strongly represents the best hopes I had for The Collagist. As a group, they have many outstanding qualities, but perhaps the most important of these shared qualities is that they are all writers whose work takes true risks with both language and content, story after impressive story. I'm so grateful to have their work in the magazine again, and proud this month to present new fiction from returning contributors Brian Evenson, Tina May Hall, Robert Kloss, Sarah Norek, Amanda Goldblatt, Brian Kubarycz, Evelyn Hampton, David Hollander, Amber Sparks, Robert Lopez, Kate Petersen, Jonathan Callahan, and Kate Wyer.

This month, we're also excited to present excerpts from Rockaway by Tara Ison (Soft Skull Press) and Horse Latitudes by Morris Collins (MP Publishing), as well as an animated video excerpt from Activities by John Dermot Woods (Publishing Genius). In poetry, we have new work by Diana Khoi Nguyen, Nathan McClain, Audra Puchalski, and Stevie Edwards, and our non-fiction this month comes from Josh MacIvor-Andersen.

Our book review section contains coverage of Why We Never Talk About Sugar by Aubrey Hirsch (reviewed by Lori Wald Compton), Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel (reviewed by James Orbesen), Trapline by Caroline Goodwin (reviewed by Philip Kobylarz), and Dark March by Colin Fleming (reviewed by Justin Thurman).

I sincerely hope you enjoy our fourth anniversary issue, and I hope you're as excited as I am for the future of The Collagist. Thank you for reading, and for all your support of our efforts and the work of our contributors.


During the four years I've been an editor at The Collagist and at Dzanc Books, I was lucky enough to edit forty-nine issues of The Collagist, as well as twenty-eight novels and short story collections published by Dzanc. It's been an incredible honor to get to work with the hundreds of writers we've published during that time, and I can't count the number of friendships and other valued relationships that have been started by that work. So thank you first to everyone who contributed to The Collagist: We've published somewhere around eight hundred writers in the past four years, and that represents an incredible outpouring of generosity and talent from the literary community toward our magazine. We've only rarely solicited anything, taking almost all of the stories and poems and essays that appear in our pages directly from the general submissions, and we couldn't do that without the gift of so many great writers sending us their latest and greatest work.

At The Collagist, I owe a special thanks to my fellow editors Matthew, Gabe, Bess, and Joe, and to all the other people who have worked on the magazine since its launch: Steven Seighman did the initial design for The Collagist and the layout for the first thirteen issues, and the magazine wouldn't be the same without his talent. Thanks also to current and former blog writers Tyler Gobble, Liana Imam, Marie Schutt, David Bachman, Amber Cook, Melissa Goodrich, Thomas Calder, and William Hoffacker, for all their fine work interviewing almost every contributor we've ever published.

Finally, I owe a great debt to Steven Gillis and Dan Wickett, the founders of Dzanc Books, for allowing me to start The Collagist with them in 2009 and then inviting me to join the press itself as an editor in 2010. It's been an unforgettable four years working beside these two great friends of mine, and I couldn't be more grateful for the faith they put in me and for everything they've done for me. I've never had to learn on the job as quickly as I did at Dzanc, and I'm so grateful to the authors I worked with here, whose novels and story collections and chapbooks have been the finest education a writer and editor could ask for: Roy Kesey, Jac Jemc, Peter Markus, David Ohle, Eugene Marten, Jonathan Baumbach, Joseph McElroy, Merrill Joan Gerber, Aditi Machado, Stephen Graham Jones, J.A. Tyler, Jen Michalski, Sean McGrady, Henning Koch, Scott Carpenter, Luis Jaramillo, Josh Russell, Jennifer Spiegel, Matt Dojny, Jason Ockert, Laura Eve Engel, Adam Peterson, Eugene Cross, David Galef, and Jeff Kass.

I wasn't sure what I'd feel when I was done with this issue, because The Collagist and Dzanc have been a part of my daily life for a long time now. Now that the moment's arrived, I feel—as I hope the above letter shows—more grateful than anything else, happy to have had the honor of serving my literary community in this way. I'm looking forward to finding new ways to serve, but in the meantime, let me just say one more time: It's been an amazing four years here, and I was incredibly lucky to be a part of it. Thanks again to everyone who made it so rewarding.

And now, I'm lucky again, because by next month, when Issue Fifty comes out, I'll finally get to be just another excited reader of The Collagist and of Dzanc Books, and one of the biggest fans of both.

With gratitude,
Matt Bell