MEAN WEEK: ‘The Editor/Multi-Book/Duh Named Effect’

Posted by @ 9:28 pm on October 12th, 2008

I like new journals. I like journals with their own aesthetic and who invent themselves primarily because they want to put words in the world: words that likely would not have found a way to get read if that journal hadn’t existed. There can never be too many high quality journals. A node is a node.

Though not all new journals, or even existing things, seem bent for these reasons. It seems semi-frequent, and perhaps most pointed to the world of poetry publishing, where you see a tendency to publish well-known names and no one else. Scanning the contributor notes of certain journals you can often see what I now will call the EDITOR / MULTI-BOOK / DUH NAMED EFFECT.

When this effect is applied, it means the journal has been infected wherein all the words published in their particular nook are 90-100% consisting of writers who are themselves the editor of a journal, who already have one or several full length books out at indie presses, or are a combo of both, being a name that literally most everybody in the publishing world is already very familiar with. They don’t both with searching for new voices, with including some people as yet unexposed who can then be read as others can to the journal seeking the ‘bigger names,’ no, everyone in the journal is someone who likely would have little to no trouble getting their work in almost any existing poetry journal already out there.

So then the question is: Why do you exist?

The most recent culprit of this effect is a new and very nicely designed online mag called FOU, whose tendency toward the Big Dog you can see by scanning their contributor notes page: a list of editors and famous authors.

Really, guys & gals? For real?

Now, I’m definitely not saying publishing known authors is a bad thing, nor is publishing friends, or simply people you respect, especially when the work is strong. I like several if not many if not even a majority of the authors in this first issue (Hicok, Lin, Schomburg, Rohrer, Lasky, Hoy, etc etc etc), and a lot of the writing is really great. But I can’t say that I didn’t snort through my nose a little the first time I saw the line-up: not a SINGLE author who isn’t essentially a household name in the poetry business. Who are you trying to impress? What are you trying to accomplish? Are you the replicator? I am sure the editors who started this magazine likely had all the best intentions, but I just have to say, in the spirit of mean week and the dead-on honest curve I hope it will entail, that if you aren’t out there putting out new words, new faces, new work on the table, by people we couldn’t have found ourselves, then essentially you are serving no purpose. We know and like these names, we like to see them, let’s see something new too right beside. I mean all this with all the best intention and hope for futures.

I edit a journal. I know what it’s like. Reading through blind submissions can suck, but isn’t that the point? To find the gem? To help a new head on the boat, who then can also talk?

Perhaps this first FOU issue was intended to splash so loud that new folks would be gathered to it in all light, but shit man, let’s get it ripped.

We’re here because we want variation, we want circuits. This feels like an electric light box in the window of a very swank, if wise, fame circuit.

Wanna talk about it? Let’s talk.

Welcome to Mean Week.

This is about as nice as it’s gonna get.

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