I’ve never actually met Derek White in person, but I have read a few issues of sleepingfish and I’ve got a small stack of Calamari books next to my ugly reading chair that need to be read. I did email him once to buy a few books from him this summer right before he moved out of the country. I also emailed him to say that I had liked the novel excerpt he had sent to Phoebe (we had finalized our Fall 2008 issue, my last issue as Fiction Editor, and so I was absentmindedly shuffling through our drawer of submissions and recognized his name and read the thing – had I been around for another issue, it would have been cool to publish). The novel in question? Marsupial. Now Derek lives in Narobi, Kenya with his wife, Jess. The following are some questions I emailed him, and he was kind enough to take some time to respond. Thanks, Derek.
1) In July, you posted at 5cense a 10 day countdown to your move to Narobi. I thought that your paragraph on ‘space’ was really interesting. You wrote, “I’m more about adapting to or exploring public space, not creating my own personal space. Jess is too. Adaptation is key, as is yearning for a new backdrop.” Based on what I’ve read on your various blogs, it looks like you’ve adapted well to the public spaces of Narobi. I’m curious though, could you share a little bit about your personal space? Any photos? Journal entries? Thoughts?
Funny you should ask. When I received this I was posting a piece about just this topic.
[Derek’s blog post is long, but well worth the read]
2) Having left the print remains of Calamari in Michigan with Peter Markus, you shifted publication of sleepingfish to an online format. What have you found different or exciting about that shift? And what do you miss about print, about holding sleepingfish in your hand?
“Print remains.” I like that. I’m picturing carcasses collected in brother Markus’ fruit cellar (where the books are literally living). I miss book objects. That was the biggest sacrifice I had to make moving here. But as far as literary journals, even before I moved here I considered putting Sleepingfish online. It’s cheaper and more timely, and gives more visibility to the writers, which in the end is probably the most important thing about lit mags is showcasing people’s works. You also have more flexibility with formatting online, not that I have taken advantage of that flexibility yet, but you have less constraints on posting color art, videos, sound, longer pieces, etc. And rather than have an “issue,” I like the idea of being able to post pieces on a revolving and evolving basis. It’s also a more environmentally sound model, no paper, no postage, and none of the consequences that come with it. It’s a cleaner more efficient way of doing things, but yes, nothing beats the feel and smell of paper.