I’ve decided to post about the process of putting together issue #1 of Conduit: literary outlaw mag galore… It’s late in the process but I’ll blog backwards first.
my first post should be the pitch I sent out to a very meticulous list of writers, whom I hoped to be my contributors. I know that the hardest part of launching a magazine is
1) getting content to publish
2) getting content to publish that’s good
3) finding a readership
[in order of importance]
I’m lucky enough to be a former managing editor of a very active small press in Ottawa, In/Words. As a fairly active editor myself, I took it upon myself (or ended up falling into it, not sure which) to form close personal bonds with the best writers I came across. Bringing them into the organization as editors helped, but I’ve tried to maintain a correspondence of sorts with everyone I cared about since I left Canada for Korea a year ago.
This is the message I sent to them on March 10, 2012:
I am emailing you all to propose the beginning of a literary excursion that may impress anyone someday. To begin, I’d like to lay out my values-laden frustrations with the current literary establishment, if I may, in abstract terms:
1. With few exceptions, the internet has done less for writers and more for commercial magazines. Too many established magazines accept and facilitate promotion online but disregard the option of online submissions.
2. The ban on multiple submissions does nothing for writers; furthermore, it is bullshit. How likely is one reader of every poetry magazine in Canada (let alone North America) to notice an identical draft of one poem in two magazines… and if so, shouldn’t the poem’s merit deserve multiple publications? This policy illustrates the bureaucratic hap trap which requires unknown writers to be agents and lawyers simultaneously.
3. Finally, the idea of a legitimate “magazine” seems more like an exploitation of writers’ publishing rights and abuse of the notion of “intellectual property” than a showcase for new poetry.
You all know my investment in small-distribution print culture and my personal conviction that a good magazine nurtures an atmosphere of intimacy and trust between readers, writers and editors. As such, it should be no surprise that I am hereby proposing the beginning of a print-only, “poetry newsletter” which I will publish here in Australia and mail copies of to Ottawa. I want your best 5 poems (or photos or short stories). The ones you believe in, the ones you think speak to the work we started five years ago or the poems that may have happened last week. Also, if you have some bold reviews or articles that you are afraid to send to more established magazines, Conduit is the place for it.
The point of keeping Conduit as a private, print-only affair is to avoid the risk your submitted poems being excluded from commercial distribution. As such, I will never register the magazine in any way as an official publication and will insist that it is merely a “private poetry newsletter.” All writers will be advised of our distribution beyond the submitters, in order to spare you from the investigations of more meticulous editors. We will use the internet and technology to keep our submitters informed and involved rather than using it to keep a safe or professional distance from them. The primary audience for our first issue will be you, my writers (as is the case with most small magazines) and we will branch out from there.
I propose the start of an outlaw literary magazine, because the literary establishment has failed us. I want to print by March 31st, which means the deadline for submissions (at the latest) will be March 24th… one week before printing, In/Words schedule. Send stuff early though, so we can work on it together if need be. There is no limit to the amount of work you want to send me. I’ll read it all.
In terms of identity of the magazine and Mission Statement, you folks and I are the initial identity of this publication. Best foot forward. I have complete confidence that everyone I’m addressing will progress, change, refine and be commercially successful as they age. If we all believe that, let’s create something unique to document it. If not, let’s make some paper glow.
And this kaleidoscope uniting all,
this tube, this conduit optical,
is magic. Through it—see
the perfect, all-inclusive metaphor.
-P.K. Page, Kaleidoscope