Purchasing and Subscriptions
Table of Contents
From the Editor’s Desk (editorial)
Lisa Gundry – Visitation, Learning to Swim with Daddy (poetry)
Craig Baker – Wanderlust (short story)
Roel Garcia – My Father, the Stranger in the Room (essay)
Robert Knox – Commitment (short story)
Morris Lincoln – Portland on the Grand (essay)
Anthony Carpenter – The Inquisitor (artwork)
Tammy Ruggles – First View of the Ocean (photography)
Morgen Knight – Lessons of My Brother (short story)
J.M. Leija – Tacet (essay)
Gilbert Prowler – The Walk On Bye (short story)
Elyse Wild – Interview with David J. (interview)
Dawn Schout – Docked, June Flurries (poetry)
Emma Moser – This is How We Mourn (short story)
Elyse Wild – Not the Whole (photography)
Sommer Schafer – A Final Affair (short story)
Jason Gillikin – The Corner Office (editorial)
From the Editor’s Desk
One of the more difficult obstacles to creating the first issue of a literary magazine is finding content. We have no presence, except parenthetically when discussing the Caffeinated Press publishing venture as a whole. Potential submitters are understandably leery of sending their creative work to an unknown destination.
Who are these people with the strange title? And how do you pronounce it? “Three-two-eight-eight?” “Thirty-two, eighty-eight?”
We are fortunate, then, that the literary community has taken a leap of faith and provided us with more than a dozen pieces for our inaugural issue. We have eight short stories, four poems, two collections of photography, artwork, an essay and an interview.
A plurality of the pieces come from West Michigan, which is under-represented in the literary community. This situation is not because of a lack of talent, but rather that Big Names and Big Venues tend to congregate in Big Population Centers.
At the beginning of this project I spent several weeks researching the world of lit mags and discovered a few interesting points. First, Michigan is host to well over a dozen literary journals. Most are published through, or in conjunction with, universities. There are a couple of independent journals, but they publish sporadically and are difficult to find.
Second, I could find none with a specific geographic focus. They are based in Michigan, but they do not necessarily draw their talent from Michigan. I suspect this is because the larger, more well-known venues cast long shadows in the literary fiction world, and it is easy to get lost in a crowd of thousands when you submit your first completed story. Conversely, smaller magazines may be overlooked simply because there are a thousand others trying to capture the attention of writers. It becomes a bootstrapping problem – people need to know you exist before they send you their work.
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We are too early in our run to consider a themed issue, but themes can emerge from the submission pile. I could say the theme for issue 1 is endings, ironically, but that would be an oversimplification. Maybe transitions is more accurate.
Lisa Gundry offers us memories from the beginning and the end of her time with her father. Roel Garcia and Craig Baker give us, respectively, interior and exterior views on aging and being old, and the tricks time plays.
We have photos of hidden faces from Elyse Wild and photos of open water from Tammy Ruggles, and wonderfully strange artwork from Anthony Carpenter. Also from Elyse is an interview with musician and author David J.
Emma Moser and J.M. Leija meditate on moments of family transition – when we come to terms with the world no longer being the way it once was. Sommer Schafer and Alisha Galvan remind us that the past is never truly gone, and Gilbert Prowler suggests us that it might not have existed in the first place.
From Robert Knox we discover the difficulty of making far-reaching choices. And two poems from Dawn Schout explore ephemeral moments of beauty and grace.
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I recently finished reading Mile Marker Zero, by William McKeen. It tells the story of the literary and artistic scene in Key West, from the mid 1960s to the late 70s – territory staked out by Tom McGuane and Jimmy Buffett just after Hemingway’s time. Being a fan of many of the writers of that era I felt a profound sense of something like nostalgia or wistfulness. Saudade might better describe it, but the subtext there is more melancholy than hopeful. How amazing it would have been to be a part of that community! Then again, Hunter S. Thompson was there too so I might not have survived.
We usually discover a literary or artistic scene when (or just after) it is at its peak, simply because before then there is nothing to discover. Pilgrims might venture to Paris, Key West, Greenwich Village or Seattle, and discover that whatever there they hoped to find has moved on. At that point they can either chase after it or create their own. Thus a new generation creates a new scene on the foundations of the old.
Heraclitus said we can’t step in the same river twice. Jim Harrison riffed on this when he said it is difficult to do so even once. We can, but only for an instant. West Michigan’s literary community is becoming more vibrant every day. I think now is a good time to get our feet wet.