As a model of a possible way ahead* for small literaries (in an era where funding comes hard and sourcing audiences comes harder) is the launch of The Incongruous Quarterly.
The magazine's out (online) now, but the official kickoff is on Friday, August 6 at 8:30 p.m. at The White House, 277.5 Augusta Avenue, 2nd floor, Toronto. More info on Facebook.
Its gimmick, if that's not too glib a term, is to provide a home for homeless literature; good stories and poetry that are unpublishable for a variety of reasons, but not unreadable.The little online magazine defines unpublishable this way:
“Unpublishable” is a scary word. Some people think it means “unreadable,” but we know better. Writing can be unpublishable for almost any reason – it’s too long or too short, too weird, too conventional, ahead of (or behind) the times, genreless, plotless, subjectless, easily pigeonholed or impossible to define.
Unpublishable writing is important. Literary magazines are a tricky business, and stories and poems can easily fall through the cracks – not because they’re bad, but because there’s no room for them. The Incongruous Quarterly always has room. The fact that a story isn’t right for other magazines doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be reading it; in fact, sometimes it’s the opposite.
We’re a little different from a lot of other magazines. We’re collaborative: each issue has two very publishable guest editors who pick the themes, help select pieces and work with contributors for their sections. We’re always accepting pitches for articles, projects and sections. We’re writers too, so we try to be as fair as possible: we read blind, edit actively with contributors, and if you send us an email we’ll send you one back.The magazine contains both fiction and poetry as well as an often-hilarious compilation created by writer Sheila Heti of recollections from 13 writers and illustrators and poets about work that was "killed" for reasons, known and unknown,many and various; the magazine reprints (?) the items. As but one example, David Shields wrote a commissioned monologue for National Public Radio (NPR) which was never used and apparently never acknowledged.
The Incongruous Quarterly is a home for work that has nowhere else to go, but deserves to be read. We hope you like it.
*When I say this magazine is a possible model for other small literaries, it's not because I don't treasure beautifully designed and printed works on paper; I certainly do. It is simply an acknowledgement that the web allows unlimited space and often at less cost than a printed publication, particularly for what Scott Shortliffe of Heritage dubbed "micro-publishing". Whether such an online magazine is as disciplined, careful (in the dictionary sense) and valued as a print publication, well that remains to be seen. We will watch TIQ with interest.