Natasha Stagg: How does Fortnight Literary Press fit into the world of publishing today?
David Kizner: Our motto right now is “we publish things that will embarrass you when you’re famous,” and that seems right. We offer a community at the Michigan campus for people who are interested in building imaginary things, and hopefully that community incubates creative talent who will go on to publish more outside of campus. Or not. Maybe everyone we publish this year will go to become tax attorneys or brokers with spouses who will embarrass them at dinner parties with that anecdote about how, in their sophomore year of college, Jules/Julia wrote a love poem. But wouldn’t it be a better world if more Wall Street brokers earned the nickname Browning?
NS: Does it do anything that no one else is doing?
DK: No other publications on campus publishes as regularly as we do, and the importance of timeliness can never be underestimated. There’s something magical about writing something and then, two weeks later, seeing it published and being read, out in the open, by hundreds of people. It’s all the efficiency of the blog model but with the vetting for quality which marks traditional publishing.
NS: Where are you from, and where do you live now?
DK: From Troy, in Michigan, now live in Ann Arbor, in Michigan. I went from living in a suburb which is famous for its two malls, to another city which also has two malls but other things, too. Like a chair John Lennon sat in once.
NS: How do you feel about literary journals in general: simply a necessary means to an end, or something more worthwhile than even anthologies these days?
DK: I think they’re unnecessary and result in nothing. Pretty fun, though.
NS: What kind of stuff does your journal publish?
DK: Poems, flash fiction, cartoons, photography, manifestos, critical analyses of zombie movies, origami instructions.
NS: Do you think literary journals are endangered?
DK: Journals, maybe. Literature, never. And who really cares if the stuff is bound or not? If it gets to the point that we can’t afford a print edition, we’ll still design the best lit mag we can and then tell our writers to buy some glossy paper for their printers.
NS: Will only the fittest survive, and could this be a good thing?
DK: With the advent of modern medical technology, I think even the least fit of us have a chance of making it to 70. Also known as the “Keith Richards argument” or “why I won’t stop eating at Taco Bell.”
NS: What about book publishing?
DK: I interned over the summer at Melville House Publishing, and I think that is a company that’s really showing the way to publish in the 21st Century. More translations for a globalized America. Republishing stuff that’s been out of print for decades. Incredible covers that, if nothing else, take advantage of the print format. And an embrace of technology—ebooks, blogging, twitter, book trailers, et al. That’s the way forward.
NS: Had you heard of Sonora Review before this?
DK: Sure. From everything I’ve read, it’s a great journal. I’m jealous that all of your names get to be on it.