Natasha Stagg: Tell us about Fogged Clarity.
Ben Evans: Fogged Clarity is a comprehensive arts review featuring exclusive author and artist interviews, poetry, fiction, visual art, music and non-fiction. We have no constraints when it comes to medium, and will publish anything of sufficient interest and artistic merit. To date, we have released 27 consecutive monthly issues at http://foggedclarity.com, as well as a print collection featuring original work from Joe Meno, Benjamin Percy, John Hemingway and Terese Svoboda.
NS: Where are you from, and where do you live now?
BE: I live with one foot in Muskegon, MI and one in Chicago, but will be heading to the University of Oregon for my MFA in Poetry this fall; upon which, Fogged Clarity will continue its operation from Eugene, with associates working in Chicago, Muskegon, and NYC.
NS: How does your magazine fit into the world of publishing today?
BE: I’m not aware of any other magazine or website doing quite the same thing as we are – integrating all mediums into one forum in a monthly issue format. I think we offer a broader array of material ― text, audio, video, visual galleries ― than typical literary journals, and I believe we’ve managed to accomplish this without compromising our standards for quality. We are also incredibly fortunate to have one of the finest web designers I’ve ever met as our digital architect and visual arts editor. His name is Ryan Daly, and I love him like a brother.
NS: What does it do anything that no one else is doing?
BE: We run a unique audio/podcast interview series, and have assembled an extensive archive of exclusive discussions with creators like TC Boyle, Peter Carey, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Robert Wrigley, Jeff Daniels, Kathryn Harrison, James Lasdun, Randall Mann, Daniel Pinchbeck, Bob Holman, Danielle Evans and Andre Dubus III, among many others. Our interview archive can be found here: http://foggedclarity.com/category/sections/interviews/
We also feature a series of acoustic music sessions that notable musicians record specifically for Fogged Clarity. They can be found here: http://foggedclarity.com/category/sections/aural/fogged-clarity-sessions/
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?
BE: It is, and always has been important to give artists crafting worthwhile work a forum in which to showcase it, and I continue to buy as many journals as I can afford. I think The Missouri Review puts out outstanding work, and I have a great respect for their journal.
However, I do think we run the risk of over-saturating the literary market a bit by publishing anything and everything these days. If a writer submits their work to all of the publications listed on Duotrope — unless the work is utterly atrocious — its going to get published somewhere.
NS: What kind of stuff does your journal publish?
BE: The evolution of our journal’s aesthetic and direction seems to correspond with my growth as a person. When I started the journal I used phrases like “stabbingly eloquent” and “measured belligerence” to describe the work we were looking to publish; however, as I have grown I’ve realized that creators express themselves and evoke emotion in different ways. Everyone bleeding on the page all of the time can get tiresome, even for me, and I’ve come to learn that when someone is creating solely for catharsis they have a tendency to overlook craft and style. So, in selecting material for Fogged Clarity now we look for work that melds craft with feeling, or insight.
NS: How do we submit?
BE: Online su
NS: Do you think literary journals are endangered?
BE: No, if anything, there are way too many. I think it would be beautiful if there were only about a hundred journals in the country– that probably sounds strange coming from someone who founded the one millionth and one. But if there were fewer journals, the work would be better, people might buy them, and they wouldn’t have to compete as hard for funding. I am also a bit of a snob when it comes to this, as I think there are a lot of poorly designed, sub-par lit mags out there masquerading as legitimate publications with high standards. When, in actuality, they have almost none, and were created simply to fuel the self-importance of one or two individuals.
NS: Is becoming “online only” something to be worried about?
BE: I can’t say. It’s all about funding and readership. A journal should publish in the way they are best suited to deliver their content to their audience. For me, it was incredibly important that Fogged Clarity release a printed edition and give our readers something tangible.
NS: What about book-publishing?
BE: If you see ever see me with a Kindle or an E-reader please take it from me and throw it in the nearest body of water. I buy books and I always will, however archaic it comes to be. I hope they continue making them.
NS: Had you heard of Sonora Review before this?
BE: Yes, I had read a few interviews on your site. Good stuff.