Issue 35, Final Fringe


The Armada Sails On

by Lizzie Stark 06.28.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. Today, Editor-in-Chief Lizzie Stark issues our final goodbye.


We used to say we could whip up a feature on nothing but toilet paper and free straws.

In grad school, someone once told me that my short stories were too feminist for most literary magazine to publish. He might have been telling me, nicely, that I ought to focus less on politics and more on style, but still, it made me mad.

I felt mad because, as a woman, I wasn’t trying to write “feminist” short stories, but work reflective of my reality. I felt mad because uncomplicated appreciation of Moby Dick or The Road, is impossible for me; by dint of my worldview, I can’t divorce it from the centuries old sociopolitical environment that canonizes men’s work about men as “great literature” and women’s work about women as “chick lit.” I got so mad that I did some research on where some of the living lady greats first got publishedpeople like Dorothy Allison and Sandra Cisneros. What I discovered wasn’t too surprisingthey’d first been published by journals catering to their demographics, journals that had largely vanished.

But if the places that launched southern lesbians and Mexican-Americans of uncommonly... more »

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Gown Bat Knot Four Cotton

by Anna Lena Phillips 06.28.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. Today, poetry editor Anna Lena Phillips reflects on the collaborative work of editing the magazine.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about editing Fringe is dreaming up questions to ask the poets we publish. The timing of this final issue means I haven’t been able to do the usual interviews with the poets who appear in it. But I’ve asked myself a few questions during the course of my work on the magazine, and here I thought I’d answer a couple of them.

The one I’ve asked most frequently is this: Why did I have to run off to an expensive grad school in the chilly north instead of going to one of the fine programs down here in the warm places? I wanted certain things—a program that offered coursework in prosody, most particularly—and I could not find them in the southeast. I found the courses, but it turns out the north is not the place for me. I was lucky there in a few other aspects, though, and one of them was that I met my fellow Fringe editors.

Considered together, the poetry we’ve published can seem either eclectic or disparate, depending on the... more »

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On Being Fringe-Worthy

by Llalan Fowler 06.27.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. Today, nonfiction editor Llalan Fowler talks about the fabled, ethereal quality of “fringey-ness.”

I began my studies in the publishing program at Emerson College in 2008. It didn’t take many cups of Dunkin in the student lounge or after-class beers at The Tam to figure out that the Fringe Girls were A-listers. They were all strong and confident and spoke with ease about issues in the world that needed to be talked about and they all had great haircuts. Their group was a tight knot of very independent women bound by intense loyalty and compassionate friendship.

To say I was flattered when they asked me to become nonfiction editor in 2009 is an understatement. They trusted me with a whole entire genre? And the truthiest one, at that! But perhaps more importantly, I was a Fringe Girl. With my new title as Fringe Girl came a responsibility to stand up for what I believed in, and not just by telling people what I thought was right, but by doing.

Though I felt most comfortable with nonfiction of all the genres, it still took a while to become comfortable managing other nonfiction writers — to be able to put into... more »

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We Made Some Waves

by David Duhr 06.27.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. Today, managing editor David Duhr gets all nostalgic on your asses.

In these pages Lou Gallo once wrote “I am a complete, woebegone nostalgician. And nostalgia is a disease.” I too suffer from this disease. Like, badly. Nostalgia is my constant and unwelcome companion, especially these days, so far removed from my adoptive Boston home. Like a bratty child, nostalgia kicks me in the shins as we walk down these dusty Texas streets, demanding that I take us home, back to where Boylston meets Tremont, tomato soup and grilled cheese at Sweetwater, cold beer at the Tam—literary revolution at Jacob Wirth’s.

I wasn’t there the night Fringe was founded, but I’m nostalgic for it anyway. Nostalgia doesn’t always play by the rules. The night Fringe came into existence I was working in a piece-of-shit corporate bookstore in D.C., my finger so far from the pulse of contemporary writing that I didn’t even know online lit journals were a thing. I was, although I didn’t know it at the time, nearing the end of a phase where I couldn’t give an eighth of a damn about anything written after 1900. Literary magazines, experimental, political, topical contemporary writing—these were not... more »

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Better Late Than Never

by Sarah Miles 06.26.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. Today, founding editor Sarah Miles reflects on her time with the magazine.

I’m late.

Past editors were supposed to have this in last week. I kept starting this goodbye, either in an email reply to the original request, or in my head.  Drafts are littered all over my computer. I’m busy, I told myself.  I have a new job, a new boyfriend, a new apartment, a new life. I leave for a two-week trip to Europe in six days.  It’s okay if I don’t get this last piece in for Fringe.

But it’s not okay. Fringe means a lot to me, and I need to give it a proper goodbye.

Every day I come into my office and see a Fringe magnet, one of our giveaways at an AWP, clipped to a random file drawer.  People ask me about it sometimes.  Sometimes I point it out. And I am proud to tell them about it, to say I was a founder and the first fiction editor.

I am proud that we founders made something from nothing. I am proud that we made something good enough, exciting enough, progressive enough, that others wanted to help us continue it.  I am proud... more »

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Shadowed Voices

by Janell Sims 06.26.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. Today, Publicity director Janell Sims recounts how Fringe helped her find community.

I had already been at Emerson College for a year without many good friends to show for it, when one night after class, I worked up the courage to linger a little longer and chat with a cute girl with jet-black hair wearing what I immediately recognized as an Anthropologie dress. After a few minutes, people started to file out of the classroom, and Lizzie held up an imaginary pint glass. “Janell, you want to grab a drink?” She and I gathered with several other women around the sketchy penny-covered table at the Tam, and my life was never the same after that. We talked about clothes, hair, that awful movie we had to watch in class, how so few women appear on the New York Times bestseller list, and how the literary canon was strikingly scarce of women and people of color. Well, maybe that didn’t all come up that first night, but over the course of the next year, and the next, and then the next seven, Fringe grew from an idea of trying to fix something that was wrong, trying to... more »

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Confessions of a Fiction Editor

by Anna Laird Barto 06.25.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. Today, Fiction editor Anna Barto tells us what she’s going to carry forward.

The first time I sent a form rejection, I liked it. I felt dirty after, but it was still better than being on the receiving end. One click of the mouse and the power dynamic changed forever.

Then, for some reason, David Duhr, who was Fiction Editor at the time, put me in charge of the folder labeled, “To reject with loving kindness.” I wrote to children and teenagers who were brave enough to send us their early efforts, encouraging them and suggesting authors they might like, authors not necessarily included on their school’s syllabus.

I used to lose myself for hours in the slush pile when I was supposed to be reading Ulysses or churning out pages of my MFA thesis, a deadly serious semi-autobiographical work of uncompromising social realism. I loved being up to my elbows in mixed metaphors, slathered in purple prose, its badness redeemed through sheer exuberance.

I read stories with no punctuation, or nothing but punctuation; stories written backwards; stories about robots, librarians on the lam, S&M apes and pet leeches. I read stories that broke every rule I’d learned... more »

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A Hole in the Bucket

by Julia Henderson 06.24.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. Today, Art Editor and Webmistress Julia Henderson talks about what Fringe means to her.

The idea for Fringe was born over cheap post-seminar beers at a dive bar near Emerson College in 2005. I’d met a few awesome ladies in a literary criticism class, and I knew they’d be my friends for a long time. For the first time since college, I’d found my “people”, and I wasn’t going to let them go. Ever practical, I was working toward a Master’s before I started my family, trying to cross everything off of my to-do list and not really thinking about forming friendships, let alone starting a literary magazine. But I found that the group of women we collected together had amazing ideas and a wonderful passion, and I couldn’t deny myself a space amongst them.

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So I stumbled into Fringe with a little html under my belt, a passion for art, and a strong belief in the mission of our magazine. And here I am, eight years later, and I don’t know what I’m going to do without Fringe. It’s leaving a hole I’m not sure I can fill.

My life has changed a lot since... more »

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This Isn't Goodbye

by Heather MacNeill Falconer 06.24.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. Today, (de)Classified and Criticism editor Heather MacNeil Falconer bids goodbye to the magazine.

I’ve decided to write my goodbye to Fringe while riding the Metro North home from work. The rationale, here, is that if I am writing in a rather confined, public venue, the chances of me bursting into tears is significantly reduced. No one here wants to sit next to a blubbering idiot, and I suspect many will give me that same icy glare normally reserved for those with their phones not on vibrate. (In fact, I just gave that glare to the guy to my left whose phone has rung for the fifth time in the last ten minutes with what I think is the call of a wood thrush.)

It is a great deterrent, in theory.

Already, though, I’m questioning my decision because each time I try to write something that gets to the heart of what Fringe has meant, and will continue to mean to me, that familiar tightness in my temples grows and the seat-back in front of me gets blurry.

When I think of Fringe, it’s hard not to see Lizzie and George’s old apartment and the tattered sofa I sat on,... more »

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by Clarisse Hart 06.23.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. As part of the goodbye, we asked former contributors and staff to write about their experiences with the magazine.

Fringe was the first literary journal I ever submitted work to. One of the poems the magazine published remains my most experimental work. I remember the queer feeling of having the piece accepted, as if I was four years old again, astounded that a stranger would buy the sour lemonade I had prepared in my kitchen. I hadn’t yet decided whether or not I liked the stuff, but here was someone exclaiming, “Delicious!”—and meaning it.

Six years later, I still associate Fringe with that sensation of courage bubbling up and spilling over into willing hands, a potent mix of sour and sweet and whatever else comprises the mystery of successful art.

Fringe has encouraged dozens of writers to be fearless in the knowledge that strangers will try their experiments on their tongues. As the magazine closes its doors, I hope that courage will keep roiling in Fringe’s writers and readers. It certainly does in me.

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My Life on the Fringe

by Rachel Dacus 06.22.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. As part of the goodbye, we asked former contributors and staff to write about their experiences with the magazine.

I first began interviewing poets for Fringe Magazine because I had questions about writing I couldn’t find answers to. An interview seemed a clever way to hold my own symposium about how and why poets write, and to pick the poets I wanted answers from because I admired their work.

From Cheryl Dumesnil, author of In Praise of Falling and the memoir Love Song for Baby X, came this intriguing comment, in response to my asking how raising children has affected her writing:

“Kids are seeing everything for the first time. That way of looking that grown-up artists and writers have to cultivate—they’re doing it naturally. So I spend a good chunk of every day walking in the world with a couple of brand new humans who fall down in awe over the smallest details: house sparrows that congregate on the parked shopping carts at Whole Foods, parking garage gates rising and falling, the glass elevator at the BART station, the worm drowning in the puddle on our driveway.

“These kids are wired for wonder, attuned to detail, sensually awake... more »

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The Small Magazine that Made Me Feel Big

by Jill D'Urso 06.21.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. As part of the goodbye, we asked former contributors and staff to write about their experiences with the magazine.

I moved to Boston in the fall of 2006 to get my Master’s in Publishing and Writing at Emerson College. I was 24, and though I fancied myself well-read and adept with words, I had no concept of what it meant to participate in a literary community. I didn’t read literary journals or The New Yorker. I didn’t smoke or drink whiskey. I had attended a few readings in college, but nothing since. When asked, I said my favorite writer was Virginia Woolf.

When you’re in graduate school, hanging out with writers, you can be made to feel small if you haven’t read the latest “it” book or don’t have a subscription to Tin House. You can be made to feel small if you’re a candidate in the publishing program, not the vaunted MFA program. You can be made to feel small when you attend literary parties and don’t have anyone to talk to, so you slip out the back door.

It was amidst these feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty that I found Fringe. Or Fringe found me.... more »

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On the Crumbling Banks

by Lesley Wheeler 06.20.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. As part of the goodbye, we asked former contributors and staff to write about their experiences with the magazine.

It’s where you want to be, isn’t it, and where you’re scared to be? On the edge of the water, where grasses dangle over the creek. I’m a poetry-reader and a poet, mostly, so those are the sections of Fringe I’ve spent time with, hanging out where the poems rush by.

What I love about poetry at Fringe is that edginess isn’t just a surface quality. The most fashionable contemporary poets play with verbal texture, juxtaposing one image oddly against the next, but there’s isn’t always much at stake. In the black, white, and red landscape of Fringe, you really do see poets working through hard intellectual, emotional, and stylistic problems. They’re at the end of terra firma for a reason: because that’s where all the interesting action is.

Fringe has been hospitable to all kinds of poetic weirdness. Sometimes it’s formal experiment. Sometimes it’s a kind of spiritual strangeness, as in Molly Weigel’s “Spare the Snowman” (01.26.2013):

I walk beside the river where the bark of the birch tree rolls back
like peeled skin, as if a damp new tree... more »
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The Story That Led Me Home

by Kirstin Chen 06.19.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. As part of the goodbye, we asked former contributors and staff to write about their experiences with the magazine.

My short story, “Word Perfect,” appeared in Fringe in February 2007, marking a series of firsts—my first publication, my first short story set in Singapore, my first short story featuring an Asian female protagonist. This particular female protagonist was not only Singaporean, but was also close to my age, shared my educational background, and had grown up in a neighborhood similar to the one of my childhood.

It wasn’t as if my previous stories weren’t rooted in my own life. The first story I ever wrote, in a college creative writing class, essentially captured the long, tortured break-up my college boyfriend and I had gone through—except that the fictional couple were two yuppies in their twenties, and the girl was white.  I wrote stories about white girls who’d gone to the same schools I had, or taken the same jobs, or lived in the American cities I’d lived in; I wrote one particularly terrible story about an Asian boy at a New England boarding school, loosely based on the one I’d attended. But somehow, until “Word... more »

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Transition Time

by Joy Ladin 06.18.2013

Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. As part of the goodbye, we asked former contributors and staff to write about their experiences with the magazine.

It’s common for writers to measure our identities in terms of the rejections and acceptances we receive. Acceptances seem to confirm that we are indeed the wonderful writers we hope we are, that the sacrifices of time, money, and social life we make for writing are worth it. Rejections seem to confirm every doubt about our ability as writers, and, for those of us who write close to the emotional bone, our deepest existential anxieties: we have bared our souls, and the world has shrugged in boredom or grimaced in distaste.

After a couple of decades riding the ever-turning wheel of writerly fortune, I had a mantra—only acceptances matter—and I could repeat it in my sleep. But by January 2007, when I received word that Fringe had accepted my poem “Transition Time,” acceptance and rejection had once more become a matter of life and death, confirmation of my value as a person or confirmation that my life and I weren’t worth it. A few months before, I had stopped living as the man, “Jay Ladin,” under... more »

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Metta Sáma on animals, wildness, and the unugly

by Metta Sáma, Anna Lena Phillips 06.12.2013

Metta Sáma’s prose-poem sequence, “No End to the Horror,” appeared recently in Fringe. Poetry editor Anna Lena Phillips interviewed her by email in May.

A certain literary journal used to have a line in its submission guidelines that read “No cat poems.” What are your feelings about cat-containing poems? How did le animal enter this poem?

Oh, I once heard that a certain popular writing professor forbade squirrel poems in his class, because he hated the sound of the word squirrel. I like squirrels. Animals are us & we are animal, yes? So, if we write about ourselves or our fellow humans, then we’re writing about animals. It’s quite silly for me to hear someone say that we can only focus on the human animal.

The poem began with le animal. I was so incredibly drawn to how humans and cats become interdependent and the rituals between cats and humans, the forming of bonds: who gets to be the Alpha and such. We humans laud the cat for its independence, yet so many of us (unwittingly) desire anticipating the needs of a cat (bringing them inside (domestication) from the outside (feralness), inserting ideas and desires into an animal’s body (the animal wants to... more »

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Fringe's Last Issue Runs in June

by Fringe Magazine 04.30.2013

Dear Readers,

We’re sad to have to say it, but after 8 wonderful years we’ve made the tough decision to shutter Fringe in June, though we’ll keep all 35 issues up and running indefinitely.

Read the editors’ statement here.

Thanks for all your support over the years. As hard as this is, you’re still what verbs our world.

Love and revolution,


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Tracy Levesque Artist Statement

by Tracy Levesque 03.04.2013

Nicknamed “Van Gogh’s little sister” for her lineal expression, bold use of color and passion for painting nature, Fringe 34 artist  Tracy Levesque’s work is truly a celebration of existence.

A creator from an early age, Levesque started out as a realistic artist but quickly abandoned realism for a more expressionistic, symbolic style that spoke more to the psychological realities of human existence rather than the more conventional interpretations of them. Inspired by the brush stroke of Mother Nature she began interpreting her world through paint and transforming what she saw into her own version of reality. In love with line and color, Levesque’s paintings are vibrant and full of life – like looking through the eyes of a stained glass window into a world that looks right back at you.

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Molly Weigel on translation, floods, and Roy Orbison

by Molly Weigel, Anna Lena Phillips 02.23.2013

In the MoremarrowMolly Weigel’s poems “Spare the Snowman” and “Le Roy du Sentiment” appeared in Fringe in January. Her translation of the Argentine poet Oliverio Girondo, In the Moremarrow, will be available in April from Action Books, which also published her translation of Jorge Santiago Perednik. Poetry editor Anna Lena Phillips interviewed her by email in January and February.

How did you begin writing poetry?

I wrote collaborative poems with my dad when I was 4 or 5—the kind where you fold a piece of paper in half lengthwise and take turns writing words the other person can’t see. At first, we just wrote single words, and did not look at anything of what the other person wrote. Then we put it all together to see what we had. Here’s a surviving example: “Wasn’t paper windy? / Rap-running rug-leaves rip, / Lick like milk shining silk everywhere.” I still love to do this; I love poetry’s ability to make itself.

Talk about how the crows and Roy Orbison came to converge in “Le Roy du Sentiment.”

I had recently watched the 1988 television special A Black and White Night on PBS. It’s a tribute concert shot in black and white, in which Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou... more »

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Interview with Carolyn Jones

by Carolyn Jones, David Duhr 02.04.2013

In 2012, after learning that the baby she carried would be born into a life of pain, journalist Carolyn Jones had an abortion right after a new sonogram law was passed on Texas. She went on to write about the horrible ordeal for the Texas Observer. After her piece went viral, we asked her to write about what it had felt like to make such a private decision public. This week, we republish that piece, When Stories Develop Lives of Their Own.

Managing editor David Duhr recently spoke with Jones about the piece, her recent interview with Terry Gross on NPR, and her ongoing reporting on reproductive rights in Texas for the Texas Observer.

Have you been surprised at all by the attention your story has received, culminating (perhaps?) in your recent appearance on Fresh Air?

Yes, I was astonished that my original story for the Texas Observer was so widely read and even more astonished that Fresh Air chose to highlight it a year later. In fact, when the Fresh Air producer contacted me about doing an interview with Terry Gross, it took all my efforts not to fall off the chair!

But between the media interest in my Observer story last March, and the NPR interview this January, I really haven’t... more »

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