Issue 35, Final Fringe

Tagged: Fringe issue commentary

Our 2011 Theme Issue: MAPS

by Fringe Magazine 09.06.2010

Fringe seeks submissions for its fifth anniversary theme issue: MAPS.

Like the best writing, maps show us the world and also tell us about it. On a literal level, they tell us where we’re coming from, show us what we’re headed toward, and in the modern age, lay out the most efficient route to get us where we’re going. They can reveal far more than geographical truth — take Charles Joseph Minard’s map of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, which uses geography, temperature, time, and army size to tell the story, or the Beehive Collective’s graphic representing colonialism in the Andes, or our map of the human genome. Maps can be literal (atlases, highway maps, directions one stranger draws for another), virtual (Google Maps, GPS, tag clouds), and political (urban food deserts, “unspecified locations,” geographical privilege, red-state-blue-state maps). And of course, maps delineate the areas about which we know nothing, the spaces in which imagination has free reign—Here there be dragons.

Submissions close January 5, 2011. Please follow our guidelines, and add “Maps” to your subject line.

Some sites to get you thinking about the possibilities for this theme:

Denis Wood, cartographer
Info Aesthetics, “Where form follows data”
Edward Tufte, theorist of information design
Radical Cartography
Counter Cartographies Collective
The... more »

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A Chat With Sarah Sweeney

by Fringe Magazine, Sarah Sweeney 08.02.2010

Fringe republished Sarah Sweeney’s excellent nonfiction piece, “Tell Me If You’re Lying” this week, and chatted with her about the piece and what this publication (her first) meant to her. Hint: It changed her life.

Looking back at your piece now, three years after it was published, what do you notice?

There’s lots of weird humor in this story, I think. A few years ago, when I was doing readings promoting Best of the Web 2008, which this story was drafted to, it occurred to me that people were always laughing, even in places that I didn’t find particularly funny at first. But it’s definitely a tragicomedy, and I appreciate that most about it.

In what ways is this piece typical or atypical in terms of your work?

My writing is pretty honest. I’ve quite recently delved into writing more nonfiction essays — including more stories about my father — and my poetry is just as exposed. I have few secrets. But when “Tell Me If You’re Lying” first came out, I confess I did have a momentary freak-out about what my family and others would think. I knew there was no going back. But that feeling passed in an instant. I’ve received so many... more »

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Let's Talk About Paul Buhle

by Fringe Magazine 04.26.2010

Check out the Working issue’s most recent addition, an interview with Paul Buhle, editor of Working: A Graphic Adaptation, a re-working of Studs Terkel’s classic oral history text, Working.

Questions? Comments? Read the book yet? Post below.

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Fringe 2.0

by Fringe Magazine 07.22.2009

Untitled-1Welcome to the new Fringe. As you may have noticed, we’ve reworked our website to improve your literary experience.

Most importantly, you won’t have to wait months to read great new writing — we’ll be posting new work on an approximately weekly schedule.

In addition to integrating the blog onto the site, changing up the display, and adding more art to our home and issue pages, the kicky new design features a few new widgets for your reading pleasure. Here’s what you can do on the new Fringe:

  • Find more work from the same genre and issue using the handy right-side navigation bar
  • Share pieces from the site on Facebook using the little button at the bottom of each work
  • Recommend writing you like by clicking the “readers recommend” button at the bottom of each piece
  • Search Fringe from the top of any page
  • Find work easier with our new pages for contributors, issues and genres
  • Discuss the most recent pieces we posted to Fringe on the blog

Want to read more about what we did and why we did it? Kim Liao over at Vernacular interviewed Fringe Editor-in-Chief Lizzie Stark about the new design.

And don’t forget to check back next Monday for hot new writing.

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Keeping up with Thoreau


Fringe’s Special Enviro Issue debuted today, featuring literary selections with a special focus on green and environmental topics. Fringe isn’t the only journal looking toward the environment for inspiration, though.

Ever since Henry David Thoreau famously “roughed” it on the shores of Walden Pond, writers have used their natural surroundings as fuel for their creative fires. Lately, though, this environmental concern seems more omnipresent than ever. While staffing my company’s table at AWP, I was surprised by the number of people who asked if we published any nature writing anthologies. We don’t, but it got me thinking that it’s a good avenue to consider pursuing, since it’s obviously a hot button issue that’s in demand and in the forefront of our global consciousness.

I also came across two literary journals while at AWP that focus primarily on the natural world. The Fourth River is a journal run out of Chatham University in Pittsburgh, and “welcomes submissions of creative writing that explore the relationship between humans and their environments, both natural and built, urban, rural or wild. We are looking for writings that are richly situated at the confluence of place, space and identity, or that reflect upon or make use of landscape and place... more »

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Pollyanna All Grown Up


You know how irritating it is when you got up at 5:30 a.m. & someone complains about getting up before noon? That’s how I feel about the “Go Green” and “Stop Global Warming” movements. See, in the summer of 2001 I was a 21-yr old bright-eyed canvasser for the Florida Consumer Action Network (FCAN) for roughly a month. We were trying to get TECO to upgrade the coal filtering system on a nearby power plant whose out-dated technology was exempt from EPA regulations because it had been grandfathered under the Clean Air Act. FCAN had science on our side, and the mission at hand was small, attainable (they did finally make TECO retrofit the plants), and non-threatening to the status quo. As a canvasser, my job was to educate the public, get them to write petition letters, and solicit donations preferably $15 or more. The “public” was different middle class neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay area, some of which were close enough to the TECO power plant that you could see smoke stack over rooftops. I thought the job would be a cinch.

I was cussed out, got doors slammed in my face, was called a liar, and even worse, I was... more »

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the joys of composting


In honor of the upcoming Fringe Enviro-themed issue, I’m discussing a simple luxury San Franciscans tend to take for granted. The little green bin…

The little green bin is one of my favorite things about SF, but it’s so trashy. Literally. Citywide (bay area wide, more specifically) composting allows businesses and residents the chance to turn any food scraps, paper food packaging, and compostable to-go ware into…wine.

That’s right.

Green bins are provided by the city, and set out on the curb along with trash pickup. Restaurants usually have an equal number of compost and trash bins. It’s in the restaurant industry that you can really see the impact composting has on waste disposal. At the end of a busy shift, the compost bins are jammed full, while the trash…maybe halfway, and that usually just plastic wrap.

The yard trimmings and unwanted leftovers of San Franciscans get turned into compost, which is used in the vineyards of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. While the thought brings a slight shift in meaning to the concept of terroir, the actual practice of composting couldn’t be easier.

While composting isn’t always perfect…and often kinda gross…it’s one way to make a consistent contribution to living a green lifestyle... more »

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Fringe 17: Large and In Charge


The last issue of Fringe for 2008 is live–check it out for your quarterly dose of innovative and evocative writing and art from our impressive list of contributors.

As winter begins its descent, we (Bostonians especially) often begin to feel imprisoned by nature, chained by the shackles of snow, ice, and bitter winds. Much of the work featured in this winter’s issue deals in some way with our universal struggle to overcome those boundaries (whether it be our social phobias or a giant glass bottle) imposed by the world around us:

  • Cati Porter’s multimedia poem “Fructify” is a quiet, almost haunting, verse about a woman who “wants to scream/but her mouth has become a honeycomb”
  • Jean-Michel Buche’s artwork is clean and organic; tightly organized and meticulously detailed, it’s reminiscent of cells and science–of the things it takes to build a life.
  • In “Some Things I Just Can’t Talk About,” Casey Wiley tells the story of Tim, a man who can’t quite seem to get over the pain a certain Uno’s manager caused him, as he goes through his days railing at the world.
  • It’s no secret that small town America is becoming not much more than a fairytale our parents tell, but Kelley Calvert renders the... more »
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Fringe 16 Rocks It.


We tried something new in Fringe 16. Now that we’re only publishing four times a year, we’re giving you more of that Fringey stuff you love. This issue features doubles – two poets, two short nonfiction writers and two short shorts, along with our first-ever audio pieces and some brilliant paintings.

This issue is all about small moments, from the moment a fish hits the sizzling oil to a fever dream to the decision whether to use that last vein (in the penis) to shoot a little heroin.

Watch for the theme of food, which appears in several of the pieces. We’ve got telling footnotes, bright colors and the strange taste of fake cheese in our mouths, so come experience the joys of Fringe 16!

  • In An Ocean View, Brent van Staalduinen gives a lyrical account of the way Sri Lankan tourist culture changed after the tsunami in a piece of short nonfiction.
  • Michael K Meyers uses audio collage to tell two strange tales in the (de)Classified section.
  • Joe Clifford, a former heroin addict writes about the moment that the TV show Cops became about him in the short nonfiction piece Fear and Reality.
  • In her four poems, Francine Rubin shows the reader sparkling moments –... more »

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Fringe 15 bursts onto the scene


Fringe 15, this year’s second issue, contains two dominant thematic threads: the conflict between East and West, and the connection between past and present. As with so many issues, we didn’t plan this, rather, the themes arose from the work we found most compelling.

On the East-West Tip:

  • Melissa Fiorentino’s visual art of women in positions of ecstasy adds ambiguity and when I looked at them I felt excited, poised on the brink of discovery, like the women in her work — twists on the conventional female nude.
  • With acute observations and lyrical descriptive passages, Kathy L. Nguyen brings the reader into the world of Vietnamese sex tourism in Honda Dream, a short story that also deals with the relationship between east and west, colonizer and colonized.

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writing beyond the MFA


Before delving into the real topic of my post, I wanted to take a moment to join in the recent spate of holiday-gift-madness posts with some suggestions of my own.

We are artists after all, aren’t we, writers? Why not make something for those you love? We owe it to ourselves and our careers to support art, our own medium and others. Giving something homemade is giving something of yourself. Write a story or a poem, knit something (if you knit), bake a cake (you don’t have to be a pro) or some cookies, craft something. Or support other artisans. Gift-giving does not have to support the store-bought culture of our country.

Ok, that aside…what to do if you are graduating this semester with your MFA? Have you realized at this point or some earlier point what a useless piece of paper that diploma is? Do you think I’m a dick for suggesting so? Do you still hold hope that your thesis manuscript will get read by agents, editors, and you’ll be offered a contract in a few short months? Pinch yourself, or pinch me, and take heed. Below are some suggestions for life after graduate school.

1. Keep writing... more »

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Fringe 13 Now Live!


This month’s issue of Fringe features sleek new web design, and chic new literature. Here’s a gloss of the issue:

  • In her series of poems Fragments from a Nonexistent Yiddish Poet, Jehanne Dubrow takes on the persona of Ida Lewin, and captures a nostalgia for a past where the social order was regimented, and therefore a little safer.
  • Jackson Bliss transports us into the world of limo drivers, and then beyond, into the realm of the unexpected in the short short Change Gonna Come.
  • Holly Anderson and Sev Coursen’s series of poems The Secret Language of Flowers is, perhaps, the most formally unusual piece we’ve published — click around and you’ll see.
  • Venus Envy tells the story of a woman who is done with beauty, who goes to extraordinary lengths to lift herself out of the status quo and into the heroic.
  • Mihaly Flandorffer Peniches work is graphic. His bold use of color and simply-rendered figures make his images feel mythical as cave paintings.
  • In her excellent piece of criticism, Jaffney Rood explains what happens when academic culture collides with working-class students.
  • Another Kind of Nigger, Matthew Haynes’ nonfiction piece, riffs on the theme of Ethnos, which we will take up again in February. Haynes, half-Hawaiian, half-white, recounts devastating... more »

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Fringe 12 is Live


Issue 12 focuses on image and icons. We’ve got pieces on hair and teeth, AIDS, and myth. Read on, brave reader, and don’t forget to vote as part of our 25 books project. A gloss of this month’s issue:

  • Brett Allen Smith’s short story Needle! Now! Broken! takes what could be a horribly sentimental plot about AIDS and turns it into something subtly unsettling by fragmenting the short-story form. Is it any wonder that he likes David Lynch?
  • Ponyboy, Brad Gayman’s short short, negotiates the bizarre world of the Internet chat room, and the lies we’ve all told there.
  • Tammy Ho and Reid Mitchell’s collaborative dialogue, Perfect Teeth, explores a chance encounter in the dentist’s waiting room, the ambiguities that lie behind judgements at face-value.
  • Self Portrait in Three Hairstyles, a nonfiction essay by Carrie Jerell, shows how hairstyles, often dismissed as superficial, can change both self-perception and others’ perception of oneself.
  • Heather MacNeill’s piece on Oulipos will surely introduce you to a new and avant-way of composing literature.

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Fringe's Ethnos Issue: A Comment on Racism


I’m pleased to announce that submissions for Fringe’s second anniversary theme issue, Ethnos, writing about race and ethnicity, are open from now until December 15, 2007. You can read more about the theme on our submission guidelines page.

We had some hot debate about this theme. At first we couched it as “Racism,” but that seemed too combative and in opposition to last year’s Feminism issue — racism is a problem while feminism is a movement trying to help people. We wanted to read empowering work. The less-slanted theme of “Race” was suggested, but discarded because it seemed American centric. Finally we arrived at “Ethnos,” a Greek word that seemed geographically neutral, but likely to garner us the kind of submissions we want.

I think we discussed the word to be used so extensively, because at the editorial level, we’re predominantly white (with one Chilean), and sensed we were treading on delicate and unfamiliar ground. Early on in our development, we all agreed that the struggles of feminism are linked with the struggle for racial equality. We felt and still feel empathetic to brown writers, many of whom face the same challenges as women writers — the difficulty of early publication when so... more »

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Fringe 11 Is Live!


This issue of Fringe promises a plurality of postmodernisms, or perhaps (dare we flatter ourselves) post-postmodernism. Not, I hope, with the pretentiousness that “postmodernism” often means, but rather with a reader-accessible manner that tickles the brain in two layers — a surface element of pleasure in meaning and language, and a deeper theoretical element evident to those who like to analyze.

  • In “Tell Me If You’re Lying,” author Sarah Sweeney offers an honest portrait of her father in all his eccentricities, from his tales of alien abduction, to his obsession with seventies rock lyrics, to the simple fact of his marriage to her mother — he had severe Crohn’s and hid it. Presenting each personal myth her father built for himself, Sweeney seeks to distinguish reality from story, an impossible feat, perhaps, but then, luckily for us, it’s the attempt itself that matters.
  • Our poetry editor thinks that Pattabi Seshadri’s poems use “concrete entities (chairs, birds) to convey something wistful and strange beyond the physical limits of the images.” These playful and political images launch us into a space beyond reality. I particularly love the pregnancy of image of the papal throne in “Chairs,” which compares the occupant to a child, but also, perhaps, to... more »

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Fringe 10: Live!


Our new issue is live and kicking on the site, and chock full of fine writing.

Aside from our anniversary issue, we seldom solicit work surrounding a single theme, although happy accidents do arise. The pieces in this issue employ alienation, either at the formal or topical level to expose a greater personal truth.

*There is something unsettling about Johhny’s assertion, “You’re a whore” in Nancy Lynn Weber’s flash Sugar Cone, and something true about the narrator’s obsession with the dirty body.

*In Jon Stone’s poems, violence is juxtaposed with ordinary past time, exposing the savagery of our culture, and the queer way in which this violence satisfies.

* Laurah Norton Raines’ short story, Twenty-Seven, has a protagonist who is psychically uncomfortable with her new status as housewife, a role which is both too-familiar to her and incongruous with her conception of herself.

*In Invisible War, Lea Povozhaev negotiates the cultural and political differences between her own middle-class American upbringing, and her husband’s childhood in iron-curtain Russia, and the implications these differences will have for their son, Viktor.

* Nancy Bauer’s piece The N-Word explains the ways in which we are alienated from language, and how Don Imus’ insensitive comments have exposed a cultural climate of intolerance that... more »

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