Issue #13, 2016

Guest Editor, Christopher Howell

Price: $12.00

StringTown issue 13

Table of Contents

Peter Sears, When I am Staring at Her Hands
Peter Sears, The Newtown, Connecticut, Elementary School Massacre
Peter Sears, The Ferry Man at the River Lethe
D. Nurkse, Safe Conduct
D. Nurkse, Cold Spring Island
Robert McNamara, Still Life with Trains
Robert McNamara, Promised Land
Melissa Kwasny, August Deer
Melissa Kwasny, The Hawk People
Melissa Kwasny, The Goldfinch People
Melissa Kwasny, The Backyard Nest
Melissa Kwasny, Visiting Hours
William Ryan, Points, Lines, Angles, and Figures in Space
Dev Hathaway, The Compleat Angler / Fiction
Thomas Brush, The Stranger in the Mirror
Thomas Brush, Gambling at the Quil Ceda Creek Casino
Suzanne Lummis, The Grownups
Suzanne Lummis, A Bunch of Beginners
Suzanne Lummis, I Find One Tiny Long-Lost Plastic Umbrella Can and It Reminds Me
William Mailler, sapphics
William Mailler, Winter Sun
Ray Amorosi, Debauch
Ray Amorosi, Five Bells
Ray Amorosi, Goshawk
Ray Amorosi, Low Tide
Ray Amorosi, Lullaby
Ray Amorosi, Olive Tree


Don Hendrie Jr., Sagaponack / Fiction
Christine Kitano, Train Ride
Christine Kitano, February, 1943
Tomas O’Leary, Father Flynn and the Feather Man
Tomas O’Leary, Economy of Ashes
Jon Veinberg, You Walk with Spirits
David Axelrod, A Faint but Fixed Point in the Sky
David Axelrod, The Disciple
Bill Tremblay, The War
Bill Tremblay, Brief Encounter
Bill Tremblay, Letter to Floyce Alexander
Mariève Rugo, Interior with Parakeet and Flowers
Mariève Rugo, Dead Reckoning
Mariève Rugo, Concerto in A Major
Robert Abel, Wonderful Targets / Fiction
Christopher Buckley, Grey Stars
Kathleen Flenniken, Another Letter about the Weather
Kathleen Flenniken, Reading Aloud
Kathleen Flenniken, All Unknowns are Equal
Gary Young, Two Prose Poems
Anthony Robbins, Easter
Anthony Robbins, Why the Ghost Wears a Sheet
Nance Van Winckel, The Way it Went
Nance Van Winckel, Would Have Could Have Should Have
Nance Van Winckel, More of Brueghel’s Crows
Nance Van Winckel, Cooling it in the Clark Fork
Nance Van Winckel, Finally Comes the Day, the Year
Fred Pfeil, Holding On/ Fiction

Editor's Comment

I began my editorial career in 1965 as associate editor of a university newspaper. The process of bringing words to print and then into active and prolonged public view seemed mysterious and wonderful and I have been doing it ever since. Along with thousands and thousands of hours of hard work, my life in publishing—as editor of six magazines, three anthologies, and director of two university presses and one independent literary press—has brought me many satisfactions, among which the greatest is surely the pleasure of bringing magnificently clarified and moving work into the cultural conversation and boosting the careers of writers who might otherwise have been left out in the anonymous cold.

But my professional biography is far from unique (or is marginally unusual only in that I have not, seemingly, known when to quit). In the 1960’s and 70’s hundreds of others were stricken with the same passionate urge to create and sustain literary publications of every esthetic and technical stripe. People were staying up late, after working all day at, generally, crummy jobs, to mimeograph, handset, or type pages of poems and stories they would later collate, with the help of a few friends, and saddle stitch by hand in their basements. Then there would be the long, more or less humiliating process of lugging the finished product around to bookstores where skeptical and sometimes downright hostile store personnel would, after prolonged wrangling, agree to take two copies, on consignment. Then, of course, one had to arrange to keep checking back to see if copies had been sold and to collect 60% of the one dollar cover price. Sixty cents. It had to be a labor of love.

And I love to think of all of those dedicated editors, before composers and computers and print-on-demand, before even the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, when the only more or less “professional” support came from the renegadoes of COSMEP, the Committee of Small Magazine Editors and Publishers, a hilariously fractious body which included, along with representatives of some fairly straight sounding publications, editors of magazines with titles like Dog Breath, Hair on Your Ass and The Burning Monkey Review. Still, they were wonderfully committed and nearly united in their anarchic opposition to “commercial” publishing in all its forms. It was a political stance, and it was based on the notion that literature should not be the province solely of those with money enough to market it like toothpaste or toilet paper, to, in short, completely commodify it. They believed that the requirement for participation in the print culture was not money, but vision.

It was this vision that kept people bent over their light tables, cutting in corrections, gluing and regluing copy that somehow always looked crooked, and proofreading until their eyes bled. And it helped thousands of writers understand that they did not work in fruitless and anonymous isolation. The main reason I offered to edit this edition of StringTown is not that I have too little to do, it is that Polly Buckingham and her journal have always reminded me of this legacy of inspired, hands-on, heart felt commitment to literary publishing that defined the era I have been describing: in short, it is a marvelous throw-back.

She started StringTown in Astoria, Oregon, while working in bookstores, doing various kinds of jobs; like every small magazine editor who ever lived, she simply wanted to make it happen. And she has, from the beginning done all the work of editing, typesetting, designing, and funding, in any way she could, issue after issue. And she managed to inspire numerous people up and down the west coast to help in the distribution of the magazine to bookstores, doing the work of placing copies, arranging for consignment, and collecting such receipts as there have been. The end result has been not only a large community of writers drawn together over nearly twenty years of the journal’s publication, but the establishment of what amounts to an underground distribution network, the kind of thing that every small magazine editor dreamed of back in the 70’s but just didn’t have quite the tenacity to pull off. I admire tremendously the spirit of the journal and its editor; the opportunity to play some part in helping both of them along has been a great pleasure.

About my selections I should say that the fiction pieces are by writers whose work I published in my capacity as principal editor for Lynx House Press, and that three of those fine authors died young. I hope I will be forgiven for using my guest editorial opportunity to honor them, whose work I loved and whose loss I mourn. Many of the authors represented herein are familiar to me, as they will be to many readers; I am unapologetic about this, as I believe in the work, and anyway was given a free hand, and, as always, have simply published what I liked.

Further, I want to dedicate this issue to my friend Bob Abel, and to all who labor in the vineyard of art.

—Christopher Howell