I’ve been editing for Elsewhere Magazine this last year, and I’ve been surprised at the work that we have been receiving. Some really good stuff and of course some not so good. The good stuff tends to be aware of what comes before it, but also has enough vision to push the genre forward, to try new things and inject the the prose poem, the flash fiction or the flash non-fiction with new energy. That kind of energy takes the form of imagination, of attention and of devotion to the craft. A good friend of mine, Kylan Rice, put it particularly well when he described the namesake of Elsewhere: “Of course, to be elsewhere is to be someplace other than here, other than nearby. It invokes a place, but the exact coordinates of this place are non-specific, non-local, even speculative or yet to be determined. Luckily, being elsewhere is not the same thing as being nowhere, and thus this state carries with it a set of geographical and topological ethics or responsibilities. Elsewhere constitutes the dream, the desire, and, in some respects, the vector. Elsewhere constitutes not only an evacuation, but also an eventual reterritorialization or repopulation. Note, however: due to its non-specific nature—its placed / placeable displacement—elsewhere can only ever constitute a becoming-place, a directionality. It constitutes magnitude or orientation, but never both. In this way, to be elsewhere is to be like the particles described by Heisenberg in his Uncertainty Principle—half-there, half-gone, now here, now there (not no-where).” That is the kind of writing that we are after, that is the kind of prose we are searching for and accepting.
But the more I work at the table of Elsewhere Mag submissions, the more I realize that the short prose (poetry, fiction and nonfiction (and all the stuff in between)) need to be seen by more people. I am constantly driven to share what I find, pull someone aside and say “Hey, have you seen this, just take a moment and see this, just a moment, you’ll love it.” If you haven’t read what we’ve been publishing, then please take a moment and go to http://elsewheremag.org and take a look. You’re going to love it, and you’re going to feel it’s something to be a part of, something to make yourself, and then you’re going to want to send it somewhere, and let me just tell you, that this is what Elsewhere Mag is all about: giving a home and a place to short prose, to the prose poem’s weirdly narrative lyricism, to the distilled flash fiction, to the oddly brief flash nonfiction.
But, I’ve been a little worried, a little impatient, a little desirous for more for me (yes, I want more short prose in the world) and for an audience (yes, our readership is growing and so are the amount of submissions). I’m hungry, you’re hungry, the air seems to even be thick with a hunger that we absorb, but our digital journal has been sucked into the stomach of the air, and it wants more. So, how to satiate sky? How to give more place, more space, more more of the short prose; we asked ourselves, we thought, we wondered.
We knew that we had to take the next step, which is why we launched our chapbook contest. We had to spend time finding the right judge, and we thought who better than Lance Larsen, the Poet Laureate of Utah. We had to decide on what the prize would be, and so we found a sponsor and they have generously agreed to provide a $1000 prize to the winner. But this is just the beginning, a first step in a large direction for the genre of short prose and for Elsewhere itself. The winner of the chapbook contest will not only take the prize, but will be represented by Elsewhere at the massively attended AWP conference in 2018 and following years. Elsewhere will print a few hundred copies of the chapbook, providing the author with 50 copies and discounts on any additional copies. Not only will this provide the winner with an audience, a readership, but this will also pave the way for many more projects to follow.
Again, Elsewhere Mag is committed to short prose in flash fiction and prose poem flash non-fiction and all that is in between, and we’re excited about the road ahead. I think it appropriate to end this post with a few more words by the ever-talented Kylan Rice (whom you should check out if you aren’t familiar with), “Elsewhere is exploratory but never definitive. It intersects but never violently so. It desires but never violates. Elsewhere wishes, goes, but never arrives … To write elsewhere is to wander in the wilderness.”
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He can be found online at zachtpower.com .
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