Moveable Type: Memorious
October 12, 2015
A conversation with Rebecca Morgan Frank, Co-founder/Editor-in-Chief
How did Memorious begin? What was the goal when starting the magazine? In 2004, we wanted to create an online magazine that people would take seriously and that published the caliber of poetry and fiction we loved in our favorite print journals. I also wanted the magazine to have a design that gave readers the feel of reading a print journal, in part so that those who were wary of the web might feel more at home reading us and publishing with us.
You’ve been around for twelve years now—how have you been able to sustain its publication? We have no institutional support, so the magazine continues through the creativity and generosity of my evolving all-volunteer staff. It’s also fueled by the enthusiasm of our readers and contributors, who we work to maintain relationships with and support. Our editorial staff members are often former contributors who feel invested in the magazine.
Describe your decision making process for selecting work to appear in the magazine. Currently all submissions are read by our readers and at least one member of our editorial team, which includes our two new fiction editors, Joanna Luloff and Brian Trapp, who work together to select our fiction, and our new assistant poetry editor, Katy Didden, who works with me on the poetry. Our blog essays are all solicited by editors.
If your magazine has an ethos, what is it? I think we’re both nostalgic and forward thinking. We publish established writers like Jean Valentine and Major Jackson, but we are best known as a home for lyrical poetry and for some of the best emerging poets: in 2014 alone we witnessed over twenty contributors publish poetry books with terrific presses. Over time, we’ve also watched the notable debuts of fiction contributors such as Paul Yoon, Sharma Shields, Nina McConigley, Sophie McManus, and James Scott. Our fiction aesthetic is always evolving. Our goal is for the contributors’ work to speak for itself, to be what draws readers to us.
What is your plan for the future of the magazine? We plan to continue our Art Song Contest, and I’ve just selected our newest guest composer, who will choose a poet’s work for an original composition that will be performed, recorded, and published in the magazine. The exciting part of being an online magazine is that we can evolve to accommodate new kinds of work. Many of our innovations occur in response to what comes our way: when Nomi Stone sent me linked poems from her fieldwork in mock Middle Eastern villages built for US armed combat training, I immediately envisioned using hypertext, and when she embraced the idea, we introduced our first interactive poem.
After Memorious, what’s your favorite writing venue? I love Guernica, which sets the bar for the 21st-century magazine by bringing together politics and art and continuing to offer terrific content and an international scope.