The Blog

A Rear-Smooching Post to My Peers and Role Models

KENSINGTON, MD — Before we unveil the spiffy logo of Atticus Review and obsess about how the ink spots represent the distinct uttering of the mouthy bird who seconds as a quill pen in our funky masthead, and before we rattle on about how incredibly stoked we are to be launching the inaugural issue of our weekly online journal (that is, before we subject you to navel-gazing ad nauseam), I’d like to recognize a highly charged group of leading journals and individuals who serve as role models and inspirations for relevance in alternative literature.

As a relative newcomer to the small press scene, I easily could be mistaken for a brown-nosing charlatan seeking to win friends, poach writers, and raise foot traffic to our website. That’s not altogether untrue (brown-nosing, in fact, is in my Italian DNA), but what motivates me to write this ass-kissing post can’t be measured by Google Analytics or a QuickBooks financial statement.

What drives me out of bed this and every morning (other than the bounding gait of two excitable canines) is knowing that I am surrounded by literary genius. As the publisher of a farcically independent press, I take pride in latching on to the ink-stained coattails of my peers whose syntactical fabric compels me to fasten my grip and hold on for dear liveliness.

As I see it, my job is to facilitate the dishing out and slopping up of meaningful, rhythmic prose. And my dream is to theatrically thumb my nose at the nay-saying media whose inept Nielsen ratings never demand an educated consumer’s attention like moving verse and rapturous dialogue.

Good writing isn’t exclusive to one country club, nor is it elitist or self-serving; good writing crosses out rules and replaces them with breadcrumbs. My responsibility is to lead you to good writing. So at the risk of losing you via hyperlink before you finish checking out the contents of our spanking new issue, and at the risk of pissing off everyone who’s not on this truncated list, here’s a sampling of terrifically influential, must-visit, literary sites and established publications (not university-affiliated, to my knowledge, and in no particular order): McSweeney’s, The Believer, Tin House, Granta Magazine, The Hudson Review, The Threepenny Review, [PANK], Hobart, The Nervous Breakdown, The Collagist, Monkeybicycle, Fictionaut, Necessary Fiction, SmokeLong Quarterly, HTML Giant, Big Other, Kaffe in Katmandu, Gargoyle Magazine, Metazen, BULL Men’s Fiction, Moon Milk Review, Mud Luscious Press, decomP, Prick of the Spindle, Word Riot, Knee-Jerk, Electric Literature, Vestal Review, jmww, FRiGG, Wigleaf, Everyday Genius, 3:AM Magazine, Volume 1 Brooklyn, BOMB Magazine, Barrelhouse, The Rumpus, and Slice Magazine.

Now that I’ve sufficiently brown-nosed some of my smallish press colleagues and told them how they all inspire genius every single day just by consistently bringing the literary goods, and now that I’ve alienated other deserving presses by failing to mention them, I’d like to acknowledge the fine folks who have made Atticus Review a gloriously skewed reality. Without their efforts and wildly misguided encouragement, I’d be raising this freak flag alone and that’s simply no way to fly.

Atticus Review materialized in a causal, casual, off-the-cuff manner as many creative, purpose-driven enterprises do: It mainly surfaced through a series of coffee-fueled and whiskey-hazed conversations, some of which occurred at this year’s AWP conference in Washington, D.C. This seat-of-the-pants approach often works, especially when the proposed initiative requires little seed money, and entails lots of voluntary sweat by metaphysically linked loon birds. This tireless labor of love—better known as independent publishing—brings out the philanthropist in many of us.

I first owe a debt of gratitude to Atticus Books author John Minichillo (The Snow Whale, July 2011) for leading me to Katrina Gray to whom he’s married. I had been keenly aware of Katrina through her delectable writings at various places online, but I hadn’t dreamed of finding an editor-in-chief who would be so readily capable of harnessing the reins. From the starter’s pistol, she has injected Atticus Review with a spunky mix of diligence, passion, and presence—a very conscientious guardian angel-like presence.

I tip my hat to Matt Mullins, too, for prompting me to turn the mixed media area of this website into an online gallery showcasing innovative pieces of electronic/interactive literature. This area of untapped experimentalism offers a potential explosion of cutting-edge creativity and through Matt’s resources, insights and expertise, AR is poised to become a hub for things that push contemporary literature’s boundaries.

A journal would be incomplete without the watchful eye and artistic mettle of at least one poet in every issue. I thank the generous contributions of AR poetry editor Michael Meyerhofer for filling what would have been a gaping hole in our paperless pages. Michael’s talents as a poet are immense and his evaluations of each week’s poems—carefully gauging their inventive use of form and language—are worth their weight in curatorial gold.

Writer and cultural commentator Djelloul Marbrook, bless his Rimbaudian nature, also deserves a note of praise. In the developmental stages of the Review, he emboldened (challenged?) me to “do something no one else (or few others) do.” We will do our best to fly, Djelloul, with your ongoing prompts and moral support.

Special thanks, too, to Arizona friends and former WorldatWork colleagues Mark Munoz and Suzannah Fields of RIPE Creative for their patience and persistence in understanding what I wanted from the new logo/masthead, and Tracey Holinka of Chaos to Clarity, who continues to be my go-to person for all things related to website development.

Finally, I would be sorely remiss to omit my trusty assistant, Libby Kuzma, who has been my anchor when I was sure this ship was headed for an iceberg. As managing editor of Atticus Review, Libby is responsible for herding cats and twirling plates, all while listening to my half-baked ideas and assuring me they are fit for grilling.

About Dan Cafaro

Dan Cafaro is the founder and publisher of Atticus Books, a small press based in Madison, N.J. When Dan is not following his wife around the country, he is known to sit for long periods of time pondering how to live off the grid. Atticus Review is his first literary journal.

5 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Mike Lynch
    May 5, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    nice post. badass list. it's like the literary equivalent of the high school notebook covered in band logos. heh! another one that's always had a soft spot in my heart is raintaxi. i know they only do reviews, but i used to score free copies at the beyond baroque in venice beach (they kept a stack outside the front door) and i fell head over heels in love. my first legit "zine crush." awesome!

  2. Katrina Gray
    May 5, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    Dan, you continue to wow me with your delightful mobius strip of whimsy and adventure on one side and diligence and integrity on the other. I think I speak for the rest of the crew when I say that it is a pleasure to work with such a class-act, and that we're fortunate to have found a partner with as much passion for writers and writing as we do.

    (Consider your rear smooched now. The rest of us can't have all the fun.)

  3. Jen
    May 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    Thanks, Dan, for the shout out! Looking forward to the Atticus Review!

  4. Marcus Speh
    May 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    dan, you write beautifully, it's a pleasure to read these posts. it's also a great pleasure & honor to see kaffe in katmandu listed among the greats. how did we get there? ah-i know, because we love to do what we do. also, we do know how to sound a pair of tibetan bells and we've just done that generating some very fine vibes for atticus review…

    • Dan Cafaro
      May 31, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

      Marcus,
      Thanks so much for the compliment and encouragement. Your passion for literature is clear in everything you write, and as they say about work ethic and ethos, some things you simply can not teach. Here’s to tailoring our vests in like fashion and expanding the needle’s eye for our hungry brethren camels. All matters of bling aside, Atticus Review earned a notch on its belt by accommodating your terrific flash.