Thu 11/9 @ 6:30-9PM
Roughly two years after the emergence of Literary Cleveland, the nonprofit helping to grow Northeast Ohio’s vibrant literary arts community, is taking an important step forward with the introduction of its new online literary magazine Gordon Square Review.
To celebrate the inaugural issue going live, a launch party is scheduled for Thu 11/9 at The Happy Dog on Detroit Road. The event will feature readings from contributors and contest winners, networking and raffles. Tickets are $8.
As for Gordon Square Review, Literary Cleveland received more than 800 submissions from around the globe. The first issue includes the poetry contest winner “On the Anniversary of the Kent State Shootings” by Mimi Plevin-Foust, as well as prose contest winner “The Difference Between Me and Paige Pendleton” by Shannon Ready. Each winner receives a $250 prize plus voucher for one free Lit Cleveland class.
Poetry contributors in the first issue are Bethany Brengan, Jenelle Clausen, Donna Hunt (Northeast Ohio spotlight), Jen Karetnick, Bill Lythgoe, Paula Persoleo, William Solden (Northeast Ohio spotlight), Mary Weems (Northeast Ohio spotlight) and Stephanie Choi (editing mentorship).
Prose contributors include Joe Kapitan (Northeast Ohio spotlight), Christen Kauffman, Hannah Lackoff, Phyllis Levine (Northeast Ohio spotlight), Christine Langley Mahler, Carol Pang (editing mentorship) and Nan Wigington (editing mentorship).
CoolCleveland talked to award-winning writer and Gordon Square Review editor-in-chief Laura Maylene Walter.
CoolCleveland: Considering Literary Cleveland boasts a mission to help create and nurture a vibrant literary arts community in Northeast Ohio, creating its own literary journal made sense, right?
Laura Maylene Walter: I think that’s fair. All of the credit goes to Lee Chilcote, the Literary Cleveland director. He approached me with this idea to start a journal last year. I immediately said, “That sounds fantastic.”
CC: How do you see the Gordon Square Review existing under the Literary Cleveland umbrella?
LMW: Literary Cleveland has a mission to help writers, especially writers in Northeast Ohio, and we are definitely doing that with Gordon Square Review. We are in many ways operating as a traditional journal, but we have a few special features that other journals don’t have. We offer editorial mentorships, which is basically unheard of in the literary publishing world. Usually there’s no time to work with the writer to try to improve the piece, but we approached this thinking each editor — a prose editor and a poetry editor — was going to select one piece from our general submission pile that we felt was strong, but might need a little bit of work. We took the time to contact the writer individually, work with them online with some revisions, had a dialogue and improved the piece. Now those pieces will be published in the journal. I think that’s really exciting, and something other journals aren’t doing. I have to say I was really impressed with the contest submissions. We have a lot of talent here in this area. I think this is another extension of Literary Cleveland being able to celebrate those writers.
CC: How often do you plan on publishing the Gordon Square Review?
LMW: We’re hoping to publish twice a year. Our first issue is coming out in November, and we’re hoping for late spring of next year. It’s an online journal, which it makes the publishing end a bit simpler, but it’s also a great way for people to be able to share the work with the world.
CC: Finally, it seems as though many avid readers are unaware of the literary journal world. Is it a stretch to suggest those folks, even if they’re not writers, would enjoy reading, for example, the Gordon Square Review?
LMW: The literary journal world is known to be small and sort of niche — certain types of writers often enjoy reading them. A lot of people might read literary journals for research to improve their own writing. But I agree, I wish there could be a larger, more general audience. With Gordon Square Review, hopefully we can promote locally from within this region and maybe get someone who wouldn’t typically pick up literary journal or go to a literary journal website. If we can get them to take a look at some of these pieces, they might be surprised. We have a lot of compelling work published in this issue. It’s really exciting to see what writers are doing today, both here in Northeast Ohio and also beyond.