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September 22, 2008

The Issue #4 Launch Party: Our Little Gift to You

As we've mentioned in the last few posts, this is busy, exciting time for everyone at dislocate. Issue #4 rolls off the presses this week, our reading period for Issue #5 is underway, and to celebrate both issues, we're throwing a launch party--Thursday, September 25th, 7pm at the Loft. Local writers Dylan Hicks and Katrina Vandenberg will be reading, and of course the dislocate staff will be there. Come pick up a copy of Issue #4. Come and listen to the readings. Come talk to the staff--you might even convince some of us to go out for a drink afterwards. There will be snacks. If you live in the Twin Cities area and you love good writing and/or snacks, then come on out, because this party is our little gift to you.


It wasn't easy to get to this point; the process of assembling Issue #4 was long and difficult. So as we release that issue out into the world, maybe it's worth stopping to ask: why are we doing this? After all, putting together a literary magazine is a lot of work; it's work that we love, but it's still work. Sometimes the work stressful; we get tired and cranky and we snap at each other. And personally, I sometimes stop to think about the bazillion other literary magazines already out there, many of them are publishing very nice work, and I ask, what do we do that is different from what they do? What do we have to offer?

Well, I might mention our staff, a smart, thoughtful group of individuals whose solid judgment and idiosyncratic tastes are unique to dislocate, and I could certainly point to Issue #4 as evidence of the fine work that comes from those tastes and judgments. I might mention the issue we are working on now, the Transitions Issue, an issue we hope to fill with writing that plays with the boundaries of form and addresses the themes of change and motion that seem so present in the world and so incredibly important right now. And I'd mention that some of the writing we publish--some very, very good writing--might not ever be read if we didn't publish it.

Anyone who's worked for a literary journal or small press knows there's not much money in literature. Certainly that's the case for dislocate. And yet, despite the hard work and the lack of monetary compensation, there are many, many literary journals already on the market. These journals are in many ways are our competitors, but in some ways, we're not competitors at all. As the poet, essayist, and all around smart guy Lewis Hyde has pointed out, art and literature don't always have to move within the confines of the marketplace. Sometimes art moves better in a gift economy.

Writers don't send us their work with any expectation of monetary reward--they send their work as an offering, a gift they hope we will pass on to our readers. Some pieces we publish; some we cannot, but we're no less grateful for the gift. Of course, we do charge a (very small) fee for copies of our magazine--as much as we'd like to give it away for free, we do have expenses to cover--but in the end, this process is still about the exchange between writer and reader. We're happy to facilitate the exchange.

In that spirit, this launch party, and this whole endeavor, is a gift--to the readers and writers and sponsors and all the many people who support dislocate. So come out, join us at the Loft this Thursday--this one's for you.