THE BIG NEWS for the New Pop Lit project is our receiving a “Creators of Culture” grant from a wonderful Detroit-based arts organization named Culture Source. As near as we can determine, we qualified based on several criterion:
-Our EIC’s long history of promoting overlooked writers, notably in the 2000s with the Underground Literary Alliance.
-New Pop Lit’s focus on artistic innovation and design, including with our one-of-a-kind publications. “Craft publishing”: the idea to make our publications as creative and non-generic as possible.
-Our continued experimentation with literary form. This includes our behind-the-scenes effort to completely reinvent the short story, ongoing.
The starting point for everything we do is that the literary status quo isn’t good enough.
We’ll use the graciously-awarded funds not solely to keep this project operating (it’s been touch-and-go at times), but chiefly to discover and spotlight new writing and artistic talent, with more focus on talent in metro Detroit and environs.
Toward those ends, we’ll hold a contest or three, with monetary prizes.
The grant will also enable us to create more print publications. A portion of the award will be spent on necessary equipment and supplies. (Notably, paper and ink!)
The intelligent universe has conspired to keep us ongoing a while longer. As long as New Pop Lit lasts, we’ll aspire to achieve amazing arts breakthroughs– or at least one!
THE PAST TWO YEARS have been tough ones for us, as for a lot of people. We plan to turn things around in 2022 (have already begun to)– and turn New Pop Lit into a more viable and exciting project.
Within days we’ll post at this blog a “State of the Site” announcement discussing what’s been happening.
IN THE MEANTIME, a few goals:
1.) A lot of talented new writers are out there. We haven’t failed to notice. (Good poker players that we both are, we don’t miss a thing.) We intend to connect with more of those writers.
2.) We have to do a lot more to sell our unique aesthetic ideas to literary people, and beyond. We’ll do so.
Those ideas center around:
New designs of writing and presentations of writing. For both aspects, we favor a modified 20th century modernist aesthetic. Meaning, clear, colorful, and stylish. Cultural chaos is everywhere. To be truly different, an arts project should offer an alternative to the chaos. Escape from the madness.
CLARITY (of thought and presentation) is important to us, as a foundation to build upon in endeavors to connect literature to a larger swath of the general public.
3.) At some point soon enough we’ll need to add more contributors to our staff– those in general synch with what we’re about, who can bring with them new ideas to supplement ours. As a project we’re foremost an expression of ideas.
Currently KMC and I work drudge day jobs. But give us enough time and help and we’ll unleash the full potential of this ambitious project. That’s the goal.
A host of questions are raised by the decision of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas to shut down iconic literary journal The Believer.
The Believer magazine has long been the flagship for a particular kind of upper-middle class literary self-importance. From the beginning they presented themselves as a better-than-thou cultural aristocracy, as indicated in their “belief in the good book review” and “nod to the inherent good” (per Wikipedia).
The Chief Question: Will that presumed aristocracy– including the many names published at the magazine, and the magazine’s founders– rouse themselves to save one of the pillars of their kind of literature? To date there’s been hand-wringing, but no action.
-WHY did the journal fail so spectacularly to pay its way that UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute felt compelled to drop it from their line-up?
-IS the type of precious-if-not-pretentious literary writing featured in the journal itself to blame?
-WILL there be pushback from UNLV’s faculty and students for the university’s choice to drop the publication (while at the same time spending $43 million per year on its sports teams)? Is this an indication of higher education’s real priorities? In an era when sports are dominated by gambling, and the gambling industry remains centered in Las Vegas, should a university located in that city be more concerned about the message sent by its bread-and-circuses choices? (Or, is UNLV in fact a sports program with attached university, instead of the reverse?)
In the meantime, at least one staffer– Kristen Radtke, The Believer‘s listed press contact person– has already jumped ship, taking a position with The Verge as art director.
Does anyone believe in The Believer?
(FOR THE RECORD, the author of this editorial was once discussed in an issue of The Believer, in its first year, 2003. I retain some nostalgia for its existence, am surprised no one else appears to strongly feel the same.)
NO ONE online is underground. We’re on a system this instant– the Internet– that was initiated and in large part paid for by the United States Defense Department. An electronic arrangement where every word can be recorded and tracked with a few keyboard clicks.
With our new state-of-the-art print zeens, we at New Pop Lit are partially underground. They’re handmade in-house, and unregistered. No barcodes.
Why is this important? Because print underground literature is an actual alternative– samizdat!— a free space of ideas not subject to self-appointed hall monitors and censors. Breaking the hive mind. No bureaucrats, official or unofficial. In the tradition of Thomas Paine, Davy Crockett, Walt Whitman, Stephen Crane, Robert McAlmon, the Beats– and including Alexander Solzhenitsyn and a host of other international samizdat writers. The genuine article. The authentic American yawp.
THE ANALOG EXPERIENCE
We’ve begun exploring ideas behind new analog culture (vinyl, zines, film) in a newsletter, The Analog Experience. We’ll soon send copies to our “prestige” customers– those who’ve purchased three or more of our zeens. BUT you can subscribe to four issues now at our POP SHOP.
Doing so will keep you abreast of underground happenings, ideas, and debates. Plus in some small way it keeps this project alive.
Consider it a door to another world. A portal to underground culture.
ONE of the reasons literature is in sad shape– its role in the greater culture plummeting– is that staffs of Manhattan magazines, beneath surface differences, are invariably the same. Well-educated upper-middle class climbers from the “best” schools. Usually the same schools. Their ideas on art and culture are the same.
Will they be able to recognize the radically NEW when it lands on the desk in front of them?
Why does it matter? It matters because they have the remaining promotional infrastructure for all things literary in today’s media world– an infrastructure underground publishers lack.
What we offer are ways to engage the larger culture, via more exciting literary products. We’re little different from hip-hop creators and others who’ve come from outside the cultural system and with new ideas were able to reinvigorate that system along with the culture at large. They depended on perceptive outliers among media able to spot an opportunity and jump on it.
HOW do you revive an art? Another example from pop music history is the early 1990s when groups like The Pixies and Nirvana injected pop elements into punk rock and thereby created a new hybrid. Not dissimilar to what we’re doing at New Pop Lit via our zeen creations. Check us out. Drop into ourPOP SHOP.
Our zeens, especially Extreme Zeen 2, for best use require special handling to retain their unique characteristics which place them above every other literary journal on the planet.
-DON’T smear the cover or pages with grimy or greasy hands. For example, it’s not recommended to read EZ2 directly after a.) frying and eating hamburgers, or b.) working on a car or other machinery. (If your car is an electric vehicle using no gasoline or crankcase oil, an exception may be allowed.)
-DON’T place glasses of cold beer, soda, or other beverages upon your copy of Extreme Zeen 2.
-DON’T toss EZ2 willy-nilly across a room, or at someone.
-DO NOT use EZ2 to strike a person. Or even an animal. Animals have feelings also. Or to kill insects. (It is however allowable to strike an intruder entering through a window with EZ2, if the miscreant interrupts your reading pleasure.)
-KEEP your copy of EZ2 OUT of the bathroom. The toilet paper shortage is over.
-REMEMBER, Extreme Zeen 2 is not a generic book, and must not be treated like one. It is, rather, a rare collectible.
-BEST PRACTICE. Best policy of course is to purchase two copies of Extreme Zeen 2: one for reading and admiring, the other to retain in its sealed sleeve to be placed into a safety deposit box, or a vault.
-FINAL CAUTION. Be wary of loaning your copy of Extreme Zeen 2 to any other person. Not only may they not exercise proper care and handling of it, but you may never get the issue back!
“At the Opera” in EZ2 is a cut-up multidimensional short story inspired by the innovations of avant-garde pioneers William Burroughs and Kathy Acker– but also by the editing techniques of pop music (sampling) and cinema (montage). The presumptuous goal: to create a literary collage, using public domain writing by several of the greatest novelists who ever lived.
ABOUT THE FICTION
The three other main fiction works are subtly dystopian– subliminally speculative– about where our world is now, and where it’s headed.
ABOUT THE POETRY
The poems in EZ2 were chosen specifically either for their ability to comment on an adjacent story (“Common Note” by John Zedolik commenting on “Care” by Sam Paget), OR for their ability to be part of a word-and-design fusion, where the poem is not simply accompanied by an illustration or design, but fuses with it.
THE ANALOG EXPERIENCE
Extreme Zeen 2 is the ultimate in analog literary experience, presenting words and colors which “pop” off the page and cannot be duplicated on any digital electronic screen.
THE NEW POP LIT MISSION
The New Pop Lit mission is to create publications which can engage all segments of the population– with words and presentations that are fun, stimulating, and thought-provoking. Not off-putting text-dense books, but instead, inviting attractive zeens.
Pop Lit is a new alternative writing style created in our minds as a way to avoid the generic.
ABANDON THE SAFE
We’re out to overthrow ALL of that, every shard and shred, by presenting new hybrids with the intelligence and craft of literary writing combined with the clarity and excitement of standard genre work– while taking the best of both styles to new levels.
CAN IT BE DONE?
YES it can be done! But we depend upon YOU the new writer to accomplish this, and YOU the new reader disgusted with the same-old same-old to INSIST upon it.
We ourselves in the New Pop Lit Design Studio located underground near the Detroit River in the vicinity of Wyandotte, Michigan. are working furiously toward that objective.
We may not go all the way to the Promised Land of radically new art– but we seek to cut a path toward that end. Signposts for others to follow.
This year, a magical new year first year of a new decade– The Twenties!– we’ll present more of our own attempts, as examples of our experiments.
We are mad literary scientists, using the high-tech code of language to create not monsters, but ART as shocking and powerful as any man-made monster which can be imagined. Please join us on that ambitious path.
(Listen to an audio version of this editorialhere.) *******