Friday Feature: Interview with Arian Cato
Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Arian Cato, Editor in Chief of Brev Spread.
What style of work do you prefer, if any?
We don’t outright exclude from consideration any specific genre or style, but personally genre fiction and anything hinting at making a buck as a primary motive are at the bottom of the list, more so the latter than the former. I am currently trying to bridge the gap between the magazine and the journal, the academic type whose worth is first determined by the words “peer reviewed” before making it to any other chopping block, not seeing that the point of publication is to universalize and in doing so, imposing onto any historical situation a new array of peers. I am starting to think that the “peer reviewed” label is effectively putting a hood over critical thinking of the very term that precedes all else, that is, the “peer.” Of course, we need standards, and we need reassurances, but if every editor stated her standards in the open and was morally upright, then perhaps we could finally banish this trend for validation that slows down the communal working through of fearless projects.
Of course there is a huge problem even before this concern for the peer, namely the dwindling of the respect and venues for the humanities (see the many PhD graduates who are struggling to find a job that should rightly be theirs, were money not an issue), but it still shocks me how few even get past stereotypes to get around to submitting their theoretical works. Naturally, we won’t be lending the weight of many an established publication out there, but here I must insist that one’s theoretical work is pointless if it doesn’t brave the times in order to void part of it in the name of some eventual present that they can incorporate themselves under, and further. With that said, I do hope to see in our inbox many more translations and theoretical works.
As to stories and poetry, we ask for critically refined works that have spent a long time under the red ink and in thought, while also keeping one ligature in the heart. We started years ago as an organ for transplanting into everyone new capillaries through which the heart can beat, but now I would love to see the brain struggle with the immense weight of our heritage. This can be said as to “styles of works”: To hell with your intuition, I want to see that intuition worked to the bone.
Other than that, we are also in a lot of need for visual art. We would love to have willing artists illustrate passages from certain submissions.
What can a writer do to increase chances of being accepted?
Work that has been worked, and that makes us work. A constant in my tastes is the love for front-to-back cohesive structures that afford plenty of discoveries upon rereads. Another one is the use of wordplay, not for the sake of wit or bravado or showing off, but for the sake of theme development and the emotional instigation at the end of every piece. You can be as funny and as smart as you want, but it won’t even be for naught if it doesn’t get past the author. We live at and in a time, and I want us all to start reckoning with the fact of the other — otherwise, submit elsewhere or keep your works to yourself. Thematically, then, works that deal with community and the public are of course some of the more urgent works.
What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?
We are very personal, and starting with our name, we are also philosophically inclined. Brev is basically managed by two people, and I respond to all of our correspondences. For the first 14 issues I workshopped many of the pieces that I saw fit for bringing up into any shortlists, and even now I am more than happy to give a piece some sort of editorial review if anyone asks and if the piece is exciting enough. Whereas before we were completely open, now we are a bit more selective with our time and publications, exercising a much more engaged and self-conscious approach to our craft. This said, I must add to the first two traits: We care a lot about the potential and personality of each submission and contributor.
What types of submissions are on your wish list?
Translations from Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and Central and Southeastern Europe; theoretical works on contemporary philosophy (particularly those in the wakes of Marx and Lacan); long stories; rhyme poetry and epics; and illustrations for each.
The other key member here would like RPG proposals and treatments, which I think is a fantastic idea.
Where did you get the name of your magazine?
We started as a print-at-home small publication distributed by hand at select places, so “Brev” was picked to suggest the concision of each issue. It is also meant to allude to bravery, since we saw ourselves as a sort of guerrilla avant-garde of the small magazine. As to the form of the publication, we situate ourselves out of the magazine and journal binary by calling ourselves a “spread,” which is reminiscent of the idea of the broadsheet and the miscellanea, since initially we asked our readers on our site to print out our small issues themselves and to spread them at will.
What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?
New worlds and the appropriate words.
Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.