I Am Proud

I’m not going to lie, it has taken me a lot of time to write this goodbye letter. Whether it’s because I’m overwhelmed with feelings about leaving Jenny Mag or I have some hidden denial that I’m leaving at all, I’m not exactly sure, but I’m going to do my best to put it all into words.

Ever since I heard about the Student Literary Arts Association and Jenny Magazine, I knew I wanted to be involved. I ghosted on the email list for a while until, finally after one year, I was able to make the SLAA meeting schedule work with my class schedule. I had no idea when I started going to meetings that I would eventually become Vice President of SLAA for a year and a half and create a new section in Jenny Magazine. I would’ve never even suspected that Jenny Magazine would be the first literary journal to publish one of my stories.  If anything, I was just happy to finally have found some people in the English department that I really clicked with.

There are so many memories I have from Jenny Magazine that I can’t compile them into one letter. The one feeling I remember after each premiere party, however, was an overwhelming pride that would just pour out of me. I am proud to be a part of something that promoted local authors. I am proud of all of my friends as I watch them get published and work through the ranks of Jenny Mag. I am insanely proud to have worked on a magazine that publishes plays and has devoted an entire issue to women.

I guess the thing I am proudest of is that I know Jenny Magazine will keep burning long after me and all of its current members have graduated and moved on. Something like Jenny Magazine is too powerful to lose momentum as it transitions through members because it’s bigger than all of us who work on it. Knowing that it will continue to live on makes it hard to feel sad about leaving it, because I know in the spring, and next fall, and for seasons to come, I will be able to read the next issue of Jenny Mag and see what its new stewards have made of it.

Jenny Magazine and SLAA are in good hands, and have been in good hands as long as I’ve been there. Jordan McNeil, our amazing president and head editor, has really brought something new to every issue of the Jenny, and I know she’ll keep putting in as much energy and effort as she continues as its strong and fearless leader. All of our new and old staff members not only care so much for the magazine, but are also so much fun to be around and make working together an absolute joy. I hope all of them are proud of all the work we have done so far, and I look forward to seeing what they do next.

— Amber Palmer, Vice President of SLAA and Issue 11 Playwriting Editor

Issue 11 and Winter Wheat!

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Join us on November 17 to celebrate the release of Jenny Magazine Issue 11! We’re really excited to share this special issue, which is exclusively featuring some great work by female-identifying creators. We’ll be partying at the SOAP Gallery in Downtown Youngstown starting at 7pm, and we’d love to see you there!

Also come see us at Winter Wheat! We’ll be at The Mid-American Review Festival of Writing on Saturday, November 5 at Bowling Green State University as part of the conference’s bookfair.

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Stop by our table to meet us, as well as get a copy of our Eddie Loves Debbie anthology ($5 a piece), Issue 10 or Issue 11 Companion Zines (free!). We’ll be there ready to say hi and tell you about Jenny starting at 9am.

Friday Feature: Interview with Edward A. Dougherty

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 Edward A. Dougherty, a past contributor of Jenny Magazine.

Describe your first publication. Where was it, when, and what was the piece about? How old were you at the time and how did it feel?

My first publications happened when I was in my 20s, back in the 1980s, after I graduated from undergraduate school. One that stands out was photocopied with poems and stories all jammed together; there was very little white space. The other poems were rhyming generalities. The language didn’t feel distinctive or polished. Frankly, I was a little embarrassed to be in that company, and that’s why I don’t name the journal or give other details.

What inspired your piece in the Jenny?

Primarily, I write poetry and find writing personal essays difficult, although I love lyrical essays like the title piece in Scott Russell Sanders book The Force of Spirit or “Rain and Rhinoceros” in Thomas Merton’s Raids on the Unspeakable. And so, I keep trying.

My essay “The Memorial Chain” recounts an attempt to pass along stories from one sibling to another to remember our father around the 20th anniversary of his death. It led me to consider and reconsider incidents with my dad and which one felt emblematic enough to tell one of my brothers or sisters when they called.

What got you into writing?

What got me into writing was a desire to be understood. What keeps me writing is a desire to honor my own experience and to create communion.

What do you like writing the most? Is there a certain style you prefer?

The lyrical moment, both in life and in good writing, is continually rewarding. These moments seem larger than whatever time they take to live, seem more meaningful than the story of what happened can convey, and more pleasurable — even when painful — than I deserve. Any essay, fiction, or poetry that honors such moments in language that is charged with the same energy is my preference.

What are your influences? Who are your favorite writers?

Like favorite music, it depends on my mood, my need. If I want rich and complex language, I go to Charles Wright, Gerard Manly Hopkins, Robert Hayden, or Carolyn Forche. If I want language as clear as glass so I can see the world through it, I go to Japanese haiku or W.S. Merwin or Denise Levertov or Naomi Shahab Nye. If I want mythic largeness, I might go to Galway Kinnell or Bridget Pegeen Kelly. If I need life and language concentrated to essentials, I return to Margaret Gibson and Eamon Grennan. Many of these writers span my artificial categories and nourish more than one aspect of my spirit.

What’s your proudest moment as an author?

One high point was seeing my essay referred to in a book about Denise Levertov, who I had written a fan letter to and she responded. I count her as a mentor though I never took a class or workshop with her.

Another notable experience was at AWP, feeling like a guest at someone else’s party, only to realize that my decades of independent work had put me in the conversation. I presented as part of a panel and attended a session that I realized I could have given. It was thrilling to sense my own growth and to feel at home in the community.

How has your writing developed over time?

In so many ways, it’s hard to answer. One thing does stand out, though: I spend years and years honing imagery, both my perception and my use of language. My revision process was a matter of stripping down, chiseling the bulk of words and phrases to only the most essential and evocative ones. Then, after my first two books were out, I realized that I was becoming interested in enriching the language with repetition, musical phrasing but looped and deflected. This then returned me to the essential inner/outer experience of the speaker, which could be embodied in many kinds of language, which led me to a variety of forms, lengths, and styles.

Are you currently working on anything?

I believe in working on many things at once, so that I can be generating or revising or assembling collections or whatever I have the energy and time for. My current projects are researching the creative process through reading and interviews. I’m also working on longish poems that are “talkier” than anything I’ve done, which makes me nervous and excited. I call them Discursions.

What’s your writing process?

I hand write poems, but prose I go right for the keyboard. I use cheap, recycled paper notebooks, and I fill them, following William Stafford’s advice in “A Way of Writing.” This means I write a lot of junk, but I believe it is a way of cherishing the uniqueness of my experience — events, impressions, knots of language. It’s like gathering shells on a beach. A useless collection, perhaps, but a great way to spend a few hours.

What are you currently reading?

Margaret Gibson’s forthcoming collection Ask Hereclitus.

Have you ever co-written something with another author? If so, what was that experience like?

I co-wrote a book of exercises with Scott Minar called Double Bloom: Exercises for Poets. We both teach inductively; that is, we have students write and then we process it, making whatever points from the experience and work students have. The process of gathering our own idiosyncratic exercises and then refining the progression so that a class or writing group could use them was actually great fun. We respect each other, maintain a sense of humor, and share a common goal. I am very proud of that book.

Have you ever worked with a medium other than writing? Or collaborated with someone in another medium with your writing?

I have collaborated with a composer, Will Wickham, on a project that resulted in a multidisciplinary show or choral and instrumental music as well as poems read by a single actor. It’s called Where Sacred Waters Divide, and one of the presentations is available on YouTube. (You have to hear Rose read the hell out of a piece around 51 mins into it. It’s about a woman who is at the firehouse when her father calls in that his truck is being caught up in the flood; he was killed and she lives with that moment all her life.)

The experience of writing poems on a theme (water) and on a deadline (2-3 months) only worked because Will is remarkably gifted, enthusiastic, and creative. I felt utter freedom to explore all kinds of dramatic monologues, lyrical descriptions, and other approaches, knowing that Will would find kernels to work with. That a whole chapbook came from it was just a bonus!

I also created “emblems” which are a short poem with an image. Mine are abstract paintings, rather than the traditional illustration of a saying or moral, so I was updating the form a little. My process was to create hundreds of these 3 x 3 images and meanwhile I wrote over a hundred poems of 3-7 lines, completely independent of each other. Combining them was a whole other process, one that stalled me many times. Finally, I moved quickly and intuitively, dealing out the images on black cardboard and just choosing what I responded to — fast, without thought, without planning regarding the poems. I did the same with the poems, revising as I did. Then, in several rounds, again quickly, quickly, I brought them together. Trying them on, in a sense. They were ultimately displayed at the Atrium Gallery in Corning, NY and again at the Word & Image Gallery in Treadwell, NY, and individual emblems are appearing in journals.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

Ladies of Jenny: Meet Kayla Jeswald

In celebration of our upcoming women’s issue, we wanted to introduce you to a few of the great ladies of Jenny Magazine. Our staff is currently reading through submissions for Issue 11, dedicated to exclusively featuring writing and art by female-identifying creators, which should be released in November. Stay tuned for more!

Kayla Jeswald
Jenny Magazine Staff Member
Issue 11 Poetry Team

Major: MFA in Fiction

My preferences are all over the place when it comes to reading. I am a big fan of Alice Sebold, John Green, and Chris Barzak. I do like stories with a bit of a darker side to them; those always peak my interest. Right now, I am reading The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King. My favorite things I read this year so far, include Citizen by Claudia Rankine, Selected Poems by Mary Ruefle, and Sweet Nothing by Richard Lange.

I am currently working on my thesis to graduate. My thesis focuses on mental illness within my main character. I wanted to discuss this because I feel like mental illness is a bit taboo in our culture, and I wanted to break that barrier. I used to write a lot of poetry, but the last few years I have really enjoyed writing nonfiction pieces and fiction pieces. I am currently in a flash fiction course, so I am challenging myself to write very short, precise pieces, which is new for me.

When not writing or reading, I am probably working. When I do have free time I like to cook, hang out with my family or friends, play with my puppy, or do something active. I am pretty excited about fall coming up. I love the crisp air, so spending some time outside will definitely be a must.

Friday Feature: Interview with Fabiyas M.V.

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 Fabiyas M.V., a past contributor of Jenny Magazine.

Describe your first publication. Where was it, when, and what was the piece about? How old were you at the time and how did it feel?

I was first published in a regional magazine in Kerala, India in 1986; I was 12 years old. The poem was about nature. I still remember those heavenly inspired moments with wonder.

What inspired your piece in the Jenny?

“From Gaza” was inspired by the cruel massacre of innocent women and children in Gaza.

What got you into writing?

I got into writing through genetic influence, inspiration, and burning experience in my life.

What do you like writing the most? Is there a certain style you prefer?

I like poetry; I prefer to write free verse.

What are your influences? Who are your favorite writers?

The greatest influence in my life is my dad M.V. Alikutty, who was a writer in Malayalam language. My favorite writers are William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, Pearl S Buck, and Robert Frost.

What’s your proudest moment as an author?

It was when my book Kanoli Kaleidoscope was published by US publisher PunksWritePoemsPress.

How has your writing developed over time?

I know I’ve steadily progressed from the immature to the mature, acquiring depth and variety.

Are you currently working on anything?

Yes: I am giving finishing touches to my first book of short fiction.

What’s your writing process?

I scribble what flows spontaneously out of my mind, and I arrange them in order later, giving finishing touches.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Literary Hatchet Issue 14.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

Friday Feature: Interview with Syntax & Salt

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 Ani King, editor in chief of Syntax & Salt: Stories, A Journal of Magical Realism.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

While I think we have pretty eclectic tastes at Syntax & Salt, we definitely lean towards literary works with a strong, defined voice. Ken Liu, Catherynne Valente, Kelly Link, Karen Russell, Nnedi Okorafor, Isabel Allende, to name a very few, are among some of our overall favorites who have incredible flexibility with their tone and style.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

This is bound to be an incredibly long list, but in particular I love publications that always manage to attract and publish the unique or surprising. I try to read a variety: well-established publications like Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Apex, Fairy Tale Review, and Tor.com; equally wonderful magazines that are still on the road becoming more well known, such as Strangelet, Axolotl, Sick Lit, Spilled Milk, or Inklette. There’s so much out there to admire, with the ability to easily set up online now.

What can a writer do to increase chances of being accepted?

Following submission guidelines is always a plus, but also taking the extra time to make sure a story is really ready to be submitted. Get critical feedback — often there are small plot holes that another reader might catch. Make sure characters have agency and purpose and don’t exist merely as a story device. Bend the rules, throw away old tired tropes.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

We strive for an array of voices and styles, rather than intentionally looking for an issue theme. I believe in the two issues we’ve put out there is at least one story for most readers to love, if not more. I hope too that the art is visually arresting.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

I would love to see much, much more work from underrepresented communities, particularly women of color, LGBTQA writers, and stories from differently-abled persons. I believe that the literary community as a whole has an obligation to provide a place for these voices to be heard, and to eschew accepting stories that instead fetishize or appropriate from these groups.

What made you want to be an editor?

It wasn’t something I expected to happen, but in the case of Syntax & Salt, it happened I think because the magazine was my baby, and when the incredible group of writers that I run it with sat down to talk through it, likely the deciding factor was my deep control freak nature.

In all seriousness though, I really enjoy the detail work involved: layout and site design, working with the authors to make sure we’ve got everything right, choosing or creating the art, and enthusiastically promoting the work we feature. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the world’s greatest managing editor (Hi, Chelsea!), and the best readers who love magical realism.

What kind of things do you write?

For the most part I write short speculative fiction. I enjoy experimental forms and flash fiction quite a bit, though I’ve been turning my hand to poetry and plotting some longer works. I always have at least ten plates in the air, and I’m hoping to complete a collection of short stories this year that will stay together.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

I’m a very prose-driven reader, and I think that syntax, like salt, can be the difference between a bland read, or a perfectly seasoned one.

What inspired your aesthetic?

The whole S&S staff and I have been in a writing group together for almost two years, and we found ourselves driven to read and write a lot of magical realism. At some point we realized that the next natural step was to provide a home for others to do the same.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

I aim to publish excellent stories and provide a home for the new, the weird, the old reimagined, and for first time authors, to give them a great experience in submitting and working through the editorial process.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

Ladies of Jenny: Meet Beesan Odeh

In celebration of our upcoming women’s issue, we wanted to introduce you to a few of the great ladies of Jenny Magazine. Submissions for Issue 11, dedicated to exclusively featuring writing and art by female-identifying creators, close on September 10. We hope to see your work!

Beesan Odeh
Jenny Magazine Staff Member
Issue 11 Creative Nonfiction Co-Editor

Major: MFA in Fiction

What I like to read? A good story. Tolkien and his hobbits are my absolute favorites, but I also dig S.E. Hinton’s greasers. I don’t lean towards any one genre. I’ll try anything, whether it’s fantasy, realism, or magical realism. As long as it has that something special. As for what I’m currently reading, I’ve been meaning to get my hands on Laura Whitcomb’s Under the Light for a while now, the sequel to A Certain Slant of Light, which is one of my favorites.

When it comes to what I like to write, well, for the longest time, I wrote a lot of contemporary realism — or tried to at least — because it was familiar. Comfortable. I lost my confidence in fantasy, and even magical realism, after struggling with it when I was younger, which is silly because I was a kid and inexperienced and no one really likes their middle school or high school scribbles anyway. I just recently attempted fantasy for the first time in a long while and was pleasantly surprised. It’s something I would love to work with when all the right pieces come to me.

When I’m not reading or writing, I’m off messing with arts and crafts — tons of glitter — or trying to fix something around the house. I love music, too. I’m an Elvis Presley fanatic. Getting a new record player not too long ago, I’ve been running around collecting Elvis vinyl and fangirling. A little strange. Probably nerdy. But it’s all right.