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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Talkng to Amy Lynn Hess, Editor of Brown Bagazine

This photo shows my collection of Brown Bagazines. On the left is issue 5, the Borders issue, laid out and folded like a map with cross points for easy poet/ poem referencing. Issue 2 is the blue essay test booklet, no exam anxiety here just this issue's manifesto theme. There is the back-to-school issue (4) that comes in the handy trapper-keeper see thru folder for better poesy viewing. At top is the namesake of this magazine, the brown bag distribution center of issue 1. Leaning on the brown bag is the CD that came with the songwriting issue (3). Not only do the presentations of each theme centered issue continue to amuse, but Brown Bagazine has managed to create a strong presence in its first five issues by continually presenting charged and innovative work.

In issue 4, Rowland Sufi's A Drama breaks down the structure used in writing a dramatic play and inserts it into the narrative so that the text begins to resemble a complicated mathmatical formula. The solution may be attainable by confronting ideas of organization and narrative structure; it's possible that all of the bard's great plays were created using this formula.
Of particular note are Tim Armentrout's prose poems in issue 5. From stagnant ice, "it's a question of how empty space insulates itself. conversations above too chilled to hold anything in. cold shoulder isn't even the tip of the iceberg. presumption like a fork in the socket of your simple life." All three of Armentrout's pieces build on these turns in the language as they layer subtle images with a dynamic rhythm producing a momentum that pulls the reader along for the ride.
In Solid Quarter fashion (four questions), we interviewed the editor of the innovative and wonderfully packaged Brown Bagazine: Amy Lynn Hess.

Solid Quarter: What made you want to start a literary magazine?

Amy Lynn Hess: I was casually flipping through Poet's Market at the end of Naropa University's Summer Writing Program in 2006, and I realized there was a distinct lack of grassroots, easy-does-it, tactile, visceral, labor-of-love-type journals that were promoting the poetic conversation. It made me want to start a literary magazine to challenge the very corporate idea of what a literary magazine or journal really is. It is a place for current writers to share their own current ideas - glossy papers and perfect-bindings not required - just thoughtful and sparky writing that begets more thoughtful and sparky writing.

SQ: Where did the idea for a magazine in a brown bag originate from?

ALH: At its best, my work is blue collar and unpretentious. There's nothing more blue collar and unpretentious than a brown bag. The link between brown bags being symbolic of the type of work I appreciate and being a marvelously inexpensive way to mail the kind of work I wanted to collect came to me one night in Boulder as I was tossing around on a pull-out loveseat under a borrowed sheet and stolen quilt. I just couldn't calm my monkey-mind after that, and from there the mission statement emerged.

SQ: Why do you work with themes in your issues?

ALH: Various writers asked for themes last year as they were planning submissions, and I responded by adding specific subtitles to each issue this year. I think it has helped move the literary conversation forward. When all of the submitting writers are thinking along the same lines, I can edit a journal that moves as though a type of conversation. Writers also have the chance to respond to one another later in the season, in the "literary conversations" issue. It's very important to me to offer a space where writers can converse and respond to one another through fiction and nonfiction poetry and prose. I also think it has been a helpful way to guide my own writing as the year progresses.

SQ: Describe brown bag's eclectic mix of contributors and contents in four words.

ALH: Black dirt; rolling sweat-stains.

For more info. on Brown Bagazine and Amy Lynn Hess' press Gypsy Daughter, visit:

Brown Bagazine Subscriptions, only $15.00 for 4 issues! Buy through PayPal on the Gypsy Daughter website.

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