The Birds We Piled Loosely (or BPL for short) is an online quarterly interested in publishing “anything we can fit into our magazine,” according to Editors Johnathan McClintick and Nicole Letson. For that reason, readers coming to BPL can expect to find just about any kind of writing: from villanelles, to essays, etc. And art can range from photography, painting, illustrations, graphic design etc. BPL is published as a pdf (free to download) because the editors found using InDesign allows them to more easily format non-conventional pieces. Also, McClintick notes, “we can curate the magazine so that the pieces inside read together in a complementary order, and the magazine can readily be shared and circulated.”
McClintick says BPL “started on a whim, but as we’ve gotten more engaged with the work, we really see it as a chance to help writers and artists get more visibility online.” Like many start-up publications, there’s no paycheck for those involved, but nor does the publication ask for payment. “All our work is voluntary and we see it as community service,” comment McClintick, “We love having the chance to share the work of others and give readers the chance to find more work like it. This is why our contributor’s bios contain links to other work they’ve done or are doing. We want readers to read more and discover more; our magazine is just a starting point for them.”
Some featured contributors to the first two issues include Emma DeMilta, Glen Armstrong, Karen J. Weyant, Luke Thurogood, Rob Cook, Robin Wyatt Dunn, Patty Somlo, John Colasacco, who has a book coming out this May through CCM Press, and Howie Good, whose Fugitive Pieces proceeds will be donated to charity.
And the name – why The Birds We Piled Loosely? The answer reveals a whimsical side: “We liked birds! And besides, the great danes piled loosely would just sound silly,” McClintick jokes. “In reality,” he says, “we came up with a shortlist of several different names and passed them around to friends and settled on the name people liked the most.” The result is indeed intriguing and unique.
In the future for BPL, the editors want to look for ways to incorporate video and audio, consider print options and different website designs, and feature a sample of an author’s newly released book. Already, issue three will feature poems from Rob Cook’s new book Asking My Liver for Forgiveness.
For submissions, the editors tell writers to submit “text pieces” instead of any one genre because they don’t want to discourage people from submitting in any medium or style of writing. As for art, they’re really open to anything there as well. Letson’s background and career is in visual design, while McClintick’s is in writing and editing, so they complement each other in the type of work they’re looking for.
McClintick stresses to writers: “Understand that we won’t know your name or publication history when we review the piece. We’ve rejected writers claiming they had over a 100 publications and accepted writers who have never been published. We’ll take a look at any type of writing and judge it on its merit alone. Name dropping publications when you submit your piece doesn’t impress us.”
McClintick and Letson offer this final word: “We really believe in the work we’re doing and in our contributors! We want to thank them again. This magazine is really for our contributors and readers, and we can only hope that when someone opens the magazine that they can see all of this in our work.”