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New Lit on the Block :: Magazine1

Newly launched biannual online Magazine1 operates out of Bookstore1 in Sarasota, Florida (hence the name) and publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, visual art, and hybrid works. “We’re really open to anything if you have something you don’t think fits nicely into the above categories,” says Editor-in-Chief Ben Kerns. Connections are what matter to Kerns, who hopes readers of Magazine1 are able to connect with something they didn’t think they’d connect with at first glance. “I hope that when we feature stranger pieces or pieces that make the reader reach a little further, that someone out there who encounters them for the first time can find their world widened a little bit by them.”

Connections Near and Far

These connections matter both to the larger literary community as well as right in Magazine1’s backyard. “I started working at Bookstore1,” Ben explains, “and I wanted to contribute something to the space. I had experience working on a literary magazine in grad school, so it felt like something I could set up and operate for us. As far as the mission goes, I feel like we have something of a two-pronged approach. I want the magazine to highlight and uplift writers living on the Gulf Coast of Florida (Sarasota/St. Pete/Tampa area), so I put together a call that is exclusively for people living in the area. I think it’s important for literary institutions to interact with the people who are physically close to them. I think too often literature feels like a lonely pursuit, so I hope that I can help the artists in the area find community with one another.

“With our national call I want to highlight work that challenges our ingrained understanding of writing. We encourage our submitters to send us work they have a hard time placing elsewhere. This may be because it defies genre expectations in one way or another, or the subject matter itself is challenging to the reader.”

Editorial Process

Kerns welcomes the challenge as editor, and his background as a graduate of the MFA program at Florida Atlantic University where he specialized in fiction has prepared him well for the role. “Magazine1 is a one-person operation at the moment,” Kerns shares. “I do all the reading, and as a result do not have enough time to provide feedback to our submitters, though I wish I could. I try to respond within two months of submission.”

For readers stopping by the inaugural issue of Magazine1, Kerns encourages, “We have a wide variety of pieces in our first issue (our second issue is being put together at the time of this writing), and I hope that readers will find something they haven’t encountered before with us.” Contributors to the first issue include Bubba Henson, Tanya Young, Emily Donovan, Eric Maroney, J. Billings, Megan Canella, and Seth Horton.

Start-up Surprises

Kerns reflects on his start up efforts and what surprised him most: “That people really care about literary magazines even if they’re small. When we were first setting up, I got responses and interest on Twitter when we had less than 50 followers. Random people on the internet helped me get this thing running for no other reason than that they were good and kind people. I’m really appreciative of the community that has come up around the magazine, and the writing community at large.”

Continuing to build community and connections is the future for Magazine1, as Kerns keeps expectations practical and poignant. “At this point, we hope to just keep putting out issues. We just want to read more pieces that make us think and leave us shocked.”

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