Fact-Simile, a young, independent literary journal published out of Colorado, looks more like an unremarkable neighborhood newsletter than a magazine dedicated to “push[ing] the envelope of polite society.” In fact, next to other widely circulated contemporary journals, it appears downright prosaic – an aesthetic yawn. But its homespun look belies its content. Fact-Simile offers interviews with authors, reviews of plays and short stories, and a healthy sampling of poetry representing all genres. It is professionally edited and well composed.
Accessibility is clearly the primary objective of this publication. Although Fact-Simile is independently published and likely only marginally sponsored, its threadbare format is not solely the result of financial constraint. It is not overtly “artsy”; even the title of the journal is disarmingly casual, reminiscent of the everyday lexicon of the office, not the esoteric gallery. This style of presentation of the material suggests what is important is the presentation itself, not ancillary artistic frills.
Apart from the creative title, most everything else about Fact-Simile is straightforward. There is an interview with poets Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop, a review of Collapsible Poetics Theatre by Rodrigo Toscano, and, of course, a goodly smattering of poetry. It is difficult to categorize Fact-Simile, because the editors quite plainly boast their publication as genreless. That assertion is not entirely accurate, though. One can clearly see the distillation of many schools in the work printed in Fact-Simile. If anything, this journal is genre-splitting, cutting across the margins of several disparate styles: There is prose poetry (“Poem Addressing Assumptions and Various Possibilities” by Peter Davis), modernist (“Mathias sets out to study song” by John Cross), postmodernist (“Keyboard” by Michael Alfaro), as well as run-of-the-mill free verse (“Painters’ Exhalations 435: after Winslow Homer’s High Cliff, Coast of Maine” by Felino Soriano).
The final line of Peter Davis’s “Poem Addressing Assumptions and Various Possibilities” is perhaps the best example of Fact-Simile’s breadth: “This quoting of me really rocks!” Any poet, regardless of artistic loyalties, is given the chance to publish. Anyone, including the author of the relentlessly dreadful poem “Keyboard” has a platform so long as his or her work can excite, inflame, question, and transcend. Equal parts antiestablishment and traditional (however unintentionally – Fact-Simile’s spartan design is not exactly unprecedented, nor is the artistic preoccupation with flouting rules; and it is certainly no coincidence that John Cross’s “Mathias…” looks like it came from the Gertrude Stein archives), this journal really may have something to please everyone. Further, it offers the opportunity for fledgling writers – even those who may not consider themselves writers – to publish, so long as they indulge their own desire to challenge conventions.