Digital Americana is living up to its name; it is redefining literary magazines in the digital world and ever enhancing the reading experience. This special “Redact” issue encourages breathing new air into the writing already published there.
The issue opens up with an essay explaining the background of redaction and erasure’s form: “Redaction literature comments on and creates a dialogue with received forms, ideas and texts.” The essay explains that “Visual poetry offers a chance to find overlooked or missing words, to restore as well as delete, to highlight the beauties of lost phrases and heal or bypass severed connections.”
This special issue encourages this visual poetry, this hashing, this deleting, this recreating. The iPad app features a way to take different colored markers and block out words or entire sections of pieces of the magazine, making your own poetry amongst what already exists. In a video featured on their site, new users found it easy to use and enjoyed being able to create from what was already there.
Speaking of which, there is quite a lot already there. There are stories, poetry, interviews, reviews, and art. While I cannot speak of the iPad app (though I assume it to be similar), the iPhone issue was easy to navigate. To read a piece you scroll down and to move to the next, you scroll across. There is also a button on the top to return to the menu or to “home.”
“You’re Not Safe Here” by David Cameron was unlike anything I had read before. Right from the beginning, I felt unsure about the main character; can I really like him? Now selling real estate and running open houses, he is a retired Catholic priest, an alcoholic who left the church because he is now a sex offender. The character, while perhaps not likeable, is insanely interesting, and the scenario—an open house event he must host while nursing a massive headache in this house which has no sink, has a trick bedroom door that locks people inside it, and has a gigantic Jacuzzi in the basement—is original and full of tension.
“We Killed Them” by Thomas Pescatore is a poem that is often all too truthful:
Artists don’t sit inside all
day to write and type and suffer,
they play on their iphones and macs
with dull eyes editing music files,
remixing old sounds, taking
photographs that seem
somehow older even though they
don’t know why . . .
This is a poem I think would be fun to use the redact feature on. Another that would be fun would be Jeanpaul Ferro’s “Throw Like a Girl” which is full of intense and eye-popping images. It starts, “We thought there was blood on our hands / from all the strawberries that we had picked.”
Andrew Kozma contributes a flash fiction piece titled “Nebraska” which discusses the character’s move to D.C. from “Smack Dab.” No matter what he does to describe the town to people of the big city, they all still think of the typical small town featured in the movies. Eventually, even he thinks of it this way.
With there being so many online magazines cropping up daily, it is hard to see which ones will survive. But with the places Digital Americana is headed, I think it’ll be around for a while, paving new ways for us to experience literature, new ways to carry it with us wherever we go, new ways to react to it and redact to it.