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Some Notes About H_NGM_N

Welcome to H_NGM_N #6. Thanks to The Hold Steady & My Morning Jacket for helping me put this issue together. Real thanks to Eric Appleby for everything he does to make this work. The notes below owe much to a document written by Ted Berrigan called “Some Notes about ‘C’” which accompanies the “C” papers/archive located at Syracuse University.

PS Read the whole issue.

— Nate Pritts, EIC.


*presented to the Writing by Degrees conference, as part of a panel on online publishing & editing. University of Binghamton, NY: 19-21 Oct. 2006.


Some Notes About H_NGM_N

The first issue of H_NGM_N came out in October of 2001 mostly because I realized I could put it out, & that I should. I had spent part of that past summer in my hometown of Syracuse, NY, with special permission to noodle around in the Collections Archives at Syracuse University where they had, among other things, all of Ted Berrigan’s papers pertaining to “C” magazine. If you haven’t seen a copy of it, or don’t otherwise know, “C” was a legal-sized, mimeographed magazine, stapled down the side, that came out starting in 1963.

So I knew I wanted to start a magazine & I knew I wanted it to look like “C” as my homage to Berrigan’s love song to New York City. At the time I was on a university fellowship at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, working on my PhD. The English department had a mimeograph machine. This seemed to me to be a major obstacle overcome. I borrowed a book of criticism from Dr. Skip Fox, my advisor & a poet himself, & found a marginalia doodle that looked like a game of hangman gone wrong. (Skip’s influence can also be felt through the fact that I had taken a class with him the previous spring about small press publishing, a class that resulted in my partnering with Matt Dube to produce the first LAZY FROG PRESS chapbooks, the press that would be “home” to H_NGM_N for its first two issues). That doodle, which he claims not to remember doing & who am I to doubt him, would be the cover to our first issue & is still our main “logo,” if literary magazines can be said to have a logo. It also gave me the name H_NGM_N.  Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that.

The reason why the letter “a” is deleted is a secret. Mostly, I thought it looked interesting in a way that HANGMAN didn’t, but because also it presented a coded introduction to the aesthetic I wanted the magazine to embody – writing that would make the reader work, that would force the reader to become involved in the happening moment of the poem.

Gathering work for the first issue was easy, since all the poets were people I had some connection with – friends or friends of friends. This was another early key to our ongoing aesthetic. Though I don’t only publish work by people I know, I can say that I am “friends” with probably more than half, probably more than ¾ of the people who have been in H_NGM_N (although sometimes the friendship developed after they had submitted some poems). This sense of community & camaraderie is important to the environment I think any literary magazine would be happy to foster.

After our first issue came out we got noticed by the online magazine run by Andrei Codrescu out of New Orleans, EXQUISITE CORPSE. It said H_NGM_N was “an actual mimeo mag resurrected from the Past, but with poetry from the future.” I always liked how they capitalized the “P” in “Past.” Also, later on, Bill Lavender mentioned H_NGM_N in his editor’s introduction to the anthology ANOTHER SOUTH, featuring all kinds of “experimental” “southern” writing, put out by the University of Alabama press. I was feeling pretty good about all of this.

Then it took a long time to get our second issue out. I wrote my dissertation & graduated; I got married (again) & I got a job. I moved, twice. The second print issue came out in the spring of 2004. At some point during all of this I started to think about making H_NGM_N an online magazine (I was thinking about it in October of 2004 because I said so in an interview conducted by Clay Matthews for an issue of the online journal MiPoesias (19.2)).

I should mention that the idea of moving H_NGM_N online would have remained simply an idea were it not for my old MFA buddy Matt Hart introducing me to Eric Appleby. Eric came on board as webmaster, as enthusiastic as I was to try something new, to deal with the challenges of putting a literary magazine completely online. In the first year we only crashed once.

With the move online came the option of developing the content in H_NGM_N in several different directions. I had the option of presenting more material than I was able to in the past. Issue #3 had about the same number of poets that #2 had, but also initiated the EP section. The idea was that I wanted to be able to present larger selections of a particular poets work, accompanied by an aesthetic statement, a kind of manifesto. I don’t really have any guidelines for this. I simply felt like this was an important context for me as a reader – blending the creative with some heady thought about motivations/inspirations / craft.

#3 featured Matt Hart & David Saffo; #4 featured Ethan Paquin & Anthony McCann; #5 Joyelle McSweeney, Richard Meier & Jake Adam York. #6 will be out at about the same time as this piece sees the light of day so it’s no secret – Philip Jenks & Danielle Pafunda. There is no secret to how I solicit writers for the EP section; I simply send a letter to writers whose work I would like to see more of. In fact, when I solicit a writer for H_NGM_N, in any capacity, I usually just tell them to send me the work they’re willing to stand behind & I, in turn, will stand behind it too.

Moving online also allowed me to present portfolios of artwork, something that would have been cost prohibitive for a little unaffiliated lit magazine. I’m especially proud of this – putting the work of visual artists in front of writers, especially when the process of so many of these creative individuals is very similar.

H_NGM_N has also grown to include reviews (particularly of chapbooks) & the FROM section (featuring sections from long poems, sequences & serials). #6 will initiate another new section, THANK YOU, which will serve as an occasional feature of appreciation for one influential writer. First up is Steve Orlen & the section will feature essays about him & his work by writers like Tony Hoagland & David Rivard, as well as new poems by Steve & a review of his new & selected volume.

I should say that moving online has been a technological challenge but has been all good in every other way imaginable. We are well known, recognized, & widely read. We get many submissions, many “hits” & I think have been generally successful in our goal of providing a home for a particular style of poetry, a style that didn’t necessarily have a ready home before H_NGM_N showed up. When a new issue of H_NGM_N is ready, I send an email out to lots & lots of people, & these people post the note on their blogs or to different list servs that they may belong to & before I know it the “promotion” is done.

It’s worth saying that H_NGM_N B_ _KS is a continuously vital part of the H_NGM_N picture; we’ve come out with 6 print chapbooks to date & are now working on an offshoot magazine, COMBATIVES, which has much in common with the spirit of the original few issues of H_NGM_N – a rebellious desire to say something so loud that everyone can hear it. But I suppose a discussion of COMBATIVES & even H_NGM_N B_ _KS is best left to a context different from this one. Let me close by saying that H_NGM_N, the online journal of poetry, poetics, &c., is my project, though many people help out with it. Nothing happens with the magazine that I don’t want to; every piece ever published in H_NGM_N was there because I wanted it there. The journal is as much a statement of my aesthetics as my own creative work is - & it is all a very vital part of what I see as my responsibility to POETRY, in this our talking America & world.

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