North Dakota Quarterly

I’ve been trying to stay on top of the North Dakota Quarterly website and blog this summer. This involves making sure that we have at least one post a week and keeping track of changes to our subscription website at University of Nebraska Press and our submission website via Submittable. Fortunately, I’ve also had some help from colleagues on the editorial board who have offered some thoughtful “Short Takes.”  NDQ 86 1 2 cover  1  dragged

This week’s posts at NDQ are pretty special. On Tuesday, I posted the introduction to our special issue on the late William H. Gass and, today I posted a rather long (by interweb standards) interview with the author. In the interview he touches on Gass’s friendship with William Gaddis, the Beats, and some of the leading lights in post-modern literature in the late 20th century. Both are by Crystal Alberts. 

These two article introduce a special section in this issue of NDQ that is a tribute to William Gass from some of his closest colleagues and admirers. It’s definitely worth checking out and while I’m proud of every issue of NDQ, I’m particularly proud of this one. Check it out.

Ephemera

I’ve been thinking a good bit about ephemera lately and how to distinguish between things that should be kept and cherished and things that have value in the moment, but there’s no particular reason to keep them in our lives and world. I always think of newspapers and magazines as ephemera. They are useful to read on a lazy Sunday, but are best kept (and slowly altered and recombined and sifted) in our memories than on the end table in the living room or in a stack near the most comfortable chair in the house.

A few things promoted me to think about the ephemeral.

First, one my goals for North Dakota Quarterly was to make the entire run of the journal available on various online platforms. The idea is that people could delve back into the Quarterly and find overlooked gems or return to reflect on an essay or story. To that end, I’ve linked to a bunch of the NDQ archive online and made it available via the HathiTrust, the archives has seen a good flow of traffic, which is heartening, but only about 5% of the visitors click through. 

One of the things that I’ve come to realize about little magazines is that they have an ephemeral quality to them. The desire among some members of my editorial board to produce NDQ in paper was grounded not in the persistence of the medium, but, in someways, in its ephemerality, in parallel with magazines and newspapers, compared to the easy persistence of digital formats. 

Second, I read a few posts lately about the carbon footprint of websites and the emerging low-tech green web. I’ve toyed with the idea refashioning my blog as a static site. This is partly because static sites are lightweight, quick to load, and widely compatible with even the most simple devices and use less energy. I also wonder whether I a very lightweight static site would complement a version of my blog where I produce a single post per day and that post to overwrites the previous days post. This would create a more ephemeral quality to my web writing. The ideas and text would be accessible for a day and then vanish (or move onto a more permanent home in an article or a conference paper or something else).  

An experiment like this would both be liberating for me (as I could be more provocative when I am less worried about the archive of my site being easily accessible forever), but I also could write more in the moment with less responsibility to trace some kind of coherent arc of thought.

Less selfishly, it would also celebrate the vibrancy of media ephemerality not as producing idea that don’t persist, but as a way to create ideas that only persist within the person who reads them and are not burdened by reference to a particular text. 

Finally, I started think more about the tension between possessions and things. The idea that we possess a thing implies its persistence. An embrace of the ephemeral, on the other hand, privileges the momentary utility of an object. As various popular voices have urged us to minimize our possessions and maintain a trim and tidy personal space, it seems to me that they’ve drawn greater attention to the value of ephemeral objects that are useful and then passed on or discarded once they’ve served their immediate purpose. On the one hand, this might create a world where there are fewer things encroaching on our space. On the other hand, personal austerity rarely is possible without access to a wide range of services and objects that are ready to use, but also at arm’s length. Useful and ephemeral things appear in our lives and disappear back into the margins when their purpose is fulfilled. (I’ve argued, playfully, that pickup trucks are like that. Despite being a symbol of bourgeois excess, they are often useful, and truck owners often share their vehicles with a community of friends and neighbors who, for various reasons, do not want to burdens of truck ownership.)   

Download NDQ 85 for Free

One of the things that makes me a kind of terrible publisher (and editor) is that I love to give stuff away. In most cases, this doesn’t matter because the editing and production of the work in question is a more or less sunk cost.

In other cases, it DOES matter. We’re giving away volume 85 of NDQ. The hope is to attract subscribers, contributors, and supporters (even if they just buy a paper copy of NDQ 85 having found the download engaging enough to read). My hope is that we can develop enough of a subscriber base over the next two or three years to allow us to release every volume of NDQ as a free download. Here’s I’m following the idea of unlocking the commons that folks like Jason Kottke and Tim Carmody have bandied about lately. In a nutshell, the idea is to encourage folks to subscribe not to get access to content, but to support making content available for more and more people. I want to work with our new publishers at University of Nebraska Press to set some realistic subscriber targets for making at least one issue a year available as a free download. Since many of our potential subscribers are also contributors, I feel like there is a real benefit to expanding the access to the Quarterly and developing a sense of community among readers, contributors, and subscribers.

So here’s my official blurb on making volume 85 available for free download. Check it out, if you want. I think it’s pretty great, but, as I said, I’m kind of a terrible publisher (and editor). 

Little magazines like North Dakota Quarterly are so resilient and enduring because people contribute to them, people subscribe to them, and people read them

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To celebrate all the people who have helped to make North Dakota Quarterly possible, we’re very happy to release the entire volume 85 as a free download. Go here to download it. (If you’re not sure you can handle the commitment of a free download, you can sample some of the great content in this volume here.) 

We also have reopened poetry and non-fiction submission until the end of the May with another reading period scheduled for September 1 – November 30. Send us your poetry and non-fiction! Fiction will remain open throughout the year as always. Go here to submit.

As NDQ moves forward, we’d love to be able to share the contents of each issue for free, but to make this happen, we need have a healthy base of subscribers.  So, if you can and you like what we do, please subscribe. Also, while you’re at it buy a copy of NDQ 85!

NDQ in Review

The penultimate thing that I do before submitting an issue of North Dakota Quarterly to our publisher, the University of Nebraska Press, is write my editor’s notes. Since I’ve only done this twice, I don’t have a very firm grasp of the genre, and I’m never sure whether I should be lyrical and poetic or matter of fact. As a result, I tend to be awkward, but in some ways this is how I roll.

Here’s my Editor’s notes for NDQ 86.1/2.

Editor’s Note

Projects like North Dakota Quarterly depend on their community to survive. The members of the NDQ community offers us their writing, and they give us their time by reading what we write, edit, and produce. In some case, they even give us material support by subscribing to the journal.

In 2017, we decided to suspend accepting new individual subscriptions to NDQ. We were worried that budget shortfalls would make it difficult to service new individual subscriptions while still maintaining our longstanding institutional subscribers. It was a tough to decide to continue to accept institutional subscription, but we felt that each volume in a library might reach more readers than those in individual hands and, in this age of austerity, that it would be hard to convince libraries to renew a dropped subscription. We also hoped that our individuals subscribers would come back to the Quarterly when we regained our financial footing.

With issue 86.1/2, we once again welcome individual and institutional subscribers. At the same time, we recognize that not all of our readers can afford to subscribe to NDQ or haven’t decided whether to support our remarkable community in a material way. As a result, we’ll do all we can to make the content of NDQ available to everyone on our website. If you like what we do, however, and can afford an NDQ subscription, we ask that you do subscribe to support the community of readers, writers, and editors who make NDQ what it is. At the same time, if you like what you read, we encourage you to submit your creative work. Finally, let us know what you think of the Quarterly, whenever the spirt moves you, by dropping me a line at billcaraher@gmail.com.

Finally, we hope you enjoy this double-issue’s remarkably diverse content which includes five stories and five essays as well as over 50 poems. The final section of the issue is a tribute to the late Bill Gass edited by Crystal Alberts. The range of moods, styles, and themes present in this issue of the Quarterly traces the contours of our community, and I look forward to continuing to do my part to ensure that it thrives.

~

The final thing that I do before sending an issue of NDQ to our press is to review our content to get a sense for how the volume breaks down.

Volume 85, which is out at the printers looked like this:

UNP measures the length of a volume by character counts. Volume 85 was 430,000 characters. So, by character, NDQ 85 was 52% non-fiction largely owing to the special section on the Humanities in the Age of Austerity. 29% fiction and 18% poetry. By number of contributions, it was an even 12% for non-fiction and fiction and 76% poetry. Men wrote 75% of the content, which is too high, but basically representative of our pool of submissions. This is something that we need to fix.

The first double issue of volume 86, numbers 1/2, will clock in at around 425,000 characters (whatever that means) and include 5 short stories (32% by character count), 6 non-fiction pieces (21%), and 51 poems (20% which is probably inflated a bit since even a short poem counts as a page or 1700 characters), plus a section guest edited by Crystal Alberts on Bill Gass (26%). There are 48 authors (71% by men), and 76 submissions (68% by men).

Thinking about Publishing at NDQ and The Digital Press

As my post yesterday probably suggested, I’m thinking a good bit about the practice and theory of academic publishing these days. In particular, I’m interested in how digital media shapes workflow, logistics, and the character of both archaeological and more broadly academic knowledge making. My work with The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota Quarterly have increasingly become central to this research in ways that I had not anticipated.

So this little update today is both an effort to get my thoughts in order about how publishing and editing really works and to keep people interested in both NDQ and The Digital Press in the loop on what’s been going on with these projects.

1. Proposals. Recently I’ve received a couple of pretty exciting proposals to review and we’ve been able to give some pretty positive feedback to the proposers. There has been some pretty interesting recent conversation about book proposals in the field of ClassicsandClassical Archaeology (co-authored by a pair of Digital Press authors!). This got me thinking about the current way that publishers acquire manuscripts and the role of publishers, editors, and authors. I’ve resisted producing a standard questionnaire for prospective authors and, instead, have asked my individuals proposing to The Digital Press to produce “a 3-5 page document that outlines the book’s content, as well as its length, format, audience, relationship to existing publications. It’s also helpful to present the qualifications of the authors (or contributors) and a prospective timeline.” I’m not sure that this slightly more free-form proposal process necessarily produces better proposals, but I like to think that it introduces the relationship between press and the authors as more familiar and a bit less structured by a set of fixed expectations that dictate the value of a project.    

2. From Proposal to Manuscript. In particular, I’ve thought a good bit about the liminal zone between when a proposal is accepted and a manuscript is delivered. As an author currently navigating that zone with my own book, I can attest to the feeling of being unmoored and adrift, but still in the harbor. There’s an expectation that the book “will happen” but at the same time, the anxieties of producing something that the publisher, reviewers, and community finds valuable.

This is a pretty stressful place and judging by conversations with my colleagues, I recognize that any number of book projects find themselves smashed against the shoals long before the final manuscript can be delivered. I wonder whether the structural division between the publisher and the author have something to do with this ambivalent space. I’ve marveled at the generosity, for example, of my editors at North Dakota Quarterly who often work closely with authors during the revision process for articles and stories and feel extraordinary gratitude toward Paul Mullins and Chris Matthews at Historical Archaeology who shepherded my first effort to write an article on North American archaeology through the revision and publication process. My hope is that my press can be aware of the risks of the post-proposal, pre-manuscript experience and work – somehow – to make it easier to navigate. 

3. Peer Review. One of the most exciting things at present is that The Digital Press has three books currently circulating for peer review: two books and one edited volume. All three works represent significant investment on the parts of two authors and the editor as well as the press. As a result, peer review is less about whether the piece should be accepted or rejects, but rather how we can work to improve the manuscript to make into the strongest book possible for the author and the publisher. The reviews continue to be anonymous (or at least the reviewers are not known to the authors), but the review process becomes a chance to develop, improve, and nuance the manuscript.

4. Workflow. I’m completely invested in a publishing workflow these days, particularly for North Dakota Quarterly. The movement of an accepted manuscript through the pre-production process is neither completely automated or completely person. The accepted manuscript hits my desk, goes out to my copy editor (at least for non-fiction and poetry, our fiction editor handles his own copy editing as part of the revision process). While manuscripts are out at copy editing, I produce publication agreements – by hand – for each contribution. This can take a few hours. When I get the copy edited manuscripts back, I return them with a publication agreement to authors and  for a short (<50 word) bio and the mailing address for their author copy of the Quarterly. With any luck, I get both of those documents, but in about 30% of the cases, I don’t. I have to ask (again and again) for a bio, negotiate challenges associated with signing a digital document, and beg for mailing addresses to send author’s copies.

Because we won’t run a piece without a contract and a bio, I can’t finalize the order of the issue. The entire issue gets sent to our publisher, University of Nebraska Press, with all the finalized author agreements. They do layout and then return the proofs to me to circulate back to my authors for final approval. I compile any edits on the proofs and return it to the publisher. Then the volume goes to print.

The process of publishing involves constantly reinforcing the roles of publisher and author through our separate roles and the different timelines in which our work proceeds. The biggest challenge for me, for example, is managing the rapid progress from final manuscripts to final proofs. The different times of engagement and expectations complicate and humanize the workflow. Authors have delays associated with travel, internet and email access, challenging editing issues, and the need to arrange the content in the issue in a way that makes sense. It goes without saying that a small number of contributions take the most time.

5. Sales and Subscriptions. I’m incredibly fortunately to have a bit of cushion for both The Digital Press and NDQ. It’s not enough to allow me to ignore sales and subscriptions, but it means that they aren’t a daily worry. That being said, I’m excited whenever The Digital Press makes a sale (or two) or ticks over a particular benchmark for the number of downloads. Right now, for example, we’re chasing 500 downloads for Eric Burin’s Protesting on Bended Knee, and we’re doing all we can to maintain a steady stream of sales. The goal there is one book per day. 

With NDQ, we simply have to have subscribers. The subscribers will fund production, and with any luck, will eventually generate revenue that will help the Quarterly expand and innovate. We’re coordinating some email blasts, a subscription drive (particularly to ensure that folks who have historically subscribed to the journal renew their subscriptions, and also looking to some other ways to generate revenue

Yesterday, I thought a bit about how the commercialization of digital creative content can become exploitative, but how it is also a strategy toward sustainability in a world with fewer resources for the humanities and more and more competition. Considering new models for publishing that combine new ways to work with authors, contributors, and publishers might be the way toward a more sustainable future.    

 

 

Unlocking the Commons: Tim Carmody, NDQ, Amazon, and the Digital Press

There is a ton of tech writing on the internet these days and some of it is really good. None is better, I think than Tim Carmody who wrote really great pieces for The Verge and Wired back in the day, and now partners with one of the original bloggers, Jason Kottke, to produce a regular newsletter called Noticing that blends content from Kottke.org and the rest of the web. He also has a Ph.D. in Comparative literature from Penn.

What’s more interesting to me lately is his interest in the economics of good writing on the web. As a writer, editor, and a publisher, I have long relaxed in the relatively luxury of academia which has given me the security to do creative work — whether through my professional writing, my blog, my editorial role at North Dakota Quarterly, or my work as publisher at The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota — without having to get too far into the weeds of funding and finance. At the same time, I do realize that if these projects are going to have a life beyond my own energies and attention, some kind of sustainable model will have to exist to support them.

Carmody has proposed and developed a model that he calls “unlocking the commons.” It is predicated on the idea that a project – like his new newsletter on Amazon – needs a certain amount of support to exist. Carmody is a freelance writer and, from what I gather, he earns his income from his writing. At the same time, Carmody is aware that locking content behind a paywall or the like makes it difficult to demonstrate the value of the content and difficult for supporters and authors to share their work. In fact, it actually reduces the impact of any content produced by making it less visible and less likely to influence a larger community. In this way, Carmody is following arguments long held by the open access community who see the value of creative work not in its narrow and immediate monetary value realized through subscribers, but in its expansive potential to inspire and influence a wide range of audiences. By unlocking the commons, subscriber support allows Carmody to develop his ideas, write, and produce his work, and once it is supported, the work is available freely to anyone who wants to read it. He and Jason Kottke modeled this approach with Kottke.org’s membership program, which apparently worked.

For his new newsletter on Amazon, the threshold for unlocking the commons and making supporting Carmody to produce one newsletter per week was 200 subscribers at $5 per month. If he manages 400 subscribers at $5 per month, he’ll write two articles per week. You can subscribe and support the newsletter here.

This project is interesting to me for two reasons.

First, NDQ has a money problem. Right now, it’s not existential, but it is limiting. We have a great publishing partner in the University of Nebraska Press, and moving forward, they will handle subscriptions and most production for the Quarterly. The goal is that as we rebuild our subscriber base, we can break even for UNP and, then, with a little help from our community, generate some revenue. In the meantime, we rely on three sources of revenue: a small endowment that provides us with enough to copy edit the journal, a funding “backstop” provided by donors and income generated by The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, and surplus energy provided by our editors and editorial board. This is enough to keep our head above water and to survive the occasional emergency, but isn’t really enough to innovate in a sustainable way. 

Recently, several editorial board members suggested that we install a reading fee for submissions. Other members of the editorial board pushed back arguing that the submitters and contributors MAKE the journal and they shouldn’t be charged for that privilege. While I’m not entirely convinced by this argument, I share its broad sentiment that submissions should remain free as a way to encourage the widest possible range of potential contributors. Moreover, ideologically, there’s something democratic about allowing anyone to contribute and, practically, I think even a modest reading fee might discourage contributions from marginal writers especially in the global south.

What if instead of a reading fee, we included a link to a Patreon or Memberful account or created a formal NDQ newsletter using Substack subscription. To be clear, these wouldn’t be subscriptions in a formal sense — that is money provided in exchange for a product — but they’d unlock the commons and make more of the same creative content that typifies NDQ. More than that, the synergy between a funded newsletter and the regular publication of NDQ will be complementary. After all, the print version of NDQ is what makes us NDQ.

The second interest that I have in Carmody’s new project is that we built The Digital Press, in part, on Amazon’s print-on-demand infrastructure. Whether we like it or not, the world still loves paper books, and the ability to distribute our paper books from the nearly global Amazon marketplace is a massive advantage to a small press like ours.

At the same time, we realize that using Amazon is problematic. First, it limits our reach to small book sellers in the region who have not really warmed to Amazon’s direct sales to retailers. Second, Amazon’s labor practices and corporate culture are in many ways antithetical to the values that we have at The Digital Press. Thirdly, our relationship with Amazon’s production system, platform, and marketplace is completely outside of our control. Of course, as our catalogue expands, we will likely have other opportunities to partner with distributors, but at present, we’re stuck with Amazon whether we like it or not.

Carmody’s regular columns exploring Amazon as a company will offer us insights into both the present and future of the current distribution model for The Digital Press. 

Public Domain Day at North Dakota Quarterly

On January 1st, the public domain saw the first large-scale infusion of works since 1998. Any work published before 1924, now is in the U.S. public domain. This is an almost unprecedented catalogue of books, journals, films, and music has entered the public realm. This means that these works have been freed from almost all restrictions on how we use, distribute, contort, convolute, remix, and enjoy these works. Duke Law School offers helpful explanation of what this means. The HathiTrust has collected an overwhelming catalogue of digitized material that entered the public domain this year, and you can access the full texts here.

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This has an impact on us here at North Dakota Quarterly. While we have no reason to believe that we ever renewed copyright on any of our early works, we also have almost no idea what the agreements were between the Quarterly Journal of the University of North Dakota (as it was then known) and our authors. In effect, these issues were orphans and would require a time consuming and expensive search for their status for someone to be sure that they were free of copyright entanglements.

In 2017, we took a little risk and released the digital versions of these works on the HathiTrust under a Creative Commons By-Attribution, No Derivative license, figuring that we, at least, have the right to distribute the entire volume. Unfortunately, the no derivative aspect of the license made it difficult for anyone to repackage, rearrange, or remix this volume. As this work has now entered the public domain, they are now free of those constraints!

Lest one think that this is just some dusty back catalogue of a little magazine, for folks interested in the history of North Dakota and of the University of North Dakota, volume 13 (1923) of NDQ is a relatively untapped resource. Issue 13.4 is dedicated entirely to the history of UND, with articles written by various faculty luminaries of the “early days” including John Gillette, Vernon Squires, Earle Babcock, and the well-known financier and class of ‘03, John Hancock. Issue 13.3 focuses on the history of the state of North Dakota with articles dedicated to the pioneer physician, the North Dakota bar, politics, banking, religion, and, of course, farming. Issues 1 and 2 were more general issues with articles by faculty and local scholars, and with ample overlap with the themes of the last two issue of the year. 

In short, this volume is among the most important volumes of NDQ’s early history or “first series,” and while it bares only scant resemblance to the journal of the 21st century, it speaks to the fundamental role that the Quarterly played is sketching out the “first draft” (to use a colleagues helpful expression) of the history of the state and the University. In this way, NDQ reflected the interests of its primary audience, people in the small, but growing body of intellectuals, academics, and professionals in North Dakota who sought to create institutions to support their priorities in the world.

Today, I like to think that NDQ continues in that tradition, albeit with a wider audience, and, in terms of topics and genres, a more expansive view on how to shape our world. I’m just now starting to think about what to do with the newly released volume of NDQ, but the great thing about the public domain, is that it’s not up to just us here at NDQ!  Anyone can go and do something neat with it, and let us know what they did!

Getting the Brand Back Together

I really dislike the concept of branding. In particular, I dislike the idea that brands have value and that there is a responsibility to the value inherent in a brand particularly in the humanities. Over the past few years, I’ve been confronted by a number of individuals who view the brand as major part of their responsibility toward public humanities institutions. To my mind, the investment in the brand – whether financial, intellectual, strategic, or emotional – has produced a kind of conservatism.  While I’d never suggest that these individuals valued the brand above content, there is a tendency to use the concept of the brand and its definitions as a way to create barriers to collaboration or even prioritize risk taking because, in the end, social and historical capital that has accumulated around the brand matters.  

At the same time, as I take on the role of editor of North Dakota Quarterly and sit in an office surrounded by 85 years of the journal and am incredibly aware of the history and legacy of the publication. As we move from being self published to being published by University of Nebraska Press, we have a chance to refresh our cover and interior design. I intentionally asked that we try to evoke some of the design elements during the Quarterly’s heyday under Bob Lewis in the late-1990s and early-21st century. (This is a nice example of it). Despite liking some of our more adventurous approaches to layout – including columns and a volume designed “Tête-bêche” – I got into my head that a more consistent approach might make the journal easier to understand and consume… in other words, ugh, branding.

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I also really liked the cover of our recent issue (84.1/2) dedicated to Transnationalism with it’s full width image and was pleased that UNP looked at that cover as a possible template for future NDQs. We need to find a cover image that has the same appeal as Marc-Antoine Frébutte’s “Waiting for the Train,” but I think that’s possible. UNP also played a bit with the NDQ logo while keeping its iconic Davida font. Here’s one example of what they’ve shared:

NDQ Cover Sample

Before I knew it, I was thinking about BRANDING and what was important to preserve in NDQ’s identity so that our readers and contributors recognize that despite the changes, we are going to maintain as much of the traditional NDQ identity as possible. I still don’t like branding or the idea of investing in the brand, but I suppose in this case it has a function of reassuring our audience that the core values of the Quarterly will remain intact. 

 

 

 

I still hate branding, though.

Three Things Thursday: Epoiesen, The Bakken, and NDQ Supplements

It’s the end of the semester and that means a time to look back, but also to look ahead to the break and beyond to various little projects on my slate for the next couple months (and beyond!).

While I have a good many odds and ends of my own to wrap up in the near future – including a peer review, an article draft, and the first words of a new book – I’m also looking forward to doing some work with projects from The Digital Press. 

Here’s what’s going on in that department. 

1. Epoiesen 2. Last year, I had the privilege of publishing a paper version of the first volume of Shawn Graham (and co.)’s journal Epoiesen. I thought of it as the Epoiesen annual and it is a total gem of a volume. (Download it here or buy it for $10 here). Over the next month or so, we’ll complete layout of Epoiesen 2 which will include this brilliant comic, Sympathy for the Devil, by H. Laurel Rowe.  It’ll also push us to continue to explore the relationship between print media and digital media in how we think about academic and artistic content and to consider the work of mediation to be part of the creative engagement with the content as well as the field of publishing archaeology and art in a digital/analogue hybrid world. We already have a great piece of art for the cover of the volume thanks to Katherine Cook

2. Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958–2018. Kyle Conway and an impressive gaggle of scholars are working in this project right now. It is a republication of the 1958 Williston Report, a relatively obscure, but nevertheless significant report on the impact of the first Bakken oil boom on communities, the economy, and infrastructure across western North Dakota. The book itself will interleave chapters from the Williston Report and updated chapter from a range of authors on related topics recontextualized in light of the 21st century boom.

3. North Dakota Quarterly Supplement 2. I’ve started to think a bit more seriously about the North Dakota Quarterly supplement series. 2018 saw the publication of a small poetry collection call Snichimal Vayuchil as the first NDQ supplement. For 2019, we’ll have another small volume of translated Maya poetry thanks to Paul Worley connections in the region and tireless energies. This should appear in early 2019 as NDQ Supplement 2. 

This past week, I received an email from an author inquiring whether I might be interested in publishing a collection of short stores. This got me thinking about whether I should formalize the NDQ Supplement series as annual volumes that either expand or focuses in some way what the Quarterly already does. I’m sketching a plan out in my head that could include collections of stories, essays, poems, or even complete novels or non-fiction works that are available in a range of different (and varying) formats from open access to more limited, print-on-demand formats. 

Hopefully, I’ll be able to share more on all these projects over the next few weeks as I get some momentum. I can’t promise that any of them will be available for the holiday season, but there’s always a chance a few of those industrious elves can help me get more done than I expect!

Almost Done with North Dakota Quarterly Volume 85

One of the great pleasures of this fall semester has been serving as editor of North Dakota Quarterly. The first volume that will appear under my supervisions will be volume 85. It’ll also be the first volume produced in collaboration with University of Nebraska Press and featuring a new poetry editor, Paul Worley, a new art editor, Ryan Stander, and a new non-fiction editor Sheila Liming. Moreover, there has been a bit of hiatus in publishing NDQ (although to be fair, it’ll be less than 18 months) and for a time, we suspended subscriptions.

That all being said, SUBSCRIBE NOW!

Err… cough…

It seems appropriate that I write an editor’s note introducing the new volume. In fact, I was looking forward to doing this until… I discovered that it was really hard to do. My rhetorically elaborate and awesomely clever editor’s note almost instantly devolved when I tried to write it. 

In its place is this short note, which I actually think works, even if I wanted to say more.

Editors Note

For almost a century, North Dakota Quarterly has stood as a monument on the North Plains. Started at the turn of the century and anticipating the Little Magazine movement, the Quarterly has remained committed to publishing the best fiction, poetry, and essays submitted by its diverse contributors. At the same time, the tastes, interests, and opinions of it editors have shaped the journal. Bob Lewis produced regular volumes dedicated to Ernest Hemingway. Sharon Carson produced a volume that reflected her interest in transnationalism. Robert Wilkins term as editor saw regular contributions on the history of the state and region.

The first volume of North Dakota Quarterly under my editorship seeks to continue in this tradition while also following the lead of my extraordinary fiction editor, Gilad Elbom, poetry editor, Paul Worley, art editor, Ryan Stander, non fiction editor, Sheila Liming, and the editorial board. Past editors Sharon Carson and Kate Sweney, university attorney, Jason Jenkins, and copy-editor Andrea Herbst also offered steady hands to guide my work as editor and helped the Quarterly navigate some exciting challenges —  from finding new storage for 20,000 back issues, to a new office, a new publisher, and new funding structure.

The group of editors and our determined and patient contributors have brought together fiction and poetry for a single volume in the calendar year 2018. At my suggestion and with the help of the editorial board, we also collected also brought together a special section of art, poetry, and essays on the humanities in the age of austerity. Over the past three years, the Quarterly directly encountered the impact of fiscal austerity on higher education and humanities funding in North Dakota, and it seemed fitting for these challenges to manifest in the page of the journal itself.

Volume 85 also marks another major change for the Quarterly. Starting with this volume, we will be published by University of Nebraska Press and this partnership will change the working of the journal in exciting ways. Already, we have made it possible to subscribe and submit to North Dakota Quarterly online. We have redoubled our efforts to produce weekly content on our website. We also look forward to new opportunities to increase the visibility and reach of NDQ among creative writers, discerning readers, and our longstanding national audience.

We hope that you enjoy volume 85 (2018) of the Quarterly and look forward to continuing to share exceptional content with you.