A Lit Mag Lives On!

A few months ago, I shared news on this blog that [PANK] was shutting down, after its editors, M. Bartley Seigel and Roxane Gay, announced the news about the cutting-edge mag via social media. The announcement sent ripples through the literary world. New York Times Magazine called PANK “a raft of experimental fiction and poetry.” Travis Kurowski, editor of Story Magazine and columnist for Poets & Writers, said, “Like McSweeney’s was nearly 20 years ago (and The Paris Review 40 years before that), PANK has been one of those lit mags that seemed to represent the zeitgeist of a generation—a literary turn towards diversity, queerness, raw authenticity.”

These quotes come from the introduction to an interview Electric Lit just published with outgoing editor M. Bartley Seigel, and the interview contains some huge news about the fate of the magazine. It’s going to live on! It has been purchased by John Gosslee of Fjords Review.

The interview features a lot of other interesting tidbits. For instance, Seigel states that he and Roxane Gay decided to step away from the magazine because they are in their mid-40s now and have too many projects happening.

Here is what he said about his time editing [PANK] and the state of American literature:

Overall, I ended my tenure at PANK in a very, positive place. American literature is robust, vibrant, and very much kicking and screaming. Reading and editing and publishing PANK only drove home for me that the foundational world of American letters, underpinning the big publishing houses, the major awards, the world of literary magazine and small and independent presses, is wide and deep and teeming with the most amazing publishers, editors, writers, writing, and readers. If I have a critique of American letters, it’s that the average American doesn’t read broadly enough, not enough work in translation, that we’re too isolated, too narrow in our reading habits, still too locked into boxes like the one built out of white male heteronormativity.

I encourage anyone to read the full interview. It provides a lot of insight into the contemporary literary landscape and the future of one of America’s most important lit mags.

10 Books Every American Should Read?

The Huffington Post has  a short, interesting article/list dubbed “10 Books Every American Should Read,” which includes The Federalist Papers, Common Sense, The Grapes of Wrath, Invisible Man, and other works. Of the list, there are only two books I haven’t read- Gone with the Wind and Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee. You can see the full list here. I agree with much of it, but I wondered why The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, and a few other novels didn’t make the cut. I suppose it’s hard to pick just 10, and maybe the list should have been expanded to 20, or even 50. No matter what kind of list is composed, it’s likely people would disagree with it.

If you made a list of the top 10 books every American should read, what would be on it? Does poetry have a place on the list? What about Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, or Frost’s early books that address New England farm life? I can also see a place for Ginsberg’s “Howl,” Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” and much of Langston Hughes’ work that did such a fine job capturing racial tension in America and also the speech and language of inner-city life. Maybe poetry should have its own list.