Thursday, August 28, 2008

Reader Meet Author

Peter Cole/Keyhole Magazine

I once heard it said that there are more books published then there are readers. I just can't believe that statement can be true. As I sit here with stacks of books surrounding me, I know that every reader is reading multiple books and journals and magazine at the same time. Well, at least I am, and when I received Issue# 3 of Keyhole Magazine I was happy to take a look. I wanted to take a look because it had everything I look for in a journal. It was well designed with a great cover, it featured a diverse mix of literature (poetry, flash fiction, and longer fiction), and it had authors that I was familiar with. What a perfect package, and the great collection work. When dealing with a journal the cover and design is key. Unlike a novel, a literary journal can be sold or ignored based on its cover. Many times two journals could feature the same writer or have a similar mix of pieces, and the cover can really impact a reader's decision. Sarah Stanley has secured Keyhole's place on myself and I am sure she will do the same for you.

The main editor of Keyhole Magazine is Peter Cole, and he takes great pride in what his staff has produced. When I asked him what set his journal apart from the others I had no idea what he would say. Now after speaking with him and reading through his journal I am sure it is his staff and his own passion for the project that set Keyhole apart from other journals.

Recently, Peter was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): The response to the arrival of Keyhole to the literary scene this year has been very positive. Why did you feel the world needed another literary journal?
Peter Cole (PC): Yes, the literary community is very nice, and it's great to be a part of it.

Everything thrives on competition. Personally, I don't consider other journals to be competitors, but the same principle applies. If there's no reason to push the envelope then it's less likely to be pushed. It keeps everything moving forward. The more journals the better off the world will be. Journals can't publish every good story or poem out there--I'm certain that there is far more good writing than there are literary journals--more journals equals more to read. Most importantly, for variety. "Good" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. The world would be a boring place if we were stuck on one thing.

OA: What do you feel sets Keyhole apart from other journals out there?
PC: I was asked this question at the beginning of the year and didn't give a very good response. Half a year later and I still can't think of anything. We're working toward certain things that might set us apart, but they haven't happened yet. If I said anything, I know I'd just find a journal that does the same thing and then I'd feel sheepish.

OA: I love the covers that you have used for the first four issues. How important is cover design for a lit journal?
PC: We're very fortunate to have Sarah Stanley working on the cover designs. I received a proof for issue 4 earlier this week, and it looks even better in physical form. I'm excited to own it myself.

You know, we judge everything by appearance. And it's not a shallow thing to do. It's how brains are wired. Though the saying is true--a nice cover doesn't equate to a good read and a bad design doesn't necessarily mean a bad one. But if you feel that you've got something worth reading, you should do your authors a favor and wrap them in something worth looking at.

OA: You are working with Adam Robinson on a project called Nashville is Reads. What can you tell us about this project?
PC: Is Reads is really great, and I'm happy to be a part of it. It's Adam's project (Baltimore Is Reads), and he graciously let me be co-editor. We posted the poems in Nashville just a few days ago, and Adam posts the same poems in Baltimore. The point is to experience poetry in an outdoor setting. I've only read the poems at their locations late at night. You can hear trains, crosswalk beeping, alley rats, cars. The poem and the atmosphere really enhance each other. Selecting the location to go with the poem (or the other way around) is a very different aspect of editing, and it's really fun.

OA: With your work with Keyhole and other projects how much time do you spend on your personal writing?
PC: Well, I'm not really much of a writer. I've taken a few stabs at it, but I'm self-conscious. I read so many good things every's a little intimidating. I've got some things rolling around my head, but to answer your question I haven't had much time to devote to it. That's fine with me though. Keyhole is worth it, and even though it takes up pretty much every spare second that I have, it doesn't feel like work.

OA: What's next for Peter Cole and Keyhole?
PC: Hopefully a lot. We've got some big plans, but I don't like to say that things will happen until they happen. I'm superstitious. But here are a few things that I can say with more certainty. We just relaunched our website ('ll give us an opportunity to feature more short fiction, and anyone can sign up for an account and write articles. We're incorporating as a non-profit as we speak. Keyhole Press will release books. Our first book will be William Walsh's Questionstruck, which is a series of question-based texts derived from the books of Calvin Trillin. Very excited about that. There are a few other releases in the works as well. Next month we'll have a winner of our poetry chapbook contest, along with the chapbook, which should be fun. After that we're going to run a fiction chapbook contest, and we've got a great judge on board.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Every town has one (or at least they use to), where is the coolest indie bookstore in your area?
PC: Unfortunately, most of the books I'm interested in I have to buy online, or at Border's if I'm lucky. We do have a good used bookstore in town, Rhino Books. I really want to start my own bookstore. I wish I could put this as the answer to the previous question.

OA: What type of music do you enjoy, and who are a few of your favorites?
PC: I like everything, except country (old country is good though). If I'm driving I usually listen to the jazz station. I like old R&B. I tend to listen to a few albums repetitively. Lately it's been She &Him, My Morning Jacket, and The Kinks. A couple months ago it was RubySuns, Britney Spears (her latest album is really good), and Tom Waits. All-time favorites: Radiohead and Richard Buckner

For more information on Keyhole Magazine and Peter Cole please visit their website. A one year subscription is only $29.


Nobius said...

Another great interview Jason.

Seems this gentleman and I have a lot in common including that our feelings on personal writing and wanting to open an indie bookstore.

Thanks for all you do!!


this is great, i am glad to see peter and keyhole spotlighted, they are both wonderful

Jason Jordan said...

Indeed. Keyhole's great.

Michael Kimball said...

Nice interview, Jason. Nice interview, Peter. Keyhole is doing some great things.