A group of seven writers and editors in the Twin Cities have announced plans to launch Revolver, a literary journal that will feature prose, poetry, visual art, photography, and “maybe some exceptional” scenes from plays. Revolver’s content will be updated online every two weeks, and a print edition published twice a year will feature the best submissions of the past six months. Revolver editors hope to make the print edition available for sale nationally, through bookstores, at book festivals, and at the annual AWP conference.
“We’re looking to publish work that hits the brain like a bullet,” explained Esther Porter, one of the seven founding editors, who was the publicist at Coffee House Press from 2005-2010. Ben Barnhart, another of Revolver’s founding editors, served until December as an editor at Milkweed Editions. Two of the other founding editors, Luke Finsaas and Alexander Helmke, once worked as interns at Coffee House. All seven founding editors belong to a writing group that’s been meeting once a month for the past two years.
“We’d go out and close down bars fighting over stories, literature of all kinds,” Porter recalled of Revolver’s origins, “We wanted to have something to show for it.” Finsaas added that Revolver’s mission is “interrogate the contemporary, to be a safe place to have a good, hard fight about what matters.”
Revolver will launch on September 8 with a party held at Minneapolis’ Uppercut Gym, which will feature, as part of the evening’s entertainment, a pair of female boxers and a pair of male boxers squaring off in separate bouts. The boxers include Courtney Algeo, the marketing coordinator at The Loft literary center in Minneapolis, and Sarah Moeding, an executive producer for the international “Literary Death Match” performance series, which features writers in a game show format.
The boxing theme of the evening might be gimmicky, but it’s no accident, Porter said. The entire premise behind Revolver is one of editors engaging in “literary death matches” with one another through a decentralized editorial process. “We don’t have to agree; that’s the whole point,” she said, explaining that any submission will be published even if only one of the seven editors champions it. All seven editors will read and vote on submissions.
Comparing Revolver to McSweeney’s, Finsaas describes McSweeney’s as having “a totalizing brand; all their pieces have to sound like that brand.” Revolver, on the other hand, Finsaas says, will be “rowdy,” because of the “chaos, both internally and for our reader” resulting from the decentralized editorial process. “People will end up reading pieces that they never would have before,” Finsaas said.
Work will be categorized by length, rather than by genre, and editors hope to introduce interactive elements into the Web site, such as a series called “Shots from Strangers,” in which editors and others will solicit “unexpected” stories from people they encounter at drinking establishments by asking them a series of 12 questions. Audio and video records from the interviews will be downloaded (with the interviewee’s consent) upon the website.
“We’re trying to distinguish ourselves from so many other journals,” Porter said. The editors are selling advertising on the site and will sell advertising space in the print magazine as well.
Revolver editors have received 50 submissions to date, and its site (www.around-around) currently features 10 submissions, including poems, essays, and short stories. The site has received 1,000 unique visitors and 5, 500 pageviews thus far.