Mark your calendars, friends. Sunday, June 8, Versal brings Amsterdam a brand new literary show.
VERSO / renders the literary journal in live form. Each curated edition will feature one editor and one writer, and a selection of artists and thinkers in various forms: interviews, essays, slideshows, film, sound, and more. I will be "editing" the inaugural VERSO /, which features special guest, American poet Peter Gizzi. Click here to read more about our first edition.
In this "time off" from the demanding publishing cycle of Versal, I've thought a lot about what a literary journal is, was, and could be. How it functions, in all actuality and honesty, among the din of today's egos, of today's tech, and ironically in the deluge of the rise of its own form.
Versal as you know and love it published 11 editions over 11 years in the 20x20cm offset bind. We became one of the cool kids of America's vibrant small press publishing community, yet I'm proud to say we built an inclusive name for ourselves – a name we held up in our daily practice as editors and publishers. We were among the first to be transparent about our rejection process, costs and business model, and we led – and in some cases, even upended – important discussions about translocality, ethical publishing, and the literary economy.
I am very proud of these things.
I am also baffled, as both an editor and a reader. I am baffled by the numbers and volumes of the, especially American, literary journal world – these magnitudes terrify me in their noise and celebritizing, and in their heavy proliferation of an already beleaguered economy. But I am equally baffled by my, perhaps more hands-across-America, we-are-the-world view that we are all better off with many voices and many attempts at this beautiful publishing form. So while I would argue for the masses, I am afraid the masses are drowning us. In Dutch, I would say I am in de war. A perfect homophonic for my baffled literary activism.
It is this state of baffled that started and continues Versal's publication sabbatical, because I need some quiet to think. To parse through the overgrowth in the literary world and cut back down to the interior. My interior, which is where Versal came from.
So I went back to where we began: Amsterdam. We helped build this literary community, and though we've spent the last few years focused outward, I wanted to bring my eyes – and Versal's eyes – back home. VERSO / is just one part of this. We are also busy building a comprehensive online literary guide to our home city, complete with a curated monthly calendar of literary-ish events. Because we've seen and heard just about everything there is to see and hear about the Amsterdam literary scene for over a decade, we figure we have some knowledge to share.
Stay tuned in the coming days and weeks to hear more about Versal's local activities. And don't forget to mark your calendar for our inaugural VERSO /. Click here for complete details.