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Volume One, Issue Two

This Little Poem Went to Market ... by Pamelyn Casto

Volume One, Issue One

The Fine Art of Finding
an On Line Workshop
by Pamelyn Casto


Pam's comprehensive list of
Writer's Resources.

How to Start Your Own Zine
___(or How I Sacrificed My Social Life
___ for You Ungrateful Bastards)

   by Jamie Wasserman

Your mother thinks you're a genius. Your father thinks poetry is "cute". He's more than happy to tape a poem on his office door (as long as it's about lions eating other lions) but when it comes to his kid writing it, well then, best not to tell the neighbors (unless they know of a good therapist.) You've got an English degree, or you would have gotten an English degree but a tragic love affair got in the way of school. This love affair could have been with

a) a woman
b) a man
c) a woman and a man or
d) a substance whose name you cannot pronounce.

You've won three competitions sponsored by the National Library of Poetry, watched Dead Poet's Society 12 times, and mailed Rod McKuen taunting letters reminding him that once again he has been denied that elusive Pullitzer. You're a Poet (that's a capital 'P') and it's time to unleash your talent on an unsuspecting world.

The natural first step of getting exposure for your poetry is to send your work out to glossy magazines whose names end in 'Review' or begin with 'Journal of'. Wait four months for the acceptance letters and book offers to pour in. Move out. Tell your parents you're on your way (note: take only a six month lease.) Spend your time writing a manuscript that will change poetry as we know it. Use commas in odd places-they're highly underrated. Openly criticize e.e. cummings. Sign your name in all caps. When the rejection letters come in, and they will come in, remind yourself The Great Gatsby was rejected at three publishing houses before it was accepted,* that no one would even look at Lolita. Squander the rest of your money on Mad Dog 20/20 (grape preferably.) This kind of thing builds character. It's the type of suffering that epics are made of. Move back home.

You'll have three months to sleep in before your parents insist you look for a job. Spend your time fantasizing about writing rejection letters. In your head, they all begin 'Dear pussbagSŠ' and end with 'toilet paper.' Cut out the heads of models from fashion magazines and glue them onto the body of the fattest guy in your high school yearbook. Watch every nature special you can. Realize your place on top of the food-chain. Eat nothing but red meat. This is how all great editors are born.

Turn on your computer. Put your ear close to the screen. Closer. Can you hear the ocean? No? Good. There's still hope. Log on to the internet. Did you know that 75% of websites are pornographic* ? This fact will come in handy later. Begin your website.

[Note: due to space limitations, the editors of this zine have removed a lengthy segment related to servers, HTML, web design, and a rather extensive list of pornographic url's from Holland. As the author was undoubtedly under the influence of something when he wrote it, the editors did not think any of the article's value would be diminished by its removal.]

You'll need a snazzy name for your zine. Something that indicates

1) you've got a classy site
2) you're better than the other zines
3) there might be nude pictures on the site.

The Hootenanny Review could easily be confused for an exhibition of southern breasts. The New Yoiker Sucks will certainly gain a lot of sympathy readers. It¹s all in a name. I chose The Melic Review for mine because

1) of the all-important ŒReview¹ in the title, which lets people know right away they¹re dealing with class
2) no one knows what Melic means‹it could be sexual, it could be academic.

Take this to heart. Maybe it was Yogi Berra. The point still stands.

Now it's time to promote your site. Use the newsgroups first. They're a hotbed of writers, clamoring to get published. Make it clear that you will take no less than Dylan Thomas type-stuff, that if you can make it in your zine, you can make it anywhere, and that you don't pay a dime. This is important to establish early. Some good newsgroups to try include rec.arts.poems. misc.writing, or rec.arts.stories.sex.camels. Remember, writers turn up in the damndest of places.

So now you've got the word out and the submissions have poured in. Both of them. And they're both about ex-girlfriends or unicorns or ex-girlfriends riding unicorns or ex-unicorns riding girlfriends (depending on which newsgroups you posted to.) It's time to make friends (or pseudonyms.) Call up your ex-girlfriend, the one who loathed unicorns and wrote all that angry poetry about you. Ask to use some of it on your site. Get back together with her, but only for the inspiration and the free material. She'll dump you as soon as she realizes how much time you spend on the computer anyway. Put out your first issue.

The literary world will be abuzz with your creation. For the next issue, get 4 submissions. Reject all of them. This is the real satisfaction. Critique often on the poetry forums. Tell them how you would have written it. Make constant references to your zine. You're not out to make friends. Curse at people on the road. Lecture teenagers about running in the mall. Call your grandparents more. You're an editor and no one else will love you like they do.

By the fourth issue, you've made it. Writers who only go by their initials will send you stuff. People will ask you to write articles like this one. Try to appear magnanimous. Talk about the energy you had when you were young. Send out your stuff again. The mere sight of your name should inspire enough fear that you will never be rejected again.

Get a job. Neglect the zine. Marry the ex-girlfriend. Have kids. Write quiet poems about vegetables. This is how all great editors go. Publish a book. Sleep with it at night. Divorce the wife after she says 'It's the book or me.' Forget the kids' names. Uproot your vegetable garden and set-up a cow pen. It's red meat or nothing. Befriend other editors. Like wild dogs, they travel in packs. Remind yourself, you're an animal. toothy, heartless, out for blood. Howl at the moon, pee on the neighbor's fence. Let them know, this is your territory.

Get back on the internet and begin the process over again. Continue until you're given tenure at a major university or you suffer liver failure, go into cholesterol overload, or a teenager stabs you to death with his skull earring. Contrary to popular belief, even editors bleed.

*indicates a made-up fact, necessary to support my argument. Do not try this at home. I am a trained editor, a consummate professional, and a convicted felon.


Jamie Wasserman is Co-Founder of the Melic Review and Editor of Octavo

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