Richmond’s new literary journal

The new journal helps talented writers get published and may makeout with them — only second base though.

makeout.jpg“Makeout Creek” has sprung in Richmond. The literary journal, which features fiction, nonfiction, art, photography, and reviews with a sincere yet amusing layout is now available through efforts by the seven editors, including Andrew Blossom and Brian Castleberry.

Blossom came up with the idea a year ago to start the journal. “I knew a lot of talented writers who faced obstacles getting published,” he said.

Although funded and produced independently with no university involvement, “Makeout Creek” has VCU thumbprints all over it. Blossom, currently teaching creative writing at VCU, graduated from the MFA program last year, and Castleberry will complete his MFA this spring. Two editors, Lauren Maas and Joshua Poteat, have VCU backgrounds (the rest of the staff represents University of Texas and University of Pittsburg). Other VCU-related contributers include Nicholas Reading, Josiah Bancroft, Cynthia Grier Lotze, as well as Tom De Haven and Clint McCown, both writers and professors at VCU. Blossom said that although he is proud of the school’s writing program and will “harass” his colleagues to contribute, the journal doesn’t accept funding from the school.

To compile the first issue, the editors sent out notice to people they knew to spread word that a new journal had begun accepting pieces. Blossom and Castleberry said that they were encouraged by the response. One person in particular, David Berman, was courted for his submission. Blossom sent a letter to the poet and frontman for the band Silver Jews to send a poem, hoping that their shared experience working at UVA’s WTJU radio station would encourage him. And it worked.

They took issues of “Makeout Creek” to the AWP Conference (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) in New York (“a trade show” for writers, Blossom said) and gave out and sold copies to help increase awareness for the journal, which they plan to publish semi-annually.

Castleberry said that they would like to showcase a variety of genres, including comic artists. “We’re hoping to be able to mine a bigger field of writers.”

The editors personally contacted everyone who submitted with a status. For pieces that weren’t quite ready for publication they offered minor suggestions and encouragement for resubmission. “We hope to build a better relationship with writers,” Castleberry said.

Currently Makeout Creek is sold through Chop Suey and Chop Suey Tuey, as well as in Cinders Gallery in Brooklyn, through contributing artist Sto. Future issues of “Makeout Creek” will have an online component. The projected due date for the summer issue is July with a submission deadline in May. Check, for updated details. Not only are Blossom and Castleberry helping to bring literature to the streets, they’re taking a few stories from the streets, and are currently editing a “Richmond Noir” short story collection for Akashic Books along with De Haven, which should be released in 2009.

“The Makeout Creek Debutante Ball” will be held at Chop Suey on March 2 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. with readings from Richmond artists who contributed to the first issue.

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Kelly Gerow

Kelly Gerow lives and writes in Richmond. She probably does other stuff in Richmond, too.

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