Archives for October 2013

Three Great Reasons To Still Print On Paper

Interview with Catamaran Literary Magazine editor Zack Rogow

Zack_Rogow_headshotWelcome to the People Who Make Books Happen Interview Series. Zack Rogow is the author, editor, or translator of twenty books or plays including his most recent collection of poetry My Mother and the Ceiling Dancers. He is currently Poetry Editor of Catamaran Literary Reader, a new quarterly literary and arts magazine based in Santa Cruz California that is print on paper only. We are going to talk to Zack about why there are still great reasons to print on paper.

Mary: Could you please describe Catamaran for us and give us a history of the founding of the magazine? Who had the original idea to publish Catamaran?

Zack: Catamaran is the brainchild of Catherine Segurson who also serves as editor-in chief. Catherine is doubly talented as both a writer and a visual artist, so she has a great set of talents to pick art for the magazine as well as provide an overall vision for the writing. For each issue, Catherine pulls together the parts to create a suite of articles and artwork connected by themes and by the season in which that particular issue of the magazine is published.

Mary: In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that my poem “Onça Pintanda/Painted Tiger” appears in the Fall 2013 issue of Catamaran. What else is in the Fall issue?

Catamaran Fall Issue 2013Zack:  Poems by fourteen poets including Wendell Berry and Billy Collins; fiction by seven writers including Mary Doria Russell; nonfiction by eight authors including Wendell Berry again along with Milton Obenzinger and Deb Liggett, and multiple pieces of art work by thirteen amazing artists like Ruo Li and Poppy De Garmo.

Mary: That’s quite an impressive roll call. One thing that struck me the most about the current issue is how beautiful it looks. The paper is heavy and textured; the colors are vivid; the font is beautiful.  In short, the magazine is beautifully designed. Obviously, given the proliferation of e-books and on-line publication, the decision to put out Catamaran as print on paper only was a carefully considered decision. Can you tell us your three favorite things about printing on paper?

Zack: My favorite things about publications that are actually printed are: One, print publications are real objects that exist in the world like a beautifully glazed pot or a ripe peach. They aren’t just a bunch of pixels. They have a substance and a presence that makes your home warmer. Two, I enjoy the physical sensation of turning pages, leafing through a publication and holding the printed page in my hands. I find it soothing. And three, there is a sense of permanence around a printed publication. It can’t be erased or lost as easily as a computer file. You can store it and be surprised to find it again years later. It doesn’t require a certain software or hardware to read it.

Mary: How commercially viable is a print on paper literary magazine these days?

Zack: Contrary to what you might imagine, the demand is actually increasing for high end, niche, specialty magazines. Print occupies 80% of the market, digital only 20%. Big commercial print magazines have declined because big advertising dollars have been redirected to the Internet, but this doesn’t really relate to the special literary magazine sector. As Catherine Segurson says: “Build it and they will come.”

Mary: Where can people buy copies of Catamaran?

Zack: They can subscribe by going to the  Catamaran website. The magazine is also widely distributed in North America by Disticor Magazine Distribution, Source, MSolutions, and Ingram so it can also be found in bookstores.

Mary: Will there be any readings to launch the Fall Issue of Catamaran?

Zack: Yes. Catamaran’s First Year Anniversary will be celebrated on Friday, November 1, at 6:00 pm at the Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Art.  There will also be a reading by some of the writers in the Fall Issue in Capitola on Friday November 8, 7:00 pm at Capitola Book Cafe. You can check out the Catamaran website for more information about upcoming events.

Mary: Before we go, tell us about your new chapbook Voices Carved From Obsidian.

Zack: It’s a booklet with four poems about favorite singers of mine: Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Curtis Mayfield, and Billie Holiday. Each crafted booklet had a hand silk-screened cover and is sewn in a figure-eight stitch to bind it, all done by the amazing publisher of Deconstructed Artichoke Press, Nicole Thompson. I chose those four poets because I adore their music, but I also wanted to write about their lives and what fascinating stories they lived. Acting as Poetry Editor of Catamaran has given me a chance to find out what’s happening in the larger literary community while still pursuing my own work.

Mary: What are you looking for as Poetry Editor?

Zack: I’m looking for work both by writers whose careers I’ve followed and admired over the years and new writers I’ve never heard of or writers people recommend to me. It’s surprising how much of the poetry we’ve published has come over the transom through the submissions interface on our website. Good writers have found the magazine and have responded to the themes in it.

Mary: Thanks, Zack. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.

 Zack Rogow’s poems have appeared in a variety of magazines from American Poetry Review to ZYZZYVA.  He is the editor of an anthology of U.S. poetry, The Face of Poetry, which was the culmination of his 9 years of presenting national poets at the Lunch Poems Reading Series at UC Berkeley.  He currently teaches at two graduate writing programs:  the low-residency MFA at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and the MFA at California College of the Arts.  He has an MA in English from City College, City University of New York, and a BA in English from Yale University.  Zack’s new chapbook Voices Carved from Obsidian will be available from Deconstructed Artichoke Press in Winter 2014. To obtain copies before that date, please contact Zack by email at

Dear Readers: Join this conversation about People Who Make Books Happen. You are warmly invited to ask Zack questions or leave a comment. See the other interviews in this series for information about How To Get An Agent, How To Design A Book Cover That Sells Books, and more. This is where the experts hang out.

The Year The Horses Came Inspires Us To Envision A Peaceful Culture

The Year The Horses CameReview of Mary Mackey’s Novel The Year The Horses Came

By Author & Anthropologist Tamis Renteria
Originally Published October 17, 2013

Towards the end of my anthropology training, I discovered an interesting truth: fiction was much better at transporting readers to a different time and place than even the most vivid anthropologist’s ethnography. That’s because fiction writers are storytellers, and story is at the heart of human understanding.

Mary Mackey’s Earthsong Trilogy is a perfect example of this. Mackey takes the archeologist Marija Gimbutas’s skeletal descriptions of matriarchal Neolithic societies, and fleshes them out into vivid stories about what life was like——in all its texture and richness——in this peaceful culture before it’s people came into contact with violent, patriarchal tribes.

I particularly love the first book, The Year the Horses Came. It has vivid descriptions of a clan-based society on the coast of Brittany that is organized around women, children, and the enjoyment of life (as opposed to men, conflict, and the celebration of war). In the first ten pages the reader is transported into a foreign and beautiful world of communal longhouses centered around a Goddess Stone where people fish, farm, and celebrate the arrival of adulthood with egalitarian, non-violent rituals which involve no shaming or bodily mutilation. We are treated to details: women steam shellfish in rock and seaweed lined pits; a “Young Men’s Society,” practices drumming and dancing in preparation for a young woman’s coming-of-age day; and Marrah, the young female protagonist, anticipates with excitement the moment when she will throw her childhood necklace of seashells back to Amonah, goddess of the ocean, as part of her transition into adulthood.

Details like these, woven throughout the narrative, are what the anthropologist Clifford Geertz calls “thick description,” and this is what every cultural anthropologist strives for in her professional descriptions of the cultural “Other.” In Mackey’s case as a historical fiction writer, she is not describing what she sees while doing fieldwork, as an anthropologist would. She’s creating a cultural “Other” out of her experience, scholarship, and imagination. And its effect is just as compelling and challenging to the western reader as any ethnographic description of tribal societies in Africa or the Amazon. Her descriptions, set in the context of a compelling story, invite us to understand a society different than our own, and in this way, see our own culture with fresh, and perhaps critical eyes.

And it may even inspire us to envision a different, more peaceful culture of our own.

For more book reviews by Author & Anthropologist Tamis Hoover Renteria you are invited to visit her website.

Mary Mackey Short Story Prize, $100 First Place

MaryMackey You are invited to enter the competition for the 2013 Mary Mackey Short Story Prize. Three years ago the National League of American PEN Women created the Mary Mackey Short Story Prize as part of the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition. This contest  is open to all writers, published and unpublished.  I judge the entries each year and am looking for well-crafted stories that are original and compelling. The winning stories must demonstrate a mastery of and love for the English language. They must move, not wallow. The characters need to be vivid, the dialogue convincing. Above all, something must happen. This need not be a grand event, but some change must take place: an event, a revelation, or perhaps an insight. Please do not submit your story until you have polished and revised it multiple times.

Guidelines for Mary Mackey Short Story Prize from the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition: Up to 5,000 words. One story per entry. The deadline is November 30th. First Prize is $100; Second Prize  $50; Third Prize $25. All prose works must be typed, double-spaced, page numbered, and paper-clipped. Please indicate word count on title page. Do not put your names on your manuscripts; instead, enclose one 3″ x 5″ card typed, affixed with a printed label or carefully hand-printed (if we can’t read your handwriting, there will be problems in our contacting you) with your name, address, phone, fax, email, and title(s) of work(s) and particular category/categories entered. Entries are sent to judges unidentified. Don’t use your real name if referring to yourself in your contest entry.

Please do not send your entries to Mary Mackey (or to Mary Mackey Short Story Prize). Mail all entries to:

The Webhallow House
1544 Sweetwood Drive
Broadmoor Village, CA 94015-2029

Please note: We do not accept electronic (e-mail), special delivery, certified, or registered entries

Category “Short Story” must be indicated on 3″ x 5″ card as well as on manuscript. You may enter as many categories in the Soul-Making Literary Competition as you wish and as many times as you wish but you may not enter the same work in more than one category, nor may you re-enter a work that has previously earned a Soul-Making Keats award.

Previously published works okay; however, those winning awards in prior Soul-Making categories may not be resubmitted. No mss will be returned; no substitutions or revisions of work will be accepted after initial submission.

Entries that do not adhere to the guidelines will be disqualified. Entry fees are nonrefundable.

Winners will be announced and posted on our the Soul-Making Keats website early the following year.

Please enclose $5 per entry payable to NLAPW.

International entrants please send Travelers Check drawn on a USA bank.

Again, please send entries to:

The Webhallow House
1544 Sweetwood Drive
Broadmoor Village, CA 94015-2029

Questions? E-mail

Besides the Mary Mackey Short Story Prize, the Keats Soul-Making Literary Competition awards yearly prizes in the following categories: Poetry, Sonnet, Prose Poem, Flash Fiction, Memoir Vignette, Humor, Novel Excerpt, Inter-Cultural Essay, Creative Non-Fiction, Religious Essay,  Young Adult Poetry, and Young Adult Prose. An award ceremony honoring the winners is held in San Francisco each spring.