Stone, Paper, Scissors

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Lucy Healy-Kelly takes a peek at a new arts and literary journal, and talks to fellow Corkonian Katie Raissian about what it’s all about.

How It’s New York:  A gathering of young Brooklyn-based women involved in the arts have just brought out the first edition of a new literary and art journal called Stonecutter.

How It’s Irish: Editor-in-chief Katie Raissian hails from Cork and this first issue includes work by Dublin-based poet Anne Fitzgerald. It also features a retelling of an old Irish myth, in Eliot Weinberger’s Islands in the Sea. The journal will continue to have an international focus, with more Irish writers slated for the next edition.

In a world, or at least a world wide web, in the thick of a blog explosion, it has never been easier to have your voice heard. Writers of all kinds can reach an audience across the globe with the click of a mouse, and minute by minute the internet is flooded with literary endeavours of all kinds. Sometimes it can seem like the days may be numbered of reading something made of paper, with pages that you turn with your own two hands.

This week sees the official launch of a new biannual literary journal that nudges its way into the world against this wave of ezines, electronic books and vanity publishing. It is made of good old fashioned paper. Its battery will not run down. You can put it in a bag, or on a shelf. Its resolution is excellent, and it’s even in 3D! A slim volume with offset printing, heavy stock, french flaps and a four colour insert, Issue One of Stonecutter: A Journal of Art & Literature is a pleasingly elegant 106 page journal, whose very existence seems to fly in the face of the dismal downturn of old-fashioned print media.


Katie Raissian, Stonecutter’s editor-in-chief, concedes that a lot of very high quality work has gained a wide audience thanks to the spread of electronic publishing. “I’m in favour of online and electronic publishing, as it’s a great, cost-effective way of bringing different media together. But it’s also important to bring something into print amidst the growth of eBooks, kindles, iPads and to do something that, although costly, is worth it.” The aesthetic of producing a physical print journal was always to the fore for the Stonecutter team and every element of the print process was painstakingly embraced. “It was typeset by Maayan Pearl, who also designed the logo. Maayan really guided us in choosing a font that was both appropriate to the text and reflective of the artistry of the pieces. We wanted to create something that people would look at as an investment, a beautiful addition to their bookshelves. We had some expert help; Erik Rieselbach advised us on layout, which editor Anna Della Subin took on, with enormous creative flair, as her main role.”


This is not a book to be judged solely by its cover though. Katie, who moved to Brooklyn in 2009 with her husband Chris Russell (the talent behind the journal’s beautiful hand-drawn contributor illustrations) has long been a lover of literature and print, and these two loves were part of what prompted the idea for putting Stonecutter together. “When I came here I interned at Ugly Duckling Presse in Brooklyn, and also worked for a time at New Directions. Through those two experiences I got a feel for what was going on in independent literary publishing both in New York and greater America,” says Katie. She discussed the idea of starting a journal with her good friend and poet Ava Lehrer, whom she met interning at Ugly Duckling, and their similar ideas about poetry, as well as a mutual passion for the project, saw the editorial process begin about a year ago, with Ava on board. Soon, Katie recruited a larger editorial team. 
“We wanted to aim for a text that would be aesthetically pleasing as much as containing high-quality, well curated content; a book that would have ‘something for everyone’ without a loss of quality control.”

Poetry was always just one element of the vision for Stonecutter. According to Katie, “I wanted to start something that was an all-encompassing venture; a journal that didn’t belong to a specific genre or style. I also wanted it to be a project run by women and therefore bring to the fore a new female editorial voice.” The volume contains some truly arresting poetry, prose, photographs and illustrations. At first glance it may seem an eclectic mix, but it was important to the team that not only could each inclusion be read or appreciated as an individual piece, but that there would be an intricate exchange between each of its parts.

The Stonecutter team approached writers and artists for contribution whose work they  admired, and received a unanimously positive response when they told them about the project. Open submissions were also solicited online. The result is a mix of both well-known and lesser-known names. Familiar and highly regarded writers include Robert Kelly, Eliot Weinberger, Jen Bervin, Alan Gilbert, Charlotte Mandell and Jeffrey Yang. Award-winning Australian poet, Sarah Holland-Batt, currently in New York on a Fulbright Scholarship, has three poems appearing in the issue. Andrew Gorin, Emily Skillings and Jocelyn Spaar represent just a smattering of the emerging talent published in the issue. All work by this mix of established writers and relative newcomers is previously unpublished.

Katie studied Anglo Irish literature at Trinity College Dublin, and confesses to being “mildly obsessed” with Irish poetry. She lists Michael Longley, Paul Durcan and Maeve McGuckian among her favourites, and also dramatists such as Marina Carr, Marie Jones and Martin MacDonagh. She sees the contemporary work emerging from Ireland as very exciting. “A lot of major Irish writing that crosses over to an international forum could be deemed more traditionalist, but there is amazing new formalist and experimental writing coming out of Ireland. Independent houses such as Dalkey Archive Press, and small presses like Coracle, based in Tipperary, are publishing some staggering talent, and also producing beautifully made books. Festivals at home, and events like the Poetry Fest here in New York at the Irish Arts Center, provide a wonderful platform for discovery of new and interesting work, as well as the reinforcement of a literary community.”

The national and international exchange that Stonecutter fosters is an angle which Katie has great belief in. “I’d be thrilled to have more translation in future issues, and more international work alongside American and New York-based writers and artists. Marrying those elements is exhilarating. Creating a bridge between what’s going on here in America and what’s happening in Ireland, Australia, France— all over the world—is essential. If that element of exchange dies, or fails to grow, then writing, art and community run the risk of tunneling inward. This, in turn, means missing or overlooking great realms of work. At Stonecutter, variety is what we’re seeking. It’s not about the limitations of geography, it’s more about a universal quality of work and the discovery of voices that are resonant, enduring.”

Of course, Stonecutter aims to represent not only the written word but also visual art, and it was important to chose images that worked well alongside their text-based companions. Zara Katz is a photographer and Stonecutter’s art editor, who was taken by the work of Newsha Tavakolian, an Iranian photojournalist by profession, whose rich work crosses boundaries into fine art photography. The issue includes a series of portraits from her new collection, Listen, that focus on professional female singers who are prohibited from public or solo performance in their native Iran. These striking images capture the women midsong, eyes closed, in dreamlike poses which fuse both the oppression and the escape which their situation presents.

Also included are three pieces by Travis Jackson, an emerging artist who works with found materials to create beautiful, intricate collages, which are often abstract and humorous. Orion Martin, a musician and painter studying at the Chicago Institue of Fine Art, has a video still and a painting featured in the issue. Katie and Zara plan to cultivate the journal’s visual art element, and are interested in increasing the representation of installation, abstract sculpture and performance art in the journal. How to do that in print form presents challenges, but both are eager to explore the potential of stills, profile or interview. As Katie says, “It’s incredibly important in publishing to render the pieces as true to the artist’s intention as possible.” She sees this as being of paramount importance not only to printing visual art, but also as being particularly true in the rendering of poetry. “You consider the layout of a poem and you can’t just unthinkingly cut off a line to fit your own page dimensions. The minute details are so important to the reading of poetry. If line breaks or stanza breaks are changed or lost, so too is the intention and meaning of the piece. It’s another very compelling reason to chose print; many printers have extremely artistic approaches to their craft and are very passionate about render work as true to how it was envisaged. It’s an integral part of the small press industry.”

While the first issue is now complete, it’s just the beginning of the road for Stonecutter. Getting the word out and finding ways to distribute the journal continue to present both opportunities and challenges for its editors. Work has already begun on Issue Two, due in November. So what motivates the team to keep going? For Katie the motivation is “that everyone involved with Stonecutter thinks it’s worthwhile. That’s reason enough to keep going. That we still find a lot to love in the literature and art that’s happening immediately around us and in the far corners of the world.” Katie’s enthusiasm is infectious. “I hope Stonecutter continues to be an enjoyable and creative forum. Love it or hate it I want people to respond to it and to be excited and moved by what we do…even if it’s just our choice of paper!”

Stonecutter Issue One is priced at $12 and is available through the website www.stonecutterjournal.com. It can ship to anywhere in the world (post and packaging costs are extra.) Annual subscription is also available. Stonecutter will also be available at select bookstores in New York.

The Issue One launch is open to all and is being held at 61 Local in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, on Wednesday the 29th of June, from 7pm-11pm. 
Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2011 New York Irish Arts

Comments

  1. katherine says:

    Can’t wait til my subscription arrives! Kudos to a great team for this launch.

Stone, Paper, Scissors

0 0 0 0 0
Republish
Reprint
Lucy Healy-Kelly takes a peek at a new arts and literary journal, and talks to fellow Corkonian Katie Raissian about what it’s all about.

How It’s New York:  A gathering of young Brooklyn-based women involved in the arts have just brought out the first edition of a new literary and art journal called Stonecutter.

How It’s Irish: Editor-in-chief Katie Raissian hails from Cork and this first issue includes work by Dublin-based poet Anne Fitzgerald. It also features a retelling of an old Irish myth, in Eliot Weinberger’s Islands in the Sea. The journal will continue to have an international focus, with more Irish writers slated for the next edition.

In a world, or at least a world wide web, in the thick of a blog explosion, it has never been easier to have your voice heard. Writers of all kinds can reach an audience across the globe with the click of a mouse, and minute by minute the internet is flooded with literary endeavours of all kinds. Sometimes it can seem like the days may be numbered of reading something made of paper, with pages that you turn with your own two hands.

This week sees the official launch of a new biannual literary journal that nudges its way into the world against this wave of ezines, electronic books and vanity publishing. It is made of good old fashioned paper. Its battery will not run down. You can put it in a bag, or on a shelf. Its resolution is excellent, and it’s even in 3D! A slim volume with offset printing, heavy stock, french flaps and a four colour insert, Issue One of Stonecutter: A Journal of Art & Literature is a pleasingly elegant 106 page journal, whose very existence seems to fly in the face of the dismal downturn of old-fashioned print media.


Katie Raissian, Stonecutter’s editor-in-chief, concedes that a lot of very high quality work has gained a wide audience thanks to the spread of electronic publishing. “I’m in favour of online and electronic publishing, as it’s a great, cost-effective way of bringing different media together. But it’s also important to bring something into print amidst the growth of eBooks, kindles, iPads and to do something that, although costly, is worth it.” The aesthetic of producing a physical print journal was always to the fore for the Stonecutter team and every element of the print process was painstakingly embraced. “It was typeset by Maayan Pearl, who also designed the logo. Maayan really guided us in choosing a font that was both appropriate to the text and reflective of the artistry of the pieces. We wanted to create something that people would look at as an investment, a beautiful addition to their bookshelves. We had some expert help; Erik Rieselbach advised us on layout, which editor Anna Della Subin took on, with enormous creative flair, as her main role.”


This is not a book to be judged solely by its cover though. Katie, who moved to Brooklyn in 2009 with her husband Chris Russell (the talent behind the journal’s beautiful hand-drawn contributor illustrations) has long been a lover of literature and print, and these two loves were part of what prompted the idea for putting Stonecutter together. “When I came here I interned at Ugly Duckling Presse in Brooklyn, and also worked for a time at New Directions. Through those two experiences I got a feel for what was going on in independent literary publishing both in New York and greater America,” says Katie. She discussed the idea of starting a journal with her good friend and poet Ava Lehrer, whom she met interning at Ugly Duckling, and their similar ideas about poetry, as well as a mutual passion for the project, saw the editorial process begin about a year ago, with Ava on board. Soon, Katie recruited a larger editorial team. 
“We wanted to aim for a text that would be aesthetically pleasing as much as containing high-quality, well curated content; a book that would have ‘something for everyone’ without a loss of quality control.”

Poetry was always just one element of the vision for Stonecutter. According to Katie, “I wanted to start something that was an all-encompassing venture; a journal that didn’t belong to a specific genre or style. I also wanted it to be a project run by women and therefore bring to the fore a new female editorial voice.” The volume contains some truly arresting poetry, prose, photographs and illustrations. At first glance it may seem an eclectic mix, but it was important to the team that not only could each inclusion be read or appreciated as an individual piece, but that there would be an intricate exchange between each of its parts.

The Stonecutter team approached writers and artists for contribution whose work they  admired, and received a unanimously positive response when they told them about the project. Open submissions were also solicited online. The result is a mix of both well-known and lesser-known names. Familiar and highly regarded writers include Robert Kelly, Eliot Weinberger, Jen Bervin, Alan Gilbert, Charlotte Mandell and Jeffrey Yang. Award-winning Australian poet, Sarah Holland-Batt, currently in New York on a Fulbright Scholarship, has three poems appearing in the issue. Andrew Gorin, Emily Skillings and Jocelyn Spaar represent just a smattering of the emerging talent published in the issue. All work by this mix of established writers and relative newcomers is previously unpublished.

Katie studied Anglo Irish literature at Trinity College Dublin, and confesses to being “mildly obsessed” with Irish poetry. She lists Michael Longley, Paul Durcan and Maeve McGuckian among her favourites, and also dramatists such as Marina Carr, Marie Jones and Martin MacDonagh. She sees the contemporary work emerging from Ireland as very exciting. “A lot of major Irish writing that crosses over to an international forum could be deemed more traditionalist, but there is amazing new formalist and experimental writing coming out of Ireland. Independent houses such as Dalkey Archive Press, and small presses like Coracle, based in Tipperary, are publishing some staggering talent, and also producing beautifully made books. Festivals at home, and events like the Poetry Fest here in New York at the Irish Arts Center, provide a wonderful platform for discovery of new and interesting work, as well as the reinforcement of a literary community.”

The national and international exchange that Stonecutter fosters is an angle which Katie has great belief in. “I’d be thrilled to have more translation in future issues, and more international work alongside American and New York-based writers and artists. Marrying those elements is exhilarating. Creating a bridge between what’s going on here in America and what’s happening in Ireland, Australia, France— all over the world—is essential. If that element of exchange dies, or fails to grow, then writing, art and community run the risk of tunneling inward. This, in turn, means missing or overlooking great realms of work. At Stonecutter, variety is what we’re seeking. It’s not about the limitations of geography, it’s more about a universal quality of work and the discovery of voices that are resonant, enduring.”

Of course, Stonecutter aims to represent not only the written word but also visual art, and it was important to chose images that worked well alongside their text-based companions. Zara Katz is a photographer and Stonecutter’s art editor, who was taken by the work of Newsha Tavakolian, an Iranian photojournalist by profession, whose rich work crosses boundaries into fine art photography. The issue includes a series of portraits from her new collection, Listen, that focus on professional female singers who are prohibited from public or solo performance in their native Iran. These striking images capture the women midsong, eyes closed, in dreamlike poses which fuse both the oppression and the escape which their situation presents.

Also included are three pieces by Travis Jackson, an emerging artist who works with found materials to create beautiful, intricate collages, which are often abstract and humorous. Orion Martin, a musician and painter studying at the Chicago Institue of Fine Art, has a video still and a painting featured in the issue. Katie and Zara plan to cultivate the journal’s visual art element, and are interested in increasing the representation of installation, abstract sculpture and performance art in the journal. How to do that in print form presents challenges, but both are eager to explore the potential of stills, profile or interview. As Katie says, “It’s incredibly important in publishing to render the pieces as true to the artist’s intention as possible.” She sees this as being of paramount importance not only to printing visual art, but also as being particularly true in the rendering of poetry. “You consider the layout of a poem and you can’t just unthinkingly cut off a line to fit your own page dimensions. The minute details are so important to the reading of poetry. If line breaks or stanza breaks are changed or lost, so too is the intention and meaning of the piece. It’s another very compelling reason to chose print; many printers have extremely artistic approaches to their craft and are very passionate about render work as true to how it was envisaged. It’s an integral part of the small press industry.”

While the first issue is now complete, it’s just the beginning of the road for Stonecutter. Getting the word out and finding ways to distribute the journal continue to present both opportunities and challenges for its editors. Work has already begun on Issue Two, due in November. So what motivates the team to keep going? For Katie the motivation is “that everyone involved with Stonecutter thinks it’s worthwhile. That’s reason enough to keep going. That we still find a lot to love in the literature and art that’s happening immediately around us and in the far corners of the world.” Katie’s enthusiasm is infectious. “I hope Stonecutter continues to be an enjoyable and creative forum. Love it or hate it I want people to respond to it and to be excited and moved by what we do…even if it’s just our choice of paper!”

Stonecutter Issue One is priced at $12 and is available through the website www.stonecutterjournal.com. It can ship to anywhere in the world (post and packaging costs are extra.) Annual subscription is also available. Stonecutter will also be available at select bookstores in New York.

The Issue One launch is open to all and is being held at 61 Local in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, on Wednesday the 29th of June, from 7pm-11pm. 
Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2011 New York Irish Arts

Comments

  1. katherine says:

    Can’t wait til my subscription arrives! Kudos to a great team for this launch.