A Letter from the Editor
March 21st 2012
Welcome to Issue Five.
I am proud to announce that StepAway Magazine is one year old today.
Twelve months ago, we made our first tentative step into online publishing. We were excited by the concept of our magazine, and yet, uncertain as to how many others would share our vision. Were we alone in believing that by breathing life into the dusty corpse of the nineteenth century literary flâneur we could inspire a new generation of writers to wander the streets and alleyways of their chosen cities, and seek out inspiration from each and every footstep?
Following the launch of our inaugural issue, the response from readers and writers alike was truly overwhelming. In our September 2011 issue, I reported that within three months we had reached an all time high of 115,000 hits. By December, we were looking at almost 200,000 hits.
In terms of submissions, we now receive a minimum of between 40 and 50 per month. This in turn allows us to publish only the very highest standard of work, by selecting 10-12 pieces from a stack of around 200 submissions.
Many online literary magazines are shy when it comes to discussing statistics. However, I feel that these figures are an indication of how healthy our industry is as a whole. Writers are eager to see their work published, even without monetary reward. Of equal importance, there is a sizable readership that is hungry to return to websites such as StepAway on a regular basis to read their work.
At this point, I feel that I owe our writers and readers a vote of gratitude for making StepAway Magazine a true success. After all, running a literary magazine is never really about statistics. In the past year we have showcased the work of established authors and poets, those currently making their mark on the industry, along with previously unpublished writers. Each offered a unique and important vision of the cityplace. I feel that it is an honour to correspond with such talented writers on a daily basis, read their poetry and prose, and provide them with an international platform for their work.
I am also pleased to report that our Northern Wanderer supplement, which looked at walking in the north east of England, was also well received. Following its publication, we were asked to participate in the NCLA Festival of Belonging, a week long literary festival which will take place in Newcastle and Gateshead featuring writers such as Hari Kunzru, Tahmima Anam and Sapphire. StepAway Magazine is currently collaborating with Trashed Organ to organize a poetry reading given by our Northern Wanderer contributors. The reading will take place on Tuesday 1st May, 8pm, at the Bridge Hotel, Newcastle upon Tyne and will feature Ira Lightman, Bob Beagrie, Keith Parker, Ian Davidson and Lizzie Whyman. We hope to see you there.
Issue Five is another rip roaring issue, fronted by a stunning shot from the German photographer, Oliver Fluck. Mr. Fluck wandered the streets of Manhattan in hope of capturing an alternate view of a New York landmark. The result was this ‘gutter to stars’ landscape of the Chrysler Building at night. Many thanks to Mr. Fluck for accepting our offer to feature his work, and I urge our readers to explore his portfolio further.
Issue Five opens with “Pioneer Valley Trial”, a poem by Maryam A. Sullivan (Umm Juwayriyah). Ms. Sullivan’s award winning novel, The Size of a Mustard Seed, was hailed as the first Islamic urban fiction title by a female author. The novel’s publication in 2009 marked an important stage in the evolution of urban literary fiction. Ms. Sullivan is currently working on a set of children’s books, the first of which is entitled Hind’s Hands, about an American Muslim girl with autism. She is also in the process of writing her second novel, an urban fiction romance.
I am an ardent admirer of Ms. Sullivan’s work, and was delighted when she accepted our offer to feature as a guest author in Issue Five of StepAway. “Pioneer Valley Trial” is a powerful cri de coeur on behalf of America’s oppressed and excluded urban minorities, which resonates through the city’s canyon-like streets.
This is followed by “The Way It Used To Be With Espresso” by Mary Shanley – a jittery, caffeine fueled strut around downtown Manhattan. Meanwhile, “After the Hospital” and “Borges’ Tiger” are both poems by the Paris based American poet Alexandra Ernst. The first recounts a mysterious, watchful encounter on the Pont Saint-Michel, the second examines the predatory element of flânerie.
[bridges] is a poem set in Caloso, a neighbourhood in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where the poet Rose Hunter lives and walks. Followed by “The Flâneur” in which Christina Murphy observes the urban observer. “A Morning in Harlem” by Elves Alves makes sacred the streets and alleyways of the uptown neighbourhood, whilst underlining the precarious and fragile predicament in which its residents are held. And “Sweat Street” by DJ Swykert reveals the many configurations of urban watcher which develop in minatory spaces, from police street surveillance, to criminal street smart.
“A Casual Stroll Down St. Marks” by Patty Scull is a gaudy promenade through Manhattan’s phantasmagoric Lower East Side. “The Plateau Revisited” is Reed Stirling’s flash fiction meander through Montreal. “Nobody’s Home” is a stark vignette of urban homelessness by J.D. Blair. Finally, Robert E Wood’s “Oxford in July” is a sleepwalker’s wander thorough the city as it awakes.
Far be it from me to stand in the way of our writers. So, without further ado, I implore you to put all discussion of statistics, hits and submissions to the back of your mind, and simply enjoy our fifth issue.
Thank you all, once again, for your support over the past year.
Darren Richard Carlaw