The short form: An interview with the editors of ‘Spry,’ a new literary journal

Linsey Jayne and Erin Corriveau, founders of Spry Literary Magazine.
(Photo by James McCready.)

On Monday, I had the pleasure of g-chatting with Erin Corriveau and Linsey Jayne, the founders of Spry, a brand new literary journal.

I know both Erin and Linsey from our MFA program, and I was intrigued by their mentions on Facebook and Twitter of a new literary magazine dedicated to brief literature.

As someone who naturally writes short, I really wanted to find out more, and so I asked them for an interview. After g-chatting with them for an hour, I’m excited about their project, which will showcase short, powerful pieces of writing, and I hope all the writers who read this blog will be as well.

Below is the interview, which is divided into three parts with page breaks. Click through, and enjoy!

Editor’s note: The following interview was conducted over the internet and has been edited. Lols have been removed, g-chat typos have been corrected, and for the sake of clarity, some  sections of the interview have been moved around.

(Also, the ladies make reference to a “Third Semester Project.” That’s an academic project that Fairfield University makes its MFA students do in order to obtain their degree.)

What is Spry?

ASpryJ: So tell me about Spry. What distinguishes Spry from the other journals out there? What’s your vision for this publication?

Erin: Well, Linsey and I both studied “short” or “brief” literature during our third semester projects and we also really respect how well words are used when the space is limited. I’d say that what distinguishes Spry from other journals is the dedication we have to concise yet well-done writing.

AJ: So all the pieces in Spry are going to be super-brief?

Linsey: Yeah, we want to reward the bravery and power and experimentation that exists in shorter forms.

Erin: Ditto to LJ, that being said though….We’ve seen a lot of poetry that is concise to a fault (even though I wouldn’t really want to put it that way) I think we have a lot of poets sending us work that is quite sparse… While we don’t want epic poems, we also aren’t only searching for haikus.

AJ: That’s pretty cool. For short-form work, I’ve seen a lot of flash fiction journals, but not so many cross-genre journals dedicated to the short form. You’re accepting a few different genres, right?

Linsey: We sure are! We’re accepting submissions in creative nonfiction, short fiction, flash fiction and poetry.
Sorry. Flash anything, not just fiction.

Erin: Yes, and…. flash creative nonfiction too.

On Brevity:

AJ: This might seem like a silly question, but what’s the difference between flash and short fiction or non-fiction? Is there a word count cutoff? How does it work?

Erin: We had many discussions about this.

Technically Linsey is the expert here. I can say, though, that for our journal, fiction and creative nonfiction must be under 2500 words for the “normal genre” and then for the Flash category, all fiction and creative nonfiction must be under 750 words.
I don’t know if Linsey wants to speak more to how we came up with those numbers or anything, but I can say there was a lot of discussion…. and also a lot of forgetting what number we chose.

Linsey: I can if you’d like – in my Third Semester Project, I studied the superfine lines that exist between prose poetry and flash fiction (and flash fiction / short fiction), and while more often than not this is something that is dictated by the presentation of content, most publications seem to consider flash fiction as being around 750 words. Sometimes it’s a bit longer, no longer than 1,000 usually. So since our passions were driven by the shorter, more agile work of the economy of words, we stuck to the shorter end of that spectrum. And when I say flash fiction, again, I just mean flash prose.

Next section: Submitting to Spry, Issue One and Naming Spry

What my MFA program gave me.

This is where our residencies are held.

On Saturday, I graduated from my MFA program in Mystic, Connecticut. We had one more day at the residency, and now, I’m settling down to eat some lunch and do some laundry at home. I want to reflect on the program in a post, but because I’m still a little fried from 10 days of workshops, seminars, heavy drinking and various other writing-related activities, a proper blog post is beyond my abilities.

Luckily, yesterday I took a seminar, given by Porochista Khakpour, on experimental writing, and now I don’t feel the need to adhere to traditional forms.

So here, in no particular order, is a list of some of  of the things I’ve gained from Fairfield University’s Master of Fine Arts program on Enders Island in Mystic:

 

An MFA in Creative Writing, with a concentration in creative fiction

Five pounds

At least 100 Facebook friends

At least 10 really close friends

The pleasure of working with four talented published authors, who mentored me and read my work

The pleasure of having workshops with nine other published professors, and of taking seminars from many more

The honor of drinking a lot of Crane Lake table wine with almost every professor in the program, whether I worked with them or not

The company of poets

Several short stories that I might be able to publish

Two that I did/will publish

A trio of ill-conceived poems, inspired by Crane Lake table wine, sleepless nights and the company of poets

An article

Writing groups

Hundreds of bug bites

Dark circles under my eyes

A deep aversion to salads

The knowledge that my liver can still take abuse

A rudimentary understanding of LinkedIn

A first draft of a novel

The understanding that there is a big difference between the first draft of a novel and something that is good enough to show to an agent/publisher/my mother

The knowledge that I have to interview at least six drag queens in order for my novel to work

A funny-looking cap and gown and hood

Resilience during workshops

The ability to at least be quiet during workshop if I can’t be resilient

A love of strong verbs

An almost Pavlovian response to seeing bottles of Crane Lake table wine

50 other ideas for other novels that I can’t pursue until I hand this piece to an agent/publisher/my mother

Student loans that will come due any second now

A few connections

Some pointers on living my life after the MFA

A suspicion that life post-MFA will be a lot like life during the MFA, only without monthly packets and with student loans

The chance to see Wally Lamb, Sue Silverman, Mary Karr, Charles Simic, Philip Schultz and Rick Moody as they read from their work.

The haunting phrase, “Go get the eggs, you dwarf,” courtesy of Rick Moody’s reading in 2009.

An aversion to adverbs

A very, very long list of books I want to read

A long list of books that I have read

The knowledge that I may die at a very old age without having been able to read every book mentioned by every person I met at the program

The experience of being a fiction reader for Mason’s Road journal

The experience of being a T.A.

Two years of predetermined plans on New Year’s Eve

An ability to follow my bliss

Thank you, Fairfield University. This was exactly what I needed.