A "Little" Magazine Makes Big Technological Strides

To See and Hear Samples from The Little Magazine, click here

For 20 years The Little Magazine has been offering poetry, fiction, and human insight to a national readership. Volume 21, however, offers something extra: sights, sounds, and a transport into the 21st Century.

The journal, which originated at Columbia University in the mid 1950s and has been published since the late '80s by graduate students in the Department of English, is now one of the first digital multi-media literary publications to circulate in the U.S., with a CD-ROM version for IBM/Windows. Hypertext, visual and audio poetry and fiction, colorful graphics, and short video segments are included in a multi-media mix.

"I think it is a real breakthrough," said Judith Johnson, award-winning poet and chair of the English department. "It's also absolutely essential. More and more, this is the direction in which publishing is going to go: printed text and in addition a digital publication along the lines of this Little Magazine. They are not competitive. It has been found that the CD-ROM attracts more readers, it does not cut into a book's sale in print.

"What the multi-media publication does do is allow artistic and literary possibilities that are not possible with print. It allows a fluidity for the reader to move from one train of thought to another: to listen to one poem while reading another, for instance, or to hear something while moving through a list of graphics." She added that the original intentions of some classic writers like Emily Dickinson — that readers be given word options for poems — can now be realized.

"It is truly a brilliant result from our student editors," said Johnson. They include Christopher Funkhouser (editor-in-chief), Belle Gironda and Benjamin Henry.

Contributions for Vol. 21 include the work of 75 different artists, among them nationally and internationally renowned poets like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jackson Mac Low, Charles Bernstein, Nathaniel Mackey, and Anne Tardos, as well as works of faculty members Pierre Joris and Laura Marello and many past and present graduate students.

The magazine's interface revolves around a design, "The egg of thought becoming human," digitized from an ink drawing by Ferlinghetti.

The editors are also not waiting for next year to expand the magazine's parameters. A "call for work" through February 1996 is being made now for visual and sound art conceived by artists as multi-media. It will be digitized for Volume 21B, whose proposed theme is "Visual Behaviors," and place on the World Wide Web. "The limits (as always) are only those which the technology still places on the imagination and vice versa," states the written invitation.

Funding for The Little Magazine comes from the College of Arts and Sciences and the SUNY Research Foundation.

The New York State Writers Institute will have an official "launching" of Volume 21 at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 4 p.m. in Humanities B39. The public presentation of the magazine will utilize computer images and overhead projection.

The Little Magazine is the latest example of University faculty and departments taking advantage of the technological revolution. The on-line New York Journal of Mathematics was founded in July of 1994 by current editor-in-chief Mark Steinberger of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. An English literary electronic publication, E-Journal, is the product of Department of English faculty member Edward M. Jennings.

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