Inklette interviewed a friend, Loud Zoo Magazine, which is “concerned with powerful and unique visions rather than chasing markets and pandering to trends.”
Loud Zoo is a fresh and daring magazine. Its journey is marked by a grounding honesty. In this interview, we have tried to bring to fore its ideology, story and more so, its unique voice.
Here is Josh Smith, the Editor-in-Chief of Loud Zoo, interviewed by our Intern, Haley Zilberberg.
Haley: Can you elaborate on your ideology and future goals?
Josh: I’m historically terrible with goals, but around a year before we started Loud Zoo, I approached a longtime friend about joining the staff and he responded by asking what we were hoping to accomplish by reviving Bedlam from its dormancy. That friend was onto something. Maybe he knew we needed some direction, maybe not, but in asking that question, he sparked a string of potential projects and outcomes that ultimately led to what we’re doing today. The pieces were all there; I just hadn’t stopped to consider the possibilities until that moment. We had been kicking around the idea of shutting Bedlam down on our tenth anniversary, but I still had a feeling that we could do more. I knew that if we built a magazine on a socially-conscious base, it would not only keep us more engaged, but we could make a deeper connection with our readers as well. Our ideology is sustained by this drive, and sharpened by paying attention to the climate shifts both in literature and the world at large.
We acquired our first translated work for the last issue, which was stunning, and we would really love to feature more. It seems that beyond the works of well-known writers and magazines that focus exclusively on translations, American literary publications don’t often contain them. Of course, there are exceptions, but from where we’re standing, far too many perspectives are ignored, unable to breach the language barrier. If we see increased translations in the greater literary arena, I feel like we’ll see an immense shift in the types of stories and books that people will seek out, which will likely affect film and television productions, making the wider scope of storytelling more interesting. We’ll keep pushing with our platform, hopefully other editors will as well!
Our ideology is sustained by this drive, and sharpened by paying attention to the climate shifts both in literature and the world at large.
We also haven’t talked publicly about our first book yet, and I can’t keep it contained any longer… We’re working with Ali Eteraz (who appeared in Loud Zoo #1) on a collection of poetry by Ramez Qureshi. Ramez was a Pakistani-American living in New York who took his own life just months before 9-11. His poetry embodies an energy and direction that virtually disappeared in the wake of the September attacks. It weaves between academic and cathartic, intimate and community-minded, and is wholly engaging throughout. The Qureshi family discovered an immense body of work, much of it handwritten, and provided us with copies to review. Catherine, one of our editors, has been meticulously transcribing all of these pages, and we’ve begun making selections for which pieces will appear in the volume. We hope to have it out by late 2016 or early 2017, with plans for a short-run special edition in the works.
Haley: Also, what is your perspective on this question: In a world that is becoming increasingly connected, what is the importance on focusing on individual communities?
Josh: The increased global connectivity is changing how we perceive just about everything, and no community is left unaffected, even if the impacts are indirect. We’re seeing communities of all types thrive and struggle, and if we pay attention, we can learn something and lend a hand when things are leaning in our favor. With artistic groups, we’re seeing people come together who never would have made contact otherwise, and absorbing each other’s far-reaching influences and inspirations. Once one or two people hit a groove, they tend to inspire their cohorts, and all of a sudden, there’s a kinetic burst where several undeveloped ideas catapult into something its creators never imagined possible. The larger the range of perspectives and new influences, the more powerful this burst, and the work it produces, tends to be. Small, isolated groups can stagnate and start to repeat themselves without new ideas to stir them up, and will eventually either dissolve or become toxic. Of course, we see this in political and other social circles as well.
Mainstream and alternative journals each serve important purposes in the lit world, and I don’t think one type could exist without the other — at least not currently. While mainstream publications tend to target the casual reader, alternative press is free to charge into the unknown, and in my opinion, the farther the better! Not every experimental work will change how we read, but a far fewer number of absolute Earth shaking pieces come out of the mainstream.
For us to be an alternative isn’t to catch the dregs from the mainstream, but to lift up the brave new voices who are poised to be the next mainstream, but haven’t yet had their opportunity for the world at large to understand them.
Literature is just as bound by the constraints of what sells as movies, music, and any other medium, and if a work doesn’t check off enough of the required elements for a publisher to consider it a money maker, it’s jettisoned without alternatives to provide it an opportunity. Journals are generally more accepting of challenging work than major book publishers, but there are definitely enough parallels to keep the little mutants like us charging through the underground. Also, as far as I can tell, there are approximately nine billion lit mags currently being produced, and as much as that may seem like a reason to not add another one to the stack, if we look back at this global connectivity, we see it opening up worlds of new interests for people to enjoy. Sects and sub-genres and niches, each one validates itself by its own guidelines, merits, and communities, and each one needs a platform to keep its fans sated and its creators productive. As such, we don’t focus on any single genre because we see merit in all of them. For us to be an alternative isn’t to catch the dregs from the mainstream, but to lift up the brave new voices who are poised to be the next mainstream, but haven’t yet had their opportunity for the world at large to understand them.
Blog Credits: Haley Zilberberg (Intern)
JOSH SMITH is not a pseudonym. He is, however, a jack of some trades. An aspiring mad scientist, he builds and amplifies noisy contraptions when time and space permit. He’s on Twitter – @jsbedlam. This is probably not his real face. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Loud Zoo Magazine.
HALEY ZILBERBERG is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Social Work with a
Creative Writing minor. She writes about many topics, often surrounding disabilities and social justice. Haley has been published in Inklette and Loud Zoo (Issue 5).