The nightmares and joys of being the editor of an artistic newspaper. Rejecting submissions for lack of quality, deviation of subject, length (the submission guidelines are there for a reason!), and sometimes even for downright disrespect of the readers and fellow authors — disappointing unsuccessful submitters hurts at first, but you get used to it. Reading, re-reading, suggesting changes, filtering, ordering possibilities, linking texts with a similar theme, taking ten steps back for perspective, is an exciting but arduous process. Then there’s the tedium of organising files, keeping track of e-mails received and sent (whilst trying not to be too laconic in communication), not to mention the editing itself (fonts, punctuation, line breaks, indents…). Time expands and contracts as other, more utilitarian responsibilities call out for attention. Hopes and fears rising and falling as you write an application for funding, which asks you for an indicative draft index of the next issue, that you keep chopping and changing for thematic and geographical balance. Sometimes I wonder if I should pack it all in and spend more time on my own writing, but then again, since I began working on this newspaper, I’m actually writing more, and with greater fluidity. The constant dialogue keeps me on my feet; this very evening, I received a poem that blew my mind, and that makes all the trouble more than worthwhile. Best of all, collaborating with people I highly admire (foremost among them, the designer Marco Scerri) gives me greater faith in being human, and thus greater faith also in staying creative.
Earlier this week, someone asked me if we’re offering a fee for successful submissions, or if “this will be another unpaid content thing?”. A good and valid question. As a writer myself, I highly appreciate it when publications and festivals offer payment. I wish I was writing and editing for a living! Le monde n’est pas rond is a no-borders activist publication which we work on voluntarily, in our free time after our paid jobs, but the style and outlook are professional. The printing of Issue 1 was made possible by donations from Passaport Project, on behalf of No one is illegal – Luxembourg. We’re now applying for cultural funds to subsidise the next three issues. The first challenge is to break even. Later, if we sell enough copies and manage to make a profit, we’ll offer nominal fees for publication. Given the specific political subject matter – migration, borders, and human rights -, it won’t be easy.
Migrant artist-activists in the US (Favianna Rodríguez, Julio Salgado, CultureStrike) have managed to make a busy career out of their creative and political activity, and we see them as models to be followed; here in Europe, debate on borders and migrants’ rights remains more academic than artistic, and it will be an uphill struggle. Not to mention the ironic linguistic barriers: publishing in 4 languages (English, French, German, Luxembourgish) is as much an asset as a drawback. But we won’t give up easily. We’d like Le monde n’est pas rond to eventually become a platform for artistic debate and expression, documenting and coordinating individual efforts in different parts of Europe and beyond, in favour of softer borders, universal freedom of movement, and a world which is equally round for all, as opposed to a complex polyhedron of nation states whose size and shape varies according to one’s passport (or lack of it).
The call for submissions for Issue 2 (September) of our artistic newspaper can be found here. We’ve received scores of very good poems already, but we’re particularly on the lookout for haiku, short stories, photographs, art and illustration (any cartoonists out there?), maps and infographics, and book / film / cd reviews. You’re invited to submit!