Thursday, October 23, 2008

What's in a Name?

There's a new print journal that is currently seeking submissions. It's called The New Anonymous. What makes this journal unusual is that its anonymous editors intend to remain that way and they plan to publish all work anonymously. Now you'd think that your return address or your email might reveal your name, but there's someone identified as "The Mediator" who will remove all identifying matter before passing your work on to the editors. Should your work be accepted, you will receive a document prepared by the journal's attorney. (I didn't know that new journals had attorneys—or old ones for that matter.) This document apparently will bind you to secrecy. Your work will be published, but your name will go into the ether.

The purpose is apparently to assert the primacy of the work and the insignificance of the author. The editors describe their intention: "By freeing the prose and poetry from their nominal ties, we free writers from their own generative forms and creative dispositions. The New Anonymous is, in effect, a safehouse where writers can not only question the creative process, but also, in the words of Freud, 'play.'"

I can't help wondering if this is some kind of joke, similar to the online anthology that recently usurped so many of our names and attached them to fictitious poems. Why would any poet want to send out work anonymously? Am I an egomaniac if I want my name attached to the work that I've labored over? If I've spent years learning and practicing the craft, why wouldn't I want a few people to know my name? I can understand blind submission and selection, but blind publication just doesn't make sense to me. If my work were accepted, would I later be unable to include my anonymous poem in a collection of my own work?

My suspicion that this is a joke is enhanced by a visit to the front page of the website, which is identified as Buckbee, A Writer, Inc., a publicly traded company. Shares of stock are offered, but there doesn't appear to be any product. The Chief Executive Officer is identified as Brian Christopher, aka Buckbee. The website looks like a business site with a professional design, but has pages that raise doubts, e.g., a page about Buckbee's latest physical examination, an exam which took place in his backyard and consisted of jumping on a trampoline as well as picking up small objects.

I won't be submitting. How about you? And what do you think—a joke or for real?

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1 comment:

  1. This isn't all that original. Free Lunch did an anonymous issue about twelve years ago. I published in it, though I suppose I can't prove it.


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