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Squawk Back

Publish the Unpolished, and Polish the Unpublished


Squawk Back was formed during the summer of 2011, by editor-in-chief Zak Block, and several of his friends. Our mission hasn’t deviated too radically from that with which we initially set out: to, in a sense, publish the unpolished, and polish the unpublished. Though Squawk Back does feature the work of published authors, some up-and-coming, some with extensive publication histories; we are also greatly interested in what could be described as ‘postmodern-outsider-literature’: written works of prose, poetry, non-fiction and memoir that can, among other things, be appreciated through, or have been created in, a kitsch/camp spectatorial mode; and that have been created, in some cases, by dwellers of the very fringes of society: be they the abjectly impoverished, mentally ill or incarcerated, but almost un- or intentionally beautiful.

We are a weekly online publication with permanent open submissions; we do not print a physical magazine, nor do we think we ever will, as we find it’s much easier to expose emergent or re-emergent authors to a burgeoning readership if we don’t demand recompense for their work sight unseen. And, since we’re strictly an online venture, we allow and encourage contributors to seek print publication of works already published on the site, as they are two different mediums. Furthermore, we allow and encourage current and former contributors to the site to advertise their own blogs and upcoming print publications on the pages featuring their work. Works submitted to Squawk Back, whether officially or unofficially copyrighted, will remain the full intellectual property of their authors. We are far less interested in exploiting emergent literary voices than providing them with a slightly louder box with which to squawk.

Beginning as a mixed grab bag of a daily literary blog, Squawk Back has evolved into a weekly publication now in its 53rd [or whichever it is by the time this is published] issue: the initial idea was to get as much new writing out there as possible, but we’ve now acheived, we hope, an overall aesthetic uniformity, without causing to become less rich and varied our various and motley contributors of assorted ages, degrees of experience and backgrounds. Squawk Back maintains an active presence on bookmarking and social networking sites like Facebook and Reddit, as a means of developing its audience, encouraging new collaborators to come out of the woodwork, and affording its contributors and editors valuable feedback on their work. In particular, our Facebook page has developed into something of an online community for both followers of the site and contributors to interact with one another and offer us constructive feedback pertaining to the look, feel, content and conceptual development of the blog.

Also, arguably unique to Squawk Back is its editing process: each issue is worked on by a rotating circle of ghost-editors headed up by the blog’s founder, Zak Block; these editors are very rarely credited directly (one notable recent exception being the site’s crediting Cheryl Spinner with guest-editing a poem by Jess Taylor, entitled “Squids”, and a short story by Melanie McDonald, “Tapestry”). The purpose of this anonymization of editors is to emphasize that, although we are rather picky, even capricious, when it comes to what we do or do not publish, we are, above all things, a literary blog edited BY writers, not merely ‘Editors’: that is to say, not merely editors performing the function of cogs in a meritocratic machine, wherein punctuality and presentation take precedence over talent and innovation; but writers, and readers, enthusiastic about writing, interested in encouraging the innovators of the future, be they from Ivy League schools, or those of hard knocks.

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1 Comment

  1. Jordan Blum said on 05/06/12 at 2:04 pm Reply

    Sounds fantastic, Zak. I’ll definitely look into submitting there.


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