Publication dislocates from Web to print

Grad students debut their print publication – and the persistence it required

Don M. Burrows

A literary journal created and produced by University graduate students has leapt from cyberspace to the printed page.

Dislocate, a 117-page paperback journal, will be for sale this evening at a public reading celebrating that leap.

Between its glossy covers, designed by University student Brandon Towns, is the culmination of years of planning and dreaming by English graduate students: poetry from a dozen writers, three creative nonfiction and fiction works, an essay on literary theory and an interview with a Pulitzer Prize winner.

But there’s a story not told in the table of contents – how students at the University took a Web-based product and put it on paper.

“It’s been a really interesting process,” said Mike Mueller, a second-year fiction writer in the department’s Master of Fine Arts program and one of the journal’s co-editors. “It’s kind of crazy how many tiny things have to come together to even get a word on the printed page. It takes an awful lot more time and effort and people (than a Web edition).”

The print edition required more trained staff and much more money.

But even when Dislocate was first launched and still confined to Web browsers, editors were working toward an eventual print edition, said Jennifer Johnson, also a co-editor.

The editors wanted to prove they could secure contributions from readable writers, and saw the inexpensive Web edition as a door to the printing press.

“From the very beginning, we wanted it to be a print production,” Johnson said. “It seemed strange to us in the MFA program to not have that.”

Rachel Moritz, one of the editors who launched Dislocate, said she and fellow graduate students wanted a literary magazine unlike those already on campus.

The annual magazine would solicit entries from around the country – not just from University students. And it would be produced by graduate students.

“We wanted to give graduate students editing skills, production skills and things that might help them out down the line,” she said.

The journal features writers from South Carolina to California. The English department’s diverse pool of students helped find this broad field of contributors, Johnson said.

“The one good thing about being in that program is that we have a lot of graduate students who are from across the country,” she said.

Each volume of Dislocate will have an interview with a noted writer, often one of the prominent writers who visit the English department each year, Mueller said.

The first volume will include an interview with Pulitzer Prize winner Edward P. Jones, who came to campus as a guest writer last spring.

“He’s a fairly reclusive fellow, and our interview is pretty fun,” Mueller said of the conversation.

Editors said tonight’s reading, which will highlight some of the material in the journal’s inaugural issue, likely will become a fixed element of the publication’s outreach.

“We want Dislocate to be a presence in the community,” Johnson said. “The Twin Cities has an incredible writing community, and we want Dislocate to be a part of that.”

The reading also will offer an opportunity to present the product to the public. Editors are still discussing the best way to distribute outside of such events.

The staff also must now decide what will come of the Web product that sired its paper offspring.

“I think what we’re leaning to now is that the Web issue will be a support for the print product,” Johnson said. The online product will probably offer some but not all of the material in its printed counterpart, she said.

Regardless of such outstanding issues, staffers intend for Dislocate to become a permanent fixture. The second volume is on the way.