While it prides itself on supporting up-and-coming writers, Phoebe, Mason’s longstanding literary journal, is now spotlighting some old favorites. Through its new Throwback Thursday blogroll, the journal presents one piece from a past issue each week and promotes it via social media.
When Mason graduate student Robbie Maakestad took over as assistant editor of Phoebe: Journal of Literature and Art last summer, he began scanning issues going back to the journal’s 1971 beginnings. Maakestad, who is working on an MFA in creative nonfiction, found himself fascinated with the works they contained, and dismayed at the thought of today’s readers never seeing them.
“We have this vast amount of content but nobody knows about it, and there’s no way to access it,” he says. “I asked if there was a way to start republishing this content online, and people were on board with it.”
Once the journal’s editors select a work, they make every attempt to contact the author for online publication rights. Although anything published pre-1980 can legally be used without permission, Maakestad says, “we don’t want to put anything up that would make authors uncomfortable or that they don’t feel represents where they are now in their careers. Because we’ve published some pretty famous writers.”
A short story by the late Alan Cheuse, for instance, was the first featured on the site to honor the Mason professor who died last July. Poems by Albert Goldbarth, originally published in 1974, will be up in March. And while the blog’s focus is currently on creative pieces, an interview with Joyce Carol Oates, printed after she appeared at Mason’s 2004 Fall for the Book festival, was too good to resist including.
The staff hopes to someday compile the archived works into a print collection. For now, though, Maakestad’s focus is simply to keep the project going.
“At one a week, we have enough content for the next 73 years,” he says. “My goal is to set the framework so people can keep going forward with it.”
Visit Phoebe’s Throwback Thursday at www.phoebejournal.com/category/throwbackthursday .