America, Digitally and Redactable
I could tell Digital Americana was my style just by looking at the covers. One has a black and white photograph of a dude in wayfarer sunglasses giving a peace sign. There's a photograph of a father and child playing baseball and on another, an illustration of a horse. Simple, Americana. The Fall 2012 issue of Digital Americana boasts a playing card motif; white lines on a beautiful red background. I was already in love. And the work inside kept me there.
Most of the poems and the fiction in this magazine have a road-trippy, wanderlust feel to them. Bust out Old Glory and cue Simon & Garfunkel. They've all come to look for America. In a poem called “Mid-South” Stephanie Schlaifer writes, “at the hotel, we change quickly. You go from jeans to jeans and a clean button-front shirt. The boots stay.” I appreciate the simplicity of the poetry in this issue. In a poem by JéanPaul Ferro, he writes, “We thought there was blood on our hands from all the strawberries that we had picked, when I looked up the late summer sun was setting right behind her head, darkening her brown hair like it was iron bars on a cage, she wore her white dress, the one with maroon polka dots.”
I especially love two poems by Megan Hall. In “Distance” she writes:
I allowed you
to sail me over lakebeds
pull me up cliffs
across broken bridges
but I could not kiss you
with any trace of thunder
and ends with this beautiful line that I kept rereading:
love was the sacks
of luminous, worthless stones
you made me carry
up and down
In “Addictions” she writes, “her beauty is so beyond repair/ that she will catch fire in the rain” and gorgeousness like “her rage has silenced moonlight/ painted over forests and fathers/ filled the earth with glass and bone.”
Fiction-wise, I love “The Outlaw Cordelia Powell” by Khristian Mecom. A story about a fifteen-year-old girl and her relationship with her father, with some fireworks and a summer crush thrown in for good measure. Mecom captures the feelings we all recognize. She writes, “She had a startling clear memory of sitting in this exact same spot, when the truck was newer and cleaner, with cold air blowing on her face as she drank a cherry limeade soda her father had just bought her.” “The Outlaw Cordelia Powell” comes complete with fireworks, early morning fishing, a cute boy with a cigarette tucked behind his ear, fist-fighting, a cowboy museum and kisses.” I don't need much else.
There's some flash fiction from Andrew Kozma. It's called “Nebraska” and I love it because it lists quirky names of cities. I used to write obituaries for the local newspaper and would get so stoked to come across a cute little city name that was new-to-me. (See: Monkey's Eyebrow or Mudlick, Kentucky.) Kozma writes “Smileyberg, Kansas. West Thumb, Wyoming. Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. What Cheer, Iowa. Mechanicsburg, Virginia. Smack Dab, Nebraska. These strangers would describe their towns, but the details would caricature. Bird-in-Hand full of hunters and pessimists. West Thumb overrun with gardens. What Cheer full of pharmacies and liquor stores. Smack Dab exactly what you would expect right where you would expect it.”
Digital Americana has a lot to offer. Book reviews, interviews and an essay, along with lots of fiction and poetry. This issue is ninety-two pages long. There is also more art inside, all of which I found to be lovely and modern. Folk art photograph collage-ish type deals; people with fox heads holding rifles and someone dressed in an old-timey deep-sea diving get up. The magazine knows how to use their beautiful graphics well. In an interview, when "Someguy" (also known as Brian Singer) is asked what his favorite color is, instead of the word 'blue', there is a graphic of a gentle-blue rectangle. The graphics reflect the hodge-podge, be-a-part-of-the-art-process vibe Digital Americana is giving out. And the contributors have the usual lot of books and MFAs, but it's not intimidating. It seems like a safe place for all writers, published and non-published alike.
Additionally, Digital Americana has a really cool (free!) app and a (free!) feature called Redact. The Fall 2012 issue is dedicated to the term. According to Merriam-Webster, one definition of the word 'redact' is “to obscure or remove (text) from a document prior to publication or release.” The app allows the reader to black out text the same way they could with a fat black Sharpie marker. A story can take on a whole new meaning. Don't like the ending? Change it. You have the power to turn light into dark or dark into light. You can make a funny story suddenly sad or make something important, suddenly trite. An essay at the beginning of this issue examines the whole idea of redacted art: “Jasper John's exhorts himself in his sketchbook working notes: 'Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it.'”
In an interview with Someguy, the artist talks about the texts he's taken a real black marker to. Popular classics like Catcher in the Rye and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as well as The Holy Bible. A page from Exodus has been blacked out to leave only the mentions of the word 'gold.' The Digital Americana Redact app gives readers the same opportunity. And through the app, the reader can share their new masterpieces with friends via social media.
Digital Americana features modern Americana. It is available in print (from Mag Cloud) or digital format for your computer/iPhone/tablet. Regarding the tablets, editor-at-large Tony Fasciano tells us “Digital Americana was accepted into the first round of iPad Apps that launched with the release of the first iPad. We built the first issue of Digital Americana without ever seeing or using an iPad!” That's proof of how unique this magazine is. And Fasciano tells me that they've “made some headway with an upcoming standalone Redact app which has a new feature for challenging readers/writers to create redactions based off a series of creative poetry prompts.” Coolest. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with next. I really enjoyed this magazine in a grab-a-cold-beer-get-in-my-rocking-chair-on-the-front-porch kinda way. Honestly, what's more American(a) than that?
Please note: The Redact app is free for a limited period of time only.