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The Legacy of the Year of the Short Story?

Posted: 30/11/2012 13:14

2012 was declared the year of the short story and back in March I wrote an article exploring the immediate repercussions of such a statement. Now, here in November, as the final days of the year come swift and cold, I thought it pertinent to inspect the year's legacy.

The best example of the change in values - the revived awareness and appreciation of the short form - came from Popshot Magazine. The past year has seen the magazine evolve into a complete literary butterfly of a journal - complete with stunning illustrations and fantastic works of fiction, it is a pleasure to read or just to look at.

Launched in 2009 by Jacob Denno, Popshot was originally a poetry only magazine, established to 'encourage people to write and submit their work, free of the elitism and name favouritism that some of the more established magazines were rooted in.' Its rise was swift: by July of that year the ill-fated Borders were stockists, and come 2010 The Independent named it one of the 'fresh breed of new literary magazines.'

Time, however, changed Denno's perspective. Once Popshot became established as a poetry magazine there grew a sense of stagnation. 'I think it had made its point and I wanted to focus on creating a truly great literary magazine,' Jacob said. 'Part of doing that meant introducing other forms of writing into the mix, such as short stories and flash fiction - something that I had wanted to do for a long time.'

Denno took influence from a variety of places. From the good work at literary journals such as The White Review to Port and Monocle, places 'which champion in-depth journalism, and quality writing.' The shift in focus, he said, was 'a breakthrough.'

'I've always been interested in short stories ever since reading French surrealist, Roland Topor, and Roald Dahl's macabre tales in his 'Kiss Kiss' collection,' and yet, 'rather hilariously,' (his words) he didn't consider adding them into Popshot until fairly recently.

Transformation, Denno found, bred revival. 'Subsequently, the logo was redone, the cover and interior templates changed allowing the layout to become more fluid, footnotes became endnotes, the website was revamped and so on,' he said.

But what has all this change meant? 'Popshot is a little more sure of itself now. In the early years there was a bit of an identity crisis: Popshot was definitely a literary magazine but I was doing everything I could to disconnect it from that world.'

And yet, there is a subtext here. That Popshot is a symbol of the times - that a magazine focused only on poetry cannot reach the absolute pinnacle of readership. That the real legacy here is that the world is in need of a Year of the Poem rather than one for the Short Story.

'There's still a stigma attached to poetry that is difficult to shift - something I think poetry in education is largely responsible for,' Jacob explained. 'Not everyone can read poetry, or thinks that they can read poetry, but I'd say most people would be happy to sit down with a short story.'

With Popshot Magazine, now you can do both.

 

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