Interview With After The Pause
Author: Michael Prihoda
How did you come up with the idea for After The Pause? What inspired the name?
The idea to found the magazine came from my personal history of rejection when submitting work. I wanted to showcase writing that might otherwise get rejected elsewhere, writing that deserved the light of day. And in some ways, I wanted more exposure to all the wonderful writers out there. Some of the specifics for the magazine grew out of my own predispositions regarding art and writing. I love experimental forms and the weird poems that squeeze thoughts out of you that you never thought existed. To me, writing should provoke reaction.
The name itself came from the idea of capturing the essence of art’s onset. The pause equals what life throws at us. Art follows the pause. Our journal wants to capture and display what follows the pause for all kinds of people out there.
What authors are your editors fans of? Does that have a bearing on how they select submissions?
David Foster Wallace. I personally love (here I’m thinking of Infinite Jest in particular) how hefty the writing is yet how nothing ever resolves. Foster Wallace paints huge swaths of life for the reader, shows the reader incredibly valuable pieces of the human experience, and then leaves the reader to go live his own life, having learned a great deal but also having been given few answers. We also love Roberto Bolaño, Steven Hall, and an eclectic variety of poets (Czesław Miłosz comes to mind).
As for selections, aesthetic subjectivism plays a role, as it does at any magazine. That’s probably a good thing, because it creates massive diversity across the literary landscape. We want to show off the things we really enjoy but also things that we think need to be seen or work that struck us in a certain way. If someone’s stuff is more Janet Evanovich than Foster Wallace, we still want to read it.
The artwork for each issue is gorgeous. How do you go about choosing the artwork for each issue?
We aim to feature one artist per issue. While we don’t plan to theme issues, by choosing a specific artist for each one we think it’ll give each issue a unique flavor, both apart from, yet inseparable from, the actual prose and poetry pieces displayed alongside the art.
The artwork itself either comes from a submission we love that we want to feature, or else we provide it.
What do you hope for contributors to gain from After The Pause?
We believe all art should be human. With this project we hope that people who get published in our journal and those who read the journal have their humanity enhanced. We hope the words provide hope and inspiration, not in the sappy Hallmark way, but in the gritty, life-is-tough-but-that-poem-made-my-last-thirty-seconds-more-bearable way. I think words come close second in providing comfort, right after other people. And sometimes, they come first. Always, they make us think, which is a neat aspect of life and something that, say, a chipmunk can’t really do. Have you ever seen a chipmunk engage in critical analysis of Pynchon? Probably not. Our humanity is precious.
Being a writer myself and contributing to other magazines out there, I know how getting an acceptance note can make a day. Having the opportunity to share work with people you’ve never met is a privilege, as is being able to read work from writers you’ve never met. A literary magazine provides both those opportunities.
What is the most challenging part about being an editor? What have you gained from this experience?
Deciding what gets in and what doesn’t. There are tough decisions. Also, being in charge of all the administrative day-to-day things that go on behind the scenes.
On the other hand, one of the coolest things as an editor is having the chance to read work from all kinds of people. It is such a privilege. Whether something gets selected by us or not, I am honored to have seen and personally read work from people across the globe, writing with crazily diverse styles and perspectives. Writing and reading make the world bigger.
What is the next exciting thing happening at After The Pause?
After our December issue hits the Internet, we hope everything just keeps rolling. We are tossing around the idea of slowly moving toward a print format once we get a couple issues under our belt. As much as we love the capability in online publishing and the ease it offers us, something about holding a printed copy remains so holy. So that’s an idea we keep percolating.
But also, we’re considering expanding the use of our website, maybe starting more website-based mini-contests or features, such as interviews of the authors. Further humanizing and gaining connection with the people behind the work is important to us. And there are lots of experimental/strange forms out there we’d love to incorporate and make room for in the literary landscape. We love the presentation of visual poetry and handwritten work and we’re looking at making space for that in our little wordy niche of the world.