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Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Fuselit Fifth!

Eyewear isn't the only kid on the block turning five in 2010.  This September marks the fifth anniversary of Fuselit, the pocket-sized literary journal edited by young British poets Jon Stone and Kirsten Irving, which is celebrating its birthday, as well as launching its 16th issue, Jack, on the 31st of this month with a reading at The Book Club in Shoreditch.

Fuselit started life as an A5 photocopied black and white zine sold on a stall in the University of East Anglia campus for just 50p. Submissions editor Kirsten Irving had just come back from a year in New Orleans, during which she'd served on the editorial panel of the Tulane Review, and wanted to start a literary journal based on the idea of a 'spur word' for every issue - so that submissions for issue 1, for instance, would all be written in response to the word 'demo', issue 2 to 'catapult' and so on. These early issues featured work from writers like Joe Dunthorne, John Osbourne and Aliya Whiteley, all of whom have gone on to be published poets, novelists or non-fiction writers and have continued to appear in Fuselit issues right up until the present day.

After Irving enlisted the help of Jon Stone on the production side of things, Fuselit underwent various design changes, eventually becoming an A6, hand-bound volume with a mini-CD and extra free gifts, with each issue carrying its own unique features. Issue 10, Nude, came as four separate booklets. Issue 11, Cabaret, was full of pages that folded out in different ways. Issue 12, Fox, had individually painted covers. Only minor aspects of the journal's creation are outsourced; after a visit to the print shop to run off the pages on A4 sheets, Stone and Irving do all the cutting, ordering, binding and finishing touches themselves. As a side effect, the release schedule also went from monthly to bi-monthly, to quarterly, finally settling down to between two and three issues a year.

Recent issues of Fuselit have also featured various literary experiments in the form of accompanying booklets. Issue 13, Aquarium, arrived with the 'Chimerium', which allowed you to mix and match stanzas by Luke Kennard, W.N. Herbert, Heather Phillipson, Sam Riviere and others using pages that were split into three, effectively creating over 1,700 possible poems. Issue 14, Mars, came with 'Telemorphics', in which Kathryn Simmonds, Emily Berry, Hugo Williams and others provided new versions of each other's work after each piece had been run backwards and forwards through crude translation software. The latest issue features fake biography poems of famous Jacks, and includes work by Roddy Lumsden and Declan Ryan, as well as some Fuselit favourites. As a result of the success of these projects, Stone and Irving have started their own small press, Sidekick Books, specifically for the purpose of producing more multi-poet projects and mini-anthologies.

Though constantly changing, Fuselit has a style all of its own - increasingly inclusive but favouring the off-beat and quirky. Its small size has meant a bias towards shorter, sharper work - flash fiction, pop songs and crisp artwork as well as poetry. The next few years will hopefully see it maintaining these features while continuing to expand and explore in the way it has done since 2005.

Fuselit website - www.fuselit.co.uk
Kirsten Irving - www.drfulminare.co.uk/k.html
Jon Stone - www.drfulminare.co.uk/jon.html
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