These Turtles Not to Be Mocked

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by Ed Davis on November 19, 2012

The latest issue of Dayton’s own Mock Turtle, a first-rate, independent grassroots literary ‘zine, hits the streets on December 7. Distributed for free at selected coffeehouses, colleges and bookstores, this will be the sixth issue, and if it’s like the previous ones (available at their website), it’ll be another beautiful work of art.

I’m quite proud that two of my poems appeared in Issue #4, and a memoir piece, “Unexplored Country,” will appear in the upcoming issue, #6.

Love’s Literary Labors

Appearing at Antioch Writers’ Workshop last summer, editor/founder Christina Dendy and managing editor Matthew Birdsall appeared, wise, witty and dead serious about what they’re doing.  When they said they needed more nonfiction to accompany the rich feast of poetry, fiction and artwork the ‘zine provides, I did my best to accommodate. Maybe you, too, have some nonfiction gathering cyber-dust for a future issue?

Check out MT’s excellent website for a clear, complete description of their editorial board, submission and selection process; all former issues are housed there as well. Named for Lewis Carroll’s storyteller character, this “labor of love” should be a well-kept secret no longer. The ‘zine was appropriately lauded by Sharon Short in her Sunday, November 18 “Literary Life” column in the Dayton Daily News . I’m adding my own kudos from personal experience.

The Mavericks

Having founded and edited the literary magazine Flights at Sinclair Community College in the 1980s, I have an inkling of the amount of work that goes into producing a quality literary magazine. But Dendy, Birdsall and company, as independents, lack a major advantage I enjoyed:  the support of an academic institution.  I even received some “release time” from teaching duties to work on the magazine. Plus, the college underwrote the expenses.

Collaborative Approach

True, Dendy and Birdsall are editorially aided by some of the best writers in the Miami Valley, who read, review and ultimately select the work they’ll publish. However, they lack financial support other than the ads tastefully included in the ‘zine—plus contributions (please make one!).  But the editors solicit help on all fronts, and this would be a great venue for volunteering time as well as money. If you’re a writer who wants to be published, you should definitely know the other side, especially the sacrifice necessary to shepherd authors’ words lovingly into print. Almost all editors of literary magazines are writers, and those who produce Mock Turtle are definitely no exception. I offer them a bow and a salute.

In Good Literary Company

So if you share the Mock Turtle collaborative’s passion for art and the written word, please support this great Dayton literary project, which follows in the footsteps of Kim Willardson and Michele Whitley Turner’s The Vincent Brothers Review, and Scott Geisel and Brady Allen’s Mudrock, both maverick Miami Valley lit-mags financed out of the editors’ own pockets, both of which had long, honorable runs before they eventually ceased publication. Above all, pick up a copy of the Turtle at Ghostlight, Wright State or Dark Star (see Short’s column for a complete list of places where the ‘zine can be found).

Above all: read!

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