Giving literature a serious Panking
-Cassandra Brabon, Lode Writer
When I arranged to interview the staff of PANK Magazine, I was told to meet them at the KBC. Hearing that, I knew this small group meant business, but knew how to have fun, too.
We met on a Thursday afternoon and in attendance were associate editor Roxane Gay (graduate student, RTC), assistant editors Enneessa Hahn (sophmore, STC) and Ben Dowker (senior, STC), reader Ashley Marie Fallon (junior, STC), and editor Matt Seigel (Assistant Professor of Diverse Literatures and Creative Writing, Humanities). Over a couple of pints, they laid out the story like this:
A nonprofit literary magazine, PANK rose from the ashes of the now extinct C-Literary Journal in 2006 when Professor Seigel was handed the project and told to “do something” with it. PANK 1 was born the following year, publishing poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, photography, and visual art from both nationally prominent voices as well as some closer to home.
“People may be surprised to learn those aren’t mutually exclusive points,” said Seigel.
The production of PANK begins with submissions, which are collected and read year-round by the staff. Selections are then made for the print and web editions, then the team switches into design and production mode.
For the first two print issues and all of the web content, PANK was designed by STC Capstone students, but printed by University of Minnesota Printing Services.
“Our design, both online and print, is always in-house and always will be,” said Seigel. “Why go elsewhere when the best are right at home. Printing, however, is very, very expensive, and we’ve been forced to bid that job nationally.”
Distribution is still regional, though the staff are working on getting the magazine into more independent bookstores around the country.
Locally, PANK can be found at Northwind Books, the Kangas Cafe (formally the Daily Grind), and the Community Arts Center, all three in Hancock.
Abroad, PANK can be found at Quimby’s, an eclectic bookstore located in Chicago, IL. This fall, PANK be present at the Small Press and Literary Magazine Fair at Wordstock in Portland, OR, at the Mid-West Small Press and Literary Magazine Fair at the Kenyon Review Literary Festival in Gambier, OH, and at the 2008 Miami Book Fair International in Miami, FL.
“We’re a member organization of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses,” said Seigel. “We’re shelved in the Library of Congress and are a part of the Little Magazines Special Collection at the University of Wisconson, Madison, Library. For a 3-year-old literary publication from a technical university with an annual print run of 500 copies, we’re pretty proud of the product and of the mark we’re making.”
Why a literary magazine?
“We’re about creating the future here, right?” Seigel asked. “PANK spotlights and augments a very distinct creative community in the Keweenaw by bringing the national literary scene to here.”
“PANK connects this place to a different landscape, a broader context,” said Gay.
“It’s a great resource for local readers and writers,” Dowker chimed in.
“I think PANK goes a long way to showcasing some of the amazing work that passes through these portals besides just that of engineers,” Seigel said.
“[The name] kind of came out of left field,” Seigel said. “We wanted something eccentric, something with good metaphoric potential, something with brand appeal, but also something that linked us to the community we come out of.”
The word “pank” is a regional term, a verb which means to pack down snow or earth, to make a trail. As in pank down the path. In the UP, there”â„¢s some evidence that miners used it as a term describing the packing of dynamite into blast holes.
“It’s also a word that suggests its own meanings,” added Gay.
PANK 1 was printed in 2007, PANK 2 in 2008. Volume 3 is scheduled for release in January 2009. Some content from the first two volumes is available at www.pankmagazine.com, as well as monthly online content and the PANK Blog. Individuals who would like to get involved with PANK, subscribe, donate, or see submission guidelines are encouraged to visit the website or email Seigel at firstname.lastname@example.org.