Shining a light on some of our favorite publications
It’s All Folk
–by Corey Florindi, Managing Editor, The Fourth River
When it comes to my artistic passions, poetry and editing do not stand alone. For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with all things music—playing instruments, singing, discovering new artists, learning as many things about the craft as I can. It should come as no surprise that music heavily influences my poetry and other writings. Particularly, I find my interests gravitating to styles of bluegrass, folk, country, blues, and jazz—genres that can all fall under the canopy of Americana. I play it on my guitar or banjo, I listen to it throughout the day, and I am also quite keen on writing about it. As it turns out, there are a number of other poets and essayists who feel the same way.
The Museum of Americana Literary Review was first brought to my attention last summer. A friend emailed me a link to the homepage with the simple message: “This has you written all over it.” Indeed it did. The Museum of Americana is a home for writers obsessed with not only the musical aspects of our country, but also its history, myriad cultures and traditions, and, of course, all those odd little facets that make the USA the USA. The Museum of Americana is currently on its seventh issue, so it is a relative newcomer to the literary scene. However, this does not undermine its quality. Every issue offers an array of fresh, thought-provoking writing, challenging the reader to broaden or reconsider his or her perception of what America really is. Pieces about Bo Diddley, the solace found in a picture of Joe Dimaggio, and the life of a miner’s town carpenter and his wife are just smattering of what the journal publishes.
Here at The Fourth River, we look for writing that examines, challenges, puts pressure on, and/or reimagines our sense of nature and place. In other words, we like a fresh take on traditional motifs. This can also be said for The Museum of Americana. Their philosophy states the review is “dedicated to fiction, poetry, nonfiction, photography, and artwork that revives or repurposes the old, the dying, the forgotten, or the almost entirely unknown aspects of Americana”. Perhaps our journals paint with different colors, but we certainly work from the same palette. As a matter of fact, the connection between our journals runs deeper still in that we share a number of contributors such as Monica Berlin, Susan J. Erickson, Wendy Vardaman, as well as our current guest editor, Michael Walsh. The latest issue also features a novel excerpt from The Fourth River’s fiction editor Marc Nieson.
My favorite feature of the journal is the “American Songbook” page which “features covers of American traditionals (read: public domain) and originals that come from that line of descent”. Here one can find SoundCloud uploads from Americana musicians and writers alike. The Museum of Americana makes it known that the music is just as important as the writing. Among the recordings are familiar, yet reimagined tunes like “Goodnight Irene” and “Erie Canal”, but there are also three tracks by renowned poet Cornelius Eady. They’re quite good, too.
The addition of an audio page to a literary review is may seem like a novelty, a way to stand out in a world of seemingly countless outline journals. And it certainly is. However, this is not just a tacked on feature, but rather a reminder that writing can and should go beyond the page/screen. Writing is only one aspect of art, one medium in which to examine Americana. As a poet and musician, I am thrilled to see the link between them honored in such seamless fashion. The Museum of Americana proves that an artist’s creative expression is not limited to a single form.
I am writer who believes in reaching across the artistic aisle by incorporating music and history into my own work. I believe everything an American produces and thinks is Americana.
The Museum of Americana strives to collect as many facets of this broad topic as possible, recognizing they cannot stop at the written word. A word that can perhaps be synonymous with Americana is folk. We hear this term applied to music, art, and, of course, legend. This journal proves there is also such a thing as folk writing. If this term seems pretty broad, you’re right. I’ll paraphrase the blues man Big Bill Broonzy: It’s all folk. I’ve never seen a horse do it. When accounting for Americana, we must realize and embrace the fact that there is room for all. Room for poetry and prose, room for history and legend, room for writing and visual art and music. This is a belief recognized and beautifully expressed at The Museum of Americana.
For more information and to peruse the journal visit: http://themuseumofamericana.net/