What We’re Reading: the Innovative [PANK] Literary Magazine

Posted by Alexandra Ciarcia, fiction reader for issue 4.2


Cover art for the December 2015 issue of [PANK]

Amidst the literary journal renaissance that we live in today, Gandy Dancer finds grounding in examining other literary journals. From The Common to TriQuarterly, we have studied a plethora of literary journals, but the one that influenced our selection process the most is [PANK]. [PANK] was a favorite of Gandy Dancer for its innovative pieces, ones that could never be described as run-of-the-mill.

[PANK] is an online and print literary magazine, with a mission statement that reads, “[PANK] fosters access to emerging and experimental poetry and prose, publishing the brightest and most promising writers for the most adventurous readers.” Their search for innovation is displayed in their selected pieces and their overall aesthetic. We were very impressed with their November & December 2015 online edition. As they state in their submission process, [PANK] asks writers to “send us something that screams.” If you take a look at such pieces as “We Sad Girls” by Lindsey Reese or “Lavatory” by Diane Williams in the November & December 2015 edition, you’ll see what I mean.

This is something Gandy Dancer carries with us as we decide which pieces to publish for Issue 4.2. We ask ourselves, “Are the characters predictable?” or “Is the ending predictable?” as we read and analyze the submissions. We want pieces where the endings are surprising, yet inevitable—not endings with a cheap thrill. It’s easy to fall into the cycle of repeating what has been successful. This showed up in a number of the submissions, and we sorted out those with predictable themes and tropes.

Reading literary journals like [PANK] shows us young editors what to look for in our selection and editing process. The November & December 2015 online edition creates a sense of innovation that is difficult to find. For example, “We Sad Girls” includes such novel sensory details as the line, “We stand in the shower in all of our clothes, we leave them behind in a black heap, we let the stench chase us down the hall and follow us into bed.” “Lavatory” is just as original and evocative, too, describing a character with “a urine stain on his trouser fly.” These are the pieces that leave a reader feeling like they need to reread a piece to fully absorb all the details. Other times, the scenes came to life before our eyes. Furthermore, there is nothing cliché or tired in writing about girls who “fight to believe our entire lives won’t look like today” only to see these dreams fail. We hope that college students will aspire to this level of creativity.

To check out [PANK]’s November & December 2015 edition, go here. For more on [PANK], visit their website! Be sure to check out Gandy Dancer’s Issue 4.2, too, to see which innovative, breathtaking pieces we published.

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