It’s no question that we have some fantastic literary magazines here in the Twin Cities, and Whole Beast Rag is definitely one of them (we’ll be honest… WBR is now based in LA, but it was launched locally so it still counts!). We were lucky enough to chat with the co-editors in chief and founders, Katharine Hargreaves and Grace Littlefield. Check out the interview below–it’s the cat’s pajamas!
A little about Katharine:
Katharine Hargreaves is a creative director, armchair systems theorist, curator, and writer. She is the Creative Director and Co-Founder of Whole Beast Rag, an online publication and project label for artists, writers, and thinkers on the frontier. Her other projects include: ART GYM (a physical workshop), Puppetmouthe (a blog about being), and Mouthcloud (an ongoing postcard exchange). She lives and plays in Los Angeles. Find more of her work at www.projektkatharine.net.
A little about Grace:
Grace Littlefield went to school for English at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, took a nine-month trip to LA and came back, and now lives somewhere in northern Minnesota. Arthur C. Clarke is her estranged great-grandfather (she wishes). You can find more info about her on her website: cargocollective.com/gracelittlefield.
1. Why did you choose the publishing route you have taken/Whole Beast Rag? How has the experience been thus far?
Katharine: Whole Beast Rag was born out of many reasons, but mainly necessity. The literary landscape is vast and inspiring, but as a publication we are not interested in the traditional literary format. Whole Beast Rag seeks to expose trends and ideas afoot in the cultural landscape and collective psyche and we do this using the artist’s eyes and ears, We walk the line of what is fictional and what is real, and this makes the experience of publishing a magazine challenging. But it also allows us a space to evolve the conversation in a way that pushes boundaries. And this is why we exist.
Grace: I’ve been in publishing environments before that were under a lot of externally-exerted pressure to publish certain kinds of content and certain authors; I wanted and Kat wanted to publish content that we thought was thought-provoking and rich, regardless of what readers might expect. We started Whole Beast Rag to publish content we wanted to read ourselves, and then it expanded into what it’s become because apparently other people have similar tastes. (We also don’t have advertisers, a Board of Directors, or anything like that, which has made this easier.) It’s been interesting, to see how the guts of a book are curated and what the process is (it’s strenuous).
2. What is your favorite local literary/book event?
K: Reading erotica out loud on a back porch somewhere.
G: The bookfair at AWP is the Mecca for this sort of thing, though I realize it’s not local (at least not until 2015). The Twin Cities Bookfair is pretty good, too, though I’m sure most of your readers attend that one anyway. I won’t be able to go to AWP this year, which totally sucks, but I usually stock up on lit goodies there.
3. What is your favorite local bookstore?
K: Hands down Magers and Quinn.
G: I’m out in the boonies, and I definitely miss Magers & Quinn for this reason.
4. What is your favorite place to write, let alone read?
K: My favorite place to write is sitting at my desk, however boring that may be. Or in a coffee shop given certain conditions. The best place to write is on the road, sitting somewhere you’ve never been.
G: I don’t have many options, really, since I only have a desktop computer (so old-fashioned, I know). I take notes on my iPhone, and whatever scrap of paper I can get my hands on. I do prefer writing during the day when no one’s home so I can focus a bit better. I live on a farm and it’s cold now, so I tend to do most of my reading in our guest house with a fire in the woodstove.
5. How has living in MN influenced/affected your goals in publishing?
K: Frankly, the conditions of the publishing industry and the attitude, at times, toward experimental methods and aesthetics means that in order to survive as an artist I had to leave Minnesota. My goal has never been to be a publisher. My goal has only been to expose the pure idea in its most eloquent, startling form.
G: I doubt I would have had much interest in publishing if I hadn’t gone to school in Minneapolis. I probably would have pursued something even less practical (like scholarship in English literature, ha!). But Minnesota being what it is–a highly-literate state with a lot of publishing houses–it was something I couldn’t really avoid.
6. Is there a special project you’re working on? If so, what?
K: We’re about to launch a brand new online experience for Whole Beast Rag and it’s the bomb, nuff said. I have other projects but they’re top secret for the moment.
G: I’m working on a science fiction novel. Also writing a lot of Letters to the Editor that I have yet to send, like any other hermetic grouch.
- What are you reading now?
K: THE HOPE: A Guide to Sacred Activism by Andrew Harvey; The Ecological Thought by Timothy Morton; and a book on grids.
G: The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin.
- Are you participating in NANO?
G: Yes! Thanks for reminding me!
- Do you own a cat? If so, how many? [The Official Cat-O-Meter Publishing Poll]
K: One and that’s enough.
G: I no longer own a cat; our housecat passed away last year. But Kat and I, when we were living together in LA, were the proud parents of a cat named Wanda (named after my aunt, actually owned and usually fed by Kat).
Thanks so much, Katharine and Grace!