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Vol 38  No 11
March 16, 2006


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Idle talk leads to literary journal

By Leslie Vryenhoek

Meghan Beresford (left) and Tomasz Mrozewski show off the first issue of their literary journal, Zeugma. (Photo by Leslie Vryenhoek)

What started as an idle conversation on a slow night at work in Bitters pub soon launched Memorial grad students Meghan Beresford and Tomasz Mrozewski into the world of literary publishing.

“One night in December we got talking about starting a small press. It was just idle chatter at first,” says Mr. Mrozewski, an M.Phil. student. “We realized that wasn’t feasible, so we decided on a literary journal.”

Ms. Beresford, who is working on a master’s degree in English, says the duo was motivated by the desire to nurture their own writing, and to create something tangible. “We deal a lot in theory and we spend a lot of time thinking, but we don’t actually make anything you can pick up and hold and drop.”

After that conversation, they moved quickly to create a magazine “before we lost interest,” as Mr. Mrozewski puts it.

The first order of business was to settle on a name. Seeking something offbeat, preferably something with layered meaning, they started at the end of the dictionary. Zeugma soon became the front runner. “It refers to a sentence construction in which the verb modifies two different parts of the sentence,” explains Mr. Mrozewski. Noting it’s easier to give examples than explanation, he offers: “He took my word and my wallet.”

“It also means a joining, a conjunction, and it’s the name of a Turkish city that’s a bridge between two ports,” Ms. Beresford says. “We said the word a few times and we liked it ­ and we really liked that it sounds good when you shout it.”

Once Zeugma was named, the would-be editors, neither of whom has previous publishing experience, had to figure out everything else about starting a journal. They admit they didn’t know what they were getting into, and that ignorance helped them to plow ahead. When they told friends and acquaintances about their intentions, they were surprised by the reaction.

“We didn’t have a lick of cred ­ no money, no backers, but people believed us. There wasn’t a whole lot of skepticism,” says Ms. Beresford.

Mr. Mrozewski concurs: “This is a community where people want to see something like this succeed. For me, it was the first time I’ve experienced that kind of faith.”

Their call for submissions caught the attention of over 100 contributors, about half from Newfoundland and others from across Canada, the U.S. and as far away as China. They each read everything ­ the editors plan to continue as the sole readers ­ and found they were in agreement on what to include in their inaugural issue.

With tons of hands-on help an do-it-as-you-go training in silkscreen printing and hand binding, they were able to produce 200 copies of Zeugma in time for a late-February launch. Issue No. 1 is a 48-page volume of eclectic poetry and prose, interspersed with full colour artwork and photography, that has garnered significant attention in the media.

Now with bookstores beginning to enquire and a website in development, Mrozewski and Beresford are making plans for the growth of their quarterly journal. They are researching grants, and expect to increase, perhaps even double, distribution of the spring issue. That issue is slated for printing in May; submissions close on March 31. Established and new writers are encouraged to send their unpublished work to zeugmamag@gmail.com.

The guidelines? “We’re looking for fresh, original, strong writing,” Mr. Mrozewski says.

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