canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

TDR Interview: GRIMM

Jodi Stone, editor and creator of GRIMM, a journal of the literary and visual arts, says of the third issue, "It’s a real stunner." GRIMM premiered in the Spring of 2005 with its inaugural theme "good old-fashioned escapism," an upstart journal with a sleek, monochrome design, wherein its readers are invited to "open and enjoy." Issue two is titled "Deca(y)dence" and adopts the duality inherent in the process of decay amidst flagrant abundance. 

GRIMM, says Jodi, is "a creature that stretches beyond the storybook but, like Cinderella, wears last night’s velvet and lace as a constant reminder that something wonderful, something a little beyond commonsense, waits to knock on your door and take you away." 

The third issue (April 2005) is titled "In Portal Vision." Included in this issue are, "40’s Hollywood imagery, gritty road signs, travel fiction, visual poetry, and a new format for visual art." The themes of GRIMM are discovered after its content has been chosen. Jodi eschews a predetermined theme, instead calling an open submission for each issue. Originally straddling Canada and the UK, GRIMM has settled in Kitchener-Waterloo, but maintains its international flair, and is distributed nationally twice per year.

Access GRIMM at 

(May 2006)


Why GRIMM? What inspired GRIMM's conception?

The magazine’s name plays with duality. Defined, it can mean rigid and unrelenting, yet when linked to the Grimm Fairytales, it infers a lucid rendering of reality. So GRIMM presents this lovely duality between what is perceived as common and real, and what, when aligned with fairytales, is escapist, where everyday lines are blurred. In choosing this name for a journal of the literary and visual arts, we are corralling a certain kind of submission: something daring, stepping outside of traditional literature – not your cottage variety.

Why is it different than other literary magazines?

Oh, the dangerous question. I will answer that by saying what we do and not by what other literary publications do not (for there are many fine publications, ones that we would never imagine ‘competing’ with – we wanted to create an alternative format for the many burgeoning artists in Canada).

GRIMM provides a tantalising format where the works of literary artists are punctuated heavily with that of visual artists. Our new layout offers an average three-page spread to display the work of an individual visual artist – a presentation we feel is akin to a gallery exhibition, complete with negative space for audience contemplation.

As GRIMM’s mandate is to encourage and expose experimental and innovative work of high artistic merit from new literary and visual artists, each issue features work from new artists. However, GRIMM was also conceived as a learning tool for the aspiring, and as such we publish work from established and international artists. For example, in Issue No. 3 we present Swedish poems printed in their original language along with their English translations to serve as an educational banner. The intent is to show our readers what artists are doing outside of Canada so that we, as Canadians, can strengthen our craft with wide, worldly eyes.

What is the importance of literary mags in the span of a writer's career?

Specifically, GRIMM magazine initiates new writers to the publishing world. We guide them through aspects of publishing and give them the ability to have their work printed exactly as they want it. We do this by sending them proof files – which can be up to four times per contributor per issue – to enable them to make changes to the presentation and material of their piece.

Generally, literary magazines provide writers with the encouragement to continue practicing their craft by publishing their work in established literary magazines and, on a grand scale, working toward the astounding Journey Prize should the writer’s sway be short fiction. Literary magazines are intrinsically nurturing for new writers and submission to them is essential as a right of passage; the rejection letters build character, thicken skin. As well, as the response time is not instantaneous, submitting work to literary magazines teaches the writer patience.

I'm interested in GRIMM's call for new writers and also for "writers and artists with literacy difficulties." Can you tell me about this?

One of our editors is a dyslexia specialist. When we conceived of GRIMM, we envisioned supporting new artists. GRIMM was always intended as a source of encouragement in the often-discouraging field of writing. We have recognized that there are strong artistic voices that require a little assistance with their vehicle of expression. So, we offer complimentary services where artists with learning difficulties can send us audio files of their work and we will help them transfer this to print.

Can you explain your intent behind the Random Highbrow contest and how it works?

Random Highbrow is word play. It is an online competition wherein writers are encouraged to form 10 words randomly selected from a work of classic literature into a piece of intrigue (either poetry or prose) of 250 words or less. It is fascinating what some writers have come up with from words selected from Machiavelli’s The Prince, or Dante’s Divine Comedy: Hell, for example. Through an electronic voting process, three of the top submissions are selected and printed in the following issue of GRIMM. However, all submissions are posted online (edited solely of work representing hate material or otherwise inappropriate content) for the duration of the competition.

How did you corral your band of editors? What have they brought to GRIMM?

The editors were first selected from a broad band of associates who were active members in the literary and visual arts community – Writers, Artists, English Professors. We also started with a balanced board between Canada and the UK to support the International slant of publication and exposure, but we have since streamlined to a strictly Canadian focus and have picked up a few more fine Canadian artists as editors.

They have brought the necessary energy and enthusiasm that keep GRIMM alive. Editors are just as important as the contributors are to the magazine in mapping its landscape and directing its path. They work hard to nurture the work of new writers by providing swift and personalized responses to all submissions. Even if a writer’s work is not fitting for GRIMM at a certain time, writers still respond with thanks for our care and attention to their work. This would not be possible without the passion of our editors.

What is apparent to you now about the dual life of a writer and editor?

As an editor, I can see why some work is not always the right fit for a publication. This is the tricky part of being an editor of a literary magazine – trying to offer encouragement to new writers, but still forming an issue with a cohesive thread, something that is thoroughly enjoyable for the reader. As a writer, I would love to think that all submitted material can find a home, but as an editor I realize that isn’t possible. The editor is more realistic, rigid, where the writer (at least the fiction writer) should be allowed to think uncommonly. That GRIMM duality again – see how it affects all aspects of an artist’s life? The real question is, can they be reconciled? I offer that they don’t need to be, and perhaps shouldn’t be. It’s that frisky balance that keeps art fresh.








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