Spring 2016, Volume 20


As a writer I grew up in the age of the small magazine.  Actually, I mean the age of its proliferation, for the Xerox machine had replaced the great-smelling purple mimeograph as the go-to copier on campuses and in offices. It took about a minute to see that with that innovation, some card stock and staples, you could pull an all-nighter and print a hundred copies of all the latest poetry and fiction that you could gather from your friends and colleagues.  It was a revolutionary time in many senses, but the ease and affordability produced a true democratization of the means of producing literature.  Hundreds of magazine came to life.  Of course, that life could mostly be measured in relation to the poor mayfly but, nonetheless, something important happened. That busy era has been compared to the age of the broadside in England.  And the printed small magazine flourished as a subspecies of the larger, more well-financed quarterlies, often bringing deserving artists into print who before would have been unable to find suitable portals.  A number of these magazine (and writers) are still with us.

But then something happened.  The personal computer. What does this have to do Verdad?  Let me talk about Verdad’s humble beginning (yes, “humble beginning” is a bit overused—to the point of cliché some would add—but in this case it applies).  I had the luck, blessing and privilege of teaching writing workshops in a large California college.  These workshops—classes, officially—were designed and scheduled to serve the broadest spectrum of participants—all gender-identifications, all ages, all ethnicities, all levels of development. Friday afternoons.  You didn't have to be a matriculated student to join (though many did); you only needed to purchase an ID and register for zero units.  We had marvelous, energetic, over-the-top sessions, piles of manuscripts (stories, novels, poems), and plenty of food and coffee brought each week by members.  The group, sometimes as large as thirty members, was cohesive, tightly bonded, and when a few members left at semester break, new members would take their place.

The Friday workshops were protected somewhat by the English Department, since students registered for an English “course.”  In a way they were our parent organization, though I was given pretty much carte blanche and hands-off.  So it came to pass that with all the energy and all the output, the group decided they needed a magazine.  Okay, let’s see how that works.  To make a longer story short, not too well.  Any attempt to get funding failed, sometimes the casualty of turf wars (it was an English Department after all), and truthfully the college was not interested in having a literary magazine; hell, they already had a weekly newspaper.  To launch a mag, we needed a couple thousand dollars (okay, maybe it was, 1200, it was a long time ago) but there was no way to get it.  Then someone in class said, “Why do we need money?  We don’t need a print version.  We can put it online.”  So, a new effort:  Let us start an online magazine.  I will skip the byzantine shuffling and dodging that that idea produced among the academics, and I will simply say that the college had little time to put forth effort or be associated with it.  I compress a great deal here.

This was a group not to be daunted.  A few members got together on their own, purchased a domain, wrote code (or something like that) and produced the first edition of Verdad in spring of 2006.

Now back to the mayflies.  Online publication was now the democratizing engine for new writing, and magazines flitted through the ones and zeros like snowflakes.  Most did not have a very long presence.  But the two women who ultimately took ownership and directorship of the magazine kept it alive and thriving.  Verdad has lasted for ten years.  Ten Years! 

Bonnie Bolling, Editor-in-Chief and general factotum, nurtures the magazine like a mother lion. A lauded poet herself, she has untiringly sought, solicited, wheedled, cajoled, strong-armed, and invented…I run out of verbs here—whatever it took to keep production going.  Her energy and commitment elude descriptions that do them justice—She has overseen submissions, small donations, assistance, help from writers both local and abroad, and all this with complete dedication, focus and intent.  She has been heroic in keeping the magazine growing, its content expanding,  and its design evolving.  And here I must praise her able, artistic, intelligent and efficient co-editor and web designer Rochelle Cocco.  Rochelle, who knew nothing of designs or programs for creating them, gathered material, learned the programs, mastered the art expressly for Verdad.  These remarkable women have worked side by side, along with a number of volunteers and assistants, for a decade, without fail, without pay, for only the love of the magazine and its contributors and readers.  Without them there would be no Verdad.

I am happy to have been present at the magazine’s birth, and have been able to remain in some sort of far-flung association with it over the years, mostly as a cheerleader, sometimes as an editor-at-large, sometimes as just someone who has coffee with the real workers every once in a while.  And the work that they do is excellent.

If you are reading this, then you are a reader of Verdad.  This is a wonderful thing to be, for you are participating in the life of a magazine that was born, not with the proverbial silver spoon, but more like café coffee stirrer.  It is gritty, real, harboring no pretensions and striking no attitudes.  But you know this. You have been reading writers like Christopher Buckley, David Long, Ellen Bass, Charles Webb, Al Maginess, Denise Duhamel, Millicent Accardi, Brian Sousa.  Moreover, you have seen, throughout the issues, the gorgeous works of visual artists like Beth Kerschen, Marcia Weisbrot and Jack Miller.

So we can rejoice that Verdad is feast for both the mind and the senses.  Some of us can celebrate that we have read the magazine from its beginnings, and some of us can be happy that we have newly come to join this far-flung family of readers.  So let this be a celebration, then, but more, let it be a christening and hope for another ten years of fine art and literature.  And let us all spread the word (and joy) to others via whatever our favorite platforms might be, postcards (yes, those), email, twitter, helium balloons, actual conversation—you get the idea.  Yes, ten more years of entertainment, education, and edification (Aristotle said that—he’d say it about this magazine, I’m quite sure).  And I may as well borrow something from Faulkner too: in the turbulent world of publishing where many valiant and worthy startups do not endure, Verdad is the small magazine that prevailed.

    Frank X. Gaspar