Collect call from the other side: the creator explains 'The Cliffhanger'

Vol. 3 of the Cliffhanger. from 2014 spring semester D. Peone (‘15)

Vol. 3 of the Cliffhanger. from 2014 spring semester D. Peone (‘15)

If you have ever received an email from the SLC Student Treasurer with the subject, “Funding Your Publication,” and if in that moment you were overcome with gasping and arrhythmia, then you might have been equally blind with excitement as I was in 2013, when I learned of the opportunity to start my own playground on the press.  

It was late January. I had just transferred from SUNY Ulster. My head was still swimming from hoop-jumping between institutions and my bags were not entirely unpacked, but after reading the email carefully I realized that my chance to create “the Cliffhanger.” was time-sensitive. Here’s what I had to do in order to make my dream come true:

1)    I responded to the email. I made an appointment with someone at Student Affairs to discuss my idea and to learn more about the process.

2)    The next step was registering for a student organization. It was simple. I just filled out a registration form, available on MySLC. With the help of a friend, Emma Duvall, who agreed to be my co-chair, we crafted a mission statement. I submitted the form to Student Affairs and waited for the Senate to approve the organization, which they did. We were instantly Student Organization Leaders.

3)    One of us had to attend a mandatory meeting for Leaders, which acquainted us with valuable information on how to expand our organization.

4)    I attended a mandatory meeting for Student Publications, wherein I learned from Josh Langman, the Publication Space Manager at the time, what the Space had to offer me, and how to determine my publication’s budget.

5)    I submitted my budget proposal to the Student Senate on MySLC and attended the hearing to present my plan for the Cliffhanger. A few days later, they approved the funding. Fortunately, I was well on my way to a 2-D heaven. One where even paper cuts tickled.

the Cliffhanger. is an experimental pocket-sized anthology for “fragments” of literature and black and white art. It differs from the other student publications in both form and content. Its dimensions are a mere 2.75 by 4.25 inches, making it literally the smallest student publication yet, and one that fits comfortably in the palm. As for how we differ in content, our submissions adhere to a theme which is best described by our mission statement:

We embrace the incomplete. What exactly does that mean? Here we like it short and sweet. The Cliffhanger. designates a space for the so-called in-between. This experimental pocket-sized zine is the parenthetical limbo of creativity. Finally there is a home for the underdeveloped, those rootless shards of verse, sketches-in-progress. The interlude of consciousness, so to half-speak. Simplicity. Brevity. Here the fleeting or still-born ideas may retreat. (Mid-sneeze!) Submit your bits of dialogue, micro fiction, run-on sentences that cling to supense or nonsense, and fragments of poetry. You get it. Postcard riddles. Broken refrains that end far too…  

the Cliffhanger. publishes submissions based on the following criteria:

  •       Is the character count small enough to fit on a page?

(We suggest an approximate maximum of two-hundred words. If a submission exceeds the limit of what a page can hold, we sometimes break it up into segments, spanning across several pages as a series. With the author’s permission, of course.)

  •       Does it feel incomplete or self-contained in some sort of parenthetical limbo? (This can be represented either by form or content.)

  •       Does it demand guesswork or leave readers hanging kind of uncomfortably?

  •       Does it exemplify process rather than product?

 

the Cliffhanger. accepts black and white art under the same conditions… the image(s) must fit— and also— somehow not fit.

 

           The idea for the Cliffhanger. was inspired by all the times I have “heard” a fleeting line while falling asleep and didn’t write it down, trusting that I would remember it in the morning, and upon waking, it having been lost somewhere in the pillow’s lining. The publication was also partially inspired by Dennis Lucas’ remote-control novel, Cliffhanger Notes.   

           So far, the Cliffhanger. has published three volumes: one per semester. Early in our vision, Duvall and I desired a low-quality zine-like feeling to the books, so we printed straight onto standard computer paper, with no cover, and used the duplicating building on campus (by the Post Office) to produce four-hundred copies. The issues were nine pages each and the stacks were separated in that rotating perpendicular fashion. In order to match the dimensions of a pocket, she and I had to fold each issue (nine standard sheets of paper!) into eighths (four-hundred times!). Then we stapled the bindings and finally sliced all the edges with a letter opener. At a rate of five minutes per copy, this hands-on approach was too much for just the two of us (and a couple of friends who were willing to donate their time!) especially since I have a disability of the hands. We still have a box of about one-hundred issues— yet to be folded, stapled, and sliced open—sleeping soundly in a pre-operative parenthetical limbo.

           So by the second issue we switched to using Graphic Management Partners in Portchester, NY. All I have to do is email the PDF. They send back a proof and I give the go-ahead. It only takes two weeks for the turn around, and is it exciting to pick up those boxes of our babies when they arrive! They look like real books, only they’re tiny as fair tickets. Some issues are available for circulation in the library’s zine collection.

           Anyone, not just a Sarah Lawrence student, can submit to the Cliffhanger. by emailing a word document or jpeg file to cliffhanger@gm.slc.edu. Our fall deadline is Halloween; in the spring it is Valentine’s Day. There is no limit to how many submissions you can send. They just have to be short enough to fit on the page and they should exemplify the theme of incompletion. We are currently accepting submissions for our fourth volume. If you have any questions about the Cliffhanger., you can email me at dpeone@gm.slc.edu. If you have any questions about starting your own publication or expanding an existing one, I am also this year’s Publication Space Manager. I will teach you everything I know.

the Cliffhanger. is run by Dina Peone (creator and editor-in-chief); Emma Duvall (co-founder and editor); Corin Lockery (facilitator extraordinaire); Lauren Scheck (editor); Alice Amundson (editor); and Sophia Manzi (the latest edition to the family). For details visit: thecliffhangerpublication.tumblr.com

by Dina Peone '15
dpeone@gm.slc.edu

 

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