With a beer in one tentacle and a book in another, Paper Darts is taking back the lit scene, one lame pen and quill metaphor at a time.

We are primarily a magazine, but we are also a publishing press, a creative agency, a community, and an idea.



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This American Lie


Dakota Sexton

An old friend is telling me about how he once had a vision of doing a literary series that would mostly involve robots. Lots of robots. Enough robots to stand in for every bad literary reading cliche, including “goth-emo girl” and “shouty-angry man.” 

This feels like real genius. Admittedly, I have been drinking. Even sober, though, I’d be really, really excited about this. But I know it will never happen.

So does Ryan Duke, the guy telling this story, who I met almost seven years ago when were both fiction writing students at Columbia College in Chicago. For me, a lot of the time following our first class together involved me either loving or (mostly) hating people who wear tights-as-pants, kind of like a politician confused about what’s up with women’s rights. Ryan, on the other hand, was going places.

He was attending literary readings that he noticed were frequently dominated by performers. He unapologetically loved them.

High on the list of readings he admires is Write Club, which bills itself as “bare-knuckled wit” and pits two writers against each other for no longer than 14 minutes. It’s pretty easy to describe the atmosphere as at least a little unhinged. And then there’s shows like 2nd Story, which Ryan admires for giving audiences well-rehearsed, polished performances that detail each author’s deeply personal stories.

Ryan wanted to produce his own take on a show, that would highlight each of these elements. The reading series—robots and all—would be riotous. It would be rehearsed. But it would also highlight the short fiction he felt isn’t necessarily suited to a no-holds-barred literary battle.

Laughing, he counters that with, “What the fuck do I know about running a show?” He’s modest. He’s a former theatre nerd, and his family is actually lousy with talented voice actors. He knows things.

Regardless, he pitched his idea to other writer friends, including Simon A. Smith, and asked them to contribute. He also notably began talking to actors like Eleni Pappageorge and other theatre friends. Everyone contributed. “Everything was a group decision,” Ryan says. The show evolved in earnest until August of 2013, when Pre-Post Humanists Present launched a show for the first time.

The show featured fiction written by C. James Bye and James Tadd Adcox, but did not feature them reading their own work. Instead, voice actors stepped up and voiced the characters and story of each work themselves. In the case of an excerpt from Bye’s novel, this gave several actors the opportunity to give the kind of vivid, multiple-character-driven performance that’s unlike virtually any other reading series…but a lot like a play.

Brandon Paul Eells, the voice of the show's malevolent computer.

Did I forget to mention there were still robots? Okay, I mean, there was a computer. An all-knowing computer. Inspired by post-humanist fiction, science-fiction-related reads like H+ Magazine, and Ray Kurzweil. (Otherwise known as the guy who believes the Singularity is near. Or in real words: that soon, maybe computers will be so smart and intuitive that they can maybe be your girlfriend, but maybe don’t actually think beer is cool.)

The influence of all that nerdery on the show is easy to see. In between the staged readings of short fiction, the Pre-Post Humanists Present collective performed sketch comedy featuring an animated computer eye projected onto a wall, that notably berated and abused the show’s hosts.

Its sole purpose appeared to be to make the humans humiliate themselves. The list of possible activities it had come up with seemed endless: dancing, performing at literary readings…

The usual humiliating things.

So why call it Pre-Posts Humanists Present? Ryan explains it like this: “The joke on [Pre-Post Humanists Present] is that it’s before what comes next—apocalyptic stuff,” he says. “We had a computer always threatening us. So he was The Singularity.”

Simon A. Smith with Eleni Pappageorge

Ryan isn’t shy about admitting that the show is a weird hybrid of two very different shows—it’s essentially two plays wrapped in a comedy. Does he think the stories ever get overshadowed?

The answer is yes.

“It was neat and different. I was really committed,” says Ryan, “but it took a lot of people to just objectively look at it and tell me, ‘You have two shows going.’”

He will now readily admit, “The silliness seemingly drowned the fiction.”

Future shows featuring the collective’s version of a Singular Consciousness are now on hold. Ryan hasn’t given up on dramatizing enjoyable short fiction stories, though. The talented folks he runs with at Pre-Post Humanists Present are just now releasing the details on a new series called Reading Out Loud. This time it’s online. But it dramatizes fiction using many of the same voice actors, and with plans to produce audio performances of stories written by authors including Aaron Burch, James Tadd Adcox, and Elizabeth Crane.

The whole show is a bit like This American Life, with one very big difference: they don’t tell true stories. What the collective does plan to do is tell short, enjoyable fiction; use professional voice actors; and also utilize post-effects including audio effects and musical queueing that complements, not distracts, from the actual narrative. “We’ve joked that it’s This American Lie,” Ryan says.

FROM LEFT: Jason Polevoi and Jon Haverkamp in the sound booth; Coby Goss; Sara Gorsky

In the future, he says, “…the dream is to be picked up by radio stations.” They haven’t ruled out the possibility of a live show either—the group has considered taking it on the road to produce it for live audiences all over. Just as the original live show did, it’s an idea that’s going to evolve.

Submit to Reading Out Loud

If you want to get your work read by the talented voice actors of Pre-Post Humanists Present, keep in mind these guidelines:

Flash fiction: Up to 1,000 words

Full-length, short fiction submissions: 2,000 to 4,000 words

Beyond that, almost anything is game. What interests the collective most, Ryan says, is “character-centric stories, people moving in space.” He adds that “Stories that read well in this format have interesting characters that cause trouble.”

But don’t let that overly limit what you submit. Be creative. For examples of what Reading Out Loud has already produced, check out:

“Bedwetter” by Ryan Duke

“Lightly Used Boy,” by Simon A. Smith

Get more details on how to submit your work here.


Robot designed by Drew Ellis from the Noun Project


Calling all black hearts



On February 14, the Twin Cities will welcome a new take on local fashion through the Black Hearts Ball. Lead by the designers Tim+Thom and a cohort of local designers, the night promises a spectacle of clothing, art, music, and showmanship. 


What: Black Hearts Ball
Huh: Presented by TIM+THOM, The Black Hearts Ball is a glamorous black and white semi-formal event welcoming fans of Minnesota fashion, opera, orchestra and theater.  
When: Friday, February 14, 2013


Doors open at 8:00 p.m. with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres
Fashion and Opera Performances at 9:00 p.m.


Where: The Minneapolis Club, 729 2nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55402


Paper Darts: What was lacking in the Twin Cities fashion scene?

We think the fashion community here is AMAZING. This city is full of driven designers that have definitely cut their teeth, have an unique vision and possess an extreme skill in executing and presenting their ideas and pushing them over the top—the bar is set high here. We think the scene isn't necessarily lacking in punch or zeal at all-for our event, we just wanted to offer a different type of fashion event (more of an arts event featuring fashion) than the usual commercial runway event.

PD: What mark are you looking to make with this event? 

We wanted to bring a different kind of fashion event to the Twin Cities that mixed fashion with avant garde art forms (performance, opera, and classical music) in an effort to have an elevated/sophisticated experience that isn't typical of commercial fashion shows. Since it's a ball that is more formal and sophisticated, we decided to draw inspiration from the glamor and prestige of the golden age/turn of the century as an inspiration. Overall, we view Black Hearts Ball as more of an arts event featuring fashion and opera rather than a full-on traditional runway event. 

On top of creating a different fashion experience for audience, we also wanted to provide a different type of runway event opportunity for our designers. It's almost more of a 'fashion as fine arts' opportunity for designers. We are giving them complete freedom to create a collection and performative runway experience (complete with an opera accompaniment of course!) instead of just a standard commercial/retail runway show.  

PD: Where do you see the Twin Cities fashion headed? 

We are really interested in expanding the fashion audience and making the community here welcome to people who aren't immediately embedded in the industry—hence our approach of calling Black Hearts Ball more of an arts event featuring fashion than a full on runway event.

We also want to give the audience already embedded in the fashion scene more diverse opportunities—both in the traditional runway sense and in the non-traditional runway sense (e.g., an arts event featuring fashion). 

We hope to do more events like this in the future—events that are engaging and exciting to a diverse crowd of both fashion industry insiders and a broader arts audience.



Garrett Born Photography

Danielle Everine



Sarah Holm



Carly Schoen

Black Heart Ball Designers:

Tim NavarroThom Navarro / Danielle Everine / Laura Fulk / Sarah Holm /
Rachel Roff / Carly Schoen



Interview: Amanda Atkins

By Sam Trevino

On a windy November afternoon in Allston, Massachusetts, I met with artist Amanda Atkins for an interview. I first became acquainted with Amanda when we were attending the Art Institute of Boston—and living in the same poorly-lit dorm. Now in her mid-twenties, Amanda is an educator and an artist living in Boston with a flair for both the old-fashioned and the whimsical. Crafting her stylized portraits is a personal and introspective labor of love, fueled by inspirations, influences, and an extremely intimate vision. Amanda and I caught up over coffee as she shared her process.

Sam Trevino: Is artwork your main means of earning a living?

Amanda Atkins: Actually no. There was a time when it was: I was working retail, just really struggling to get by, [and] working really hard to make art my primary career. But in the past few years, I’ve gotten really involved in teaching and working with kids. I have really kind of fallen in love with it. So…now it’s like I have two jobs! They kind of ebb and flow into each other, and the kids are really inspirational in terms of making artwork. It’s been really fun.

ST: When did you first start making art?

AA: As a child. When I was little—and even still today—my two biggest loves were animals and pictures, and I thought that I would either be an artist or a veterinarian when I grew up.

ST: If you had to pick one animal as your all-time favorite, what would it be?

AA: Well this answer is kind of boring and generic, but I love dogs. I grew up with dogs, and they are such wonderful creatures and I think they’ll always be my favorite.

ST: Don’t you have a cat right now named Unicorn?

AA: (laughs) That’s my roommate’s cat. I love Unicorn very much though. I actually grew up with both dogs and cats, and I have a cat that still lives with my mom and dad who I’ve had for 21 years. Her name is Tiger and we have a very special connection.

ST: Other than animals, what else influences your art?

AA: Since I was 11 I’ve had a really big fascination with the 1940s and 1950s. It’s impacted every aspect of my life, but most especially my art.

ST: Back in college you would often focus on famous historical figures as the subjects of your drawings, a lot of famous authors…

AA: (laughs) Yes! I [also] love Matte Stephens, a painter who works in an illustrative, 1960s-esque style. His color palettes are beautiful and his art is so fun. I love paintings that are kind of mysterious, and I’m inspired by people making their own businesses in a grassroots way.

ST: Going through the work on your website I was reminded a little of Portland-based artist Carson Ellis.

AA: Yeah, I love her work, how everything is sepia-toned and old fashioned, how she tells little stories with her work. She’s an amazing artist who definitely evokes a certain world.

ST: You have also done cover art illustration, for both DigBoston and Write Bloody Publishing...and you've done illustrations for a children’s book too, right?

AA: I did; I did a children's book which was also in collaboration with Write Bloody Publishing. It was really fun. Derrick Brown wrote it and I got to do some cool illustrations of whales and the ocean and nautical things, so that was very fun.

ST: What’s it called?

AA: It’s called I Looooove You Whale (laughs).

ST: How was your experience working and collaborating with Derrick Brown on that project, and contributing your work to Write Bloody in general?

AA: Oh I love Write Bloody Publishing. Even before I did work for them I was a fan of Amber Tamblyn, the actress, and she worked with them a lot in terms of her poetry and that’s how I discovered them. I got really into their books, and I always loved their cover art, so when Derrick emailed me to do the cover for Karen Finneyfrock’s book [Ceremony For The Choking Ghost] I was over the moon excited, so I’ve been lucky to have been a part of everything that they do.

ST: I mentioned already that subjects of your portraits are often actual historical figures—like Sylvia Plath or Virginia Woolf. At least as often, it's also women who seem fictitious and fantastical, like the tattooed lady on the cover of Ceremony For The Choking Ghost. Are strong female subjects a consciously planned theme in your work?

AA: Yes. I definitely want to paint women that speak to other women especially, and I’m really honored every time a women buys one of my paintings and tells me what it means to them. I love hearing the different meanings that other women derive from the paintings. They’re definitely often fictitious, but they all have different feelings when I’m painting them and I’ll have a different idea of what the girl I’m painting is like while I’m painting her. I like them to represent different strengths.

ST: Could you expand on that? What are some of the different strengths you've imagined for each of your paintings?

AA: Empathy, courageousness, adventurousness, and sensitivity to the world. These are all things I admire in other people, and I just like to try to capture them in the paintings of the women I do.

ST: Do you start out with a clear idea of what each of your characters, each of your paintings, represent?

AA: Sometimes I’ll start and have a solid idea of the painting before going in, and then the evolution is very minimal. But sometimes that changes while I’m working on one, and I feel a little detached from these characters, like it’s just something that "wants" to be created. I don’t always feel like I have full control over it, and I see what happens when I’m drawing. It’s sort of a dialog between the work and seeing what happens.

ST: Do your characters all have names in your head?

AA: Well the paintings themselves have titles, which I guess are kind of poetic. They can be a little wordy I guess, but I love titling the paintings to indicate how I was feeling when I painted the ladies, but I don’t really give them giant backstories. I feel like I have an idea in my head of what’s going on with them, but I kind of like to keep them free and not weigh them down with too many connotations. They’re pretty open for the viewer’s ideas.

ST: In your portraits, the figures are very stylized and all seem to have expressive eyes and drastic features, with elegant, elongated necks. Where does that choice come from?

AA: I honestly don’t know…I think it signifies a sort of ballerina-esque beauty that, for some reason, I want all my ladies to have.


All rights reserved to Amanda Atkins.


When "Having it All" Means Working Over the Holidays

Lizzy Shramko

When people ask me what I do at parties (not that I really go to the types of parties where people ask that question), my first response is not “managing the social media pages of the organization I work for.” No. I am a writer. I like to DJ, read, cook, and I love riding my bike. I am also a closeted academic and read queer theory when I can get a good chunk of time to sit in front of a book and parse through the latest academic buzzwords. The tasks that I complete during time paid for by someone else can’t even begin to encapsulate the many interests and passions I have.

Yes, there are some super lucky people in the world who love the work they are financially compensated for (or suspiciously claim they do on Facebook), but for many of us a day or night job is just that—tasks you do during the day or night.  

More often than not, the hours that you spend doing stuff you get paid for do not represent your interests in their entirety.

This is why designated, paid time off for people is so important—and not for the reasons many people think.

If you have a full-time job, often times your responsibilities do not neatly fit in your workday. This translates to working on projects at 9:00 p.m. when you were supposed to be off at 5:00 p.m., or going in to work a shift at 8:00 a.m. and leaving at 8:00 p.m., or just spending time outside of work thinking about tasks you have to do at work. Even if you work under 40 hours a week these things are often expected—without the benefits.

The paradox of full-time work is that outside the 40 hour work week you are often expected to respond to emails or deal with “emergencies” as they rise. If you don’t have a full-time job, you lack the benefits that make it possible to feasibly have consecutive time off in the first place.

But paid time away from your job plays a vital role in cultivating the other work in life.

This is true for all people, not just “creative people”—whatever that means. Whether it is composing a remake of the Game of Thrones theme song using a cat on vocals or making time to paint landscapes or taking on the task of turning your bike into a fixie, these things take time, concentration, and valuable brain space that can be filled to the brim with tasks and projects from your paid work. Also, not to get all sentimental, but these things are the things that make a person who they are.

For me a full-time job is a different kind of burden.

I belong to a gender that has been historically and continually paid less than my male peers. 

I won’t receive the same benefits or be able to take similar amounts of time off (and I have the privileges that go along with being a college educated white woman, so there is no telling how others experience that). If I decided to quit my job to write full time it would be harder for me to find a publishing house that would publish my work, or a publication that would use stories with my byline. These are realities I, and many other people, face when making choices about work, life, and writing.

So after years of underemployment, now that I am a full-time employee with benefits, I take advantage of paid holidays to do actual work. I write. I take photos. I make lists. I research conferences and gatherings across the country. I strategize about stories I want to pitch to publications. It takes time to craft meaningful pieces, to factor in relevancy in a 24-hour news cycle, and to think about what artistic integrity means to you. During paid holidays I have an opportunity to shut off my working self and I have time to put energy into my writing. 

I don’t take Christmas vacation as an opportunity to engage in Christmas activities. I don’t spend time with my extended family, because they all live on the East Coast and I prefer to maintain my sanity and not travel during one of the busiest and most expensive times of the year. I don’t have kids, and at this rate I’m not sure I’m ever going to. There are many conversations about women “having it all” that have focused on one type of work outside of paid workraising a family.

For me “having it all” means having both the financial compensation/stability that goes along with full-time work and the time to create meaningful work outside of a paid job. Or better, being paid for work you create. This should be true whether you create novels or babies.

As a non-paid writer (I think I’ve made a total of $138.97 over my eight-year writing career), I don’t do it for the money (but I would if you paid me). Writing helps me process things, and as a young woman who identifies as a feminist, let’s just say there is a lot to process. The types of books that top the New York Times bestseller do not contain characters or points of view that reflect the complicated world I live in. Even independent publishing houses are dominated by a pervasive white masculinity that claims “objectivity.” This is why having days to spend 10 hours thinking through, imagining, and writing is so vital for me. There is a lot to process on the pathway to creation. Luckily I have role models that help me along the way.

My mom, doing what she does best.

I grew up in an unconventional household where my mother, Greta Huttanus, was a writer and poet. While she was paid to work at a bookstore (and not paid to work as a mother), she spent the few down hours she had writing. I understood at a young age that sitting on the couch surrounded by thick books and seemingly unrelated sheets of paper meant “research.” I also understood that writing took time—lots of time.

I was lucky enough to learn that it was not weird for a woman to be a writer and that what you do to earn a living does not define the person you are.

My mom, who thankfully quit her job at a bookstore, is still sitting on her couch reading, doing research, and writing. I currently date a full-time musician who works really hard, is super talented, and gets paid to do something he loves. But people who are paid for what they create don’t really get paid holidays, and they could write an entirely different blog post on the precarity of being paid for creating things. (Except they are probably too busy making things to do that.)

The point I am trying to make is simple. Time off is important—it should be available to everyone, not just people who work 40 hours a week. It is important for people who want to spend it with their families, or for people who choose to have kids, and for people that enjoy commemorating holidays. But it’s also an important time to create, to think, and to do a different kind of work that is just as, if not more, important than the stuff you get paid to do. Even if people don’t seem to get the importance of it.

So when people ask me what I did over vacation my answer is pretty simple: I worked. And while often I get sad looks and assumptions about an unhappy life at home in return, I can’t really imagine spending my vacation in a more meaningful way.

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me that is ok.


The Freelance Writing Survival Kit

Dakota Sexton 

My friends don’t normally come to me for serious advice. Like, ever. I usually provide a brain trust of a million different, but equally bad, dating-related ideas. If my life were a romantic comedy, this would mean I don’t have it together and am otherwise a clueless or jaded best-friend/supporting character that will never find love unless fate pairs me up with someone who is equally hopeless and probably both wildly sweet and also somehow a really big lost cause.

But I digress. This is about writing advice.

When friends ask about that, I have different answers. And I hold onto different helpful writing-related tips and articles. Almost nothing beats Richard Morgan’s essay “Seven Years as a Freelance Writer, or, How to Make Vitamin Soup.” In it, Morgan describes how he pitched fancy magazines like Playboy and Details while still living with his parents in Apex, North Carolina. During the same decade, he also has to make vitamin soup, mostly by mashing up a multi-vitamin with a bunch of garlic salt in hot water. (Sexy!)

If you need more inspiration than that, there are tons of practical, online resources. Among the best: Ann Friedman’s #Real Talk From Your Editor column for the Columbia Journalism Review. MediaBistro publishes a weekly How to Pitch column that provides advice on pitching to a single publication, which also includes tips from the publication’s own assigning editors. Chris Guillebeau has been writing to his readers about freelancing and budget-friendly travel hacking tips for years as a blogger (and he writes totally affordable books on the same subjects as well). There are also ultra-cheap Skillshare courses on everything from Humor and Personal Essay writing to how to pen a 10-minute film short.

What’s missing for me? More articles that detail how exactly to pretend to be professional when you need to invoice a client, especially for hourly-paid freelance work. Or when you haven’t been paid. Or how to get an interview transcribed affordably while sleeping. There are tons of budget-friendly applications and services for all of this, though. Below is a list of just a few of my favorites.

For Organizing Tax Deductions

I’d guess that “butt-loads” is the correct term for how many expenses most freelance writers could write off. Except I don’t really know that many people who actually do it. There’s an awful lot of effort required. And what if you get audited? A service called Shoeboxed wants to let you have your cake and eat it too, though, by letting people scan or mail in receipts and other business-related documents. Shoeboxed then trades you an IRS-accepted image to use for each document, plus provides other selective benefits.

For Writing and Editing

Have you heard of a writing app called Scrivener? Supposedly, a bunch of fairly-reputable writers think that it’s pretty cool. I’ve also tried it. Instead of recommending it to any other gullible people, however, I’d like to create a drinking game. It will punish you whenever you can’t remember how to do something really basic, and the game will also punish you whenever you can’t find a tiny piece of research because it was hidden in a sea of panels and/or obnoxious different boxes.

You could blackout for half of the day doing this, or just try out Editorially or iA Writer. Both are dreamy, well-designed writing apps that focus on minimalism and typography. They format text using a web-friendly language (Markdown) that easily converts to HTML without the additional garbage code other applications (Microsoft Word, Pages, and even Google Docs) unintentionally create.

When you finish a draft with Editorially, you can also easily invite friends and editors to read, comment, and edit your work. And as a bonus, there’s version control options built into both programs to reassure even the most paranoid and/or obsessive writer.

For Invoicing and Time-Tracking

Do you need to be paid for an article or something else you did? As a joke, try signing a contract and just cross your fingers. Someone might know you need to be paid, because magic. But if that doesn’t work out, try using Harvest. It’s an online and app-based service that can track task-based time and also help you invoice clients—repeatedly, if necessary. After creating a project and, optionally, toggling task-based timers, Harvest can generate an invoice that's automatically populated with all the relevant info you need.

If your client/publisher doesn’t still rely on billing practices that probably once originated in some kind of dinosaur age (like the 70s, or possibly just whenever the publication was founded), Harvest also helps you to accept payments online using Stripe.

For Email Reminders

Getting ahold of editors is hard. We’re busy, we get really distracting stomachaches sometimes, and it’s just hard to make yourself remember to keep reminding us to get back to you in the first place. That’s where Boomerang for Gmail comes in. After installing it in Gmail, you can set up automatic email reminders for any outgoing email. If say, an editor doesn’t get back to you in a week, a “boomerang” will let you know.

On the flip-side, if you don’t have the time to answer an email, you can set up a boomerang to hide an email for a few days.

For Transcribing Audio

Until recently, I transcribed all my own audio interviews. Other editors I knew just assigned that work to our interns, but I was personally too embarrassed to do that. Now as a freelancer/unpaid-and-non-glamorous editor, getting an intern to do it is obviously no longer even an option. There are professional transcribing companies (notably Casting Words), but the cost is usually out of the question on freelance money. Yet there’s hope: Mechanical Turk, a service launched by Amazon about 5,000 (actually 9) years ago.

As a “Requester,” you can post an entire audio file online for one person to transcribe or upload 6-7 small segments of the same file for multiple Turkers to complete—using one set of instructions. Get more tips on maximizing the service here and here.

For Your Health

For the most part, I don’t try to use a lot of health-focused apps. But I do use f.lux, a free app that adjusts your screen’s brightness automatically based on info you provide on your current room lighting.

For General Productivity

I name-dropped an app called TeuxDeux more times than anything else last year. It does one thing: lets you keep an online to-do list of everything you’re supposed to do in a given day. If you don’t cross a task/priority out, or delete it (the app lets you do both), then it automatically rolls over to the next day. That’s it.

It’s simple, but it works.

And if you spend a lot of time on the internet (you must), just set all new windows in your browser to open to TeuxDeux’s task listing and you’ll be constantly reminded of what you’re supposed to be working on. Alternatively, you can also download the TeuxDeux iPhone app.

That’s all. You should now have all the tips you need to bother every gainfully-employed editor in America, or at least the ones that matter. (Kidding! Sort of.)  

Band Aid icon by Wilson Joseph from The Noun Project


Things thought and words wrought at Social/Brief: Blank Slate

Holly Harrison

A few weeks ago I posted a short piece from Beyond the Margins to the Paper Darts Twitter account—Being A Good Literary Citizen: A Manifesto. I shared it even though I, personally, didn't meet all the criteria. I know I participate in the literary community in a different way than most literary citizens—being on staff at a volunteer-run lit mag is kind of between the two camps of "insider" and "everyone else"—but the manifesto reinforced the creeping feeling I've had that I'm not doing enough, that I somehow need to rearrange my free time to be a better participant in the scene that's been so good to Paper Darts.

I didn't want to make "be a better literary citizen" a New Year's resolution, because fuck those things, but the first event I wanted to check out happened to fall in the resolution-keeping time frame: January 2. It was Rain Taxi's next reading in its Social/Brief series, Blank Slate. It also happened to be New Year's themed—a bunch of 20 second poetry readings, by hand-picked poets and during an open mic, inspired by wiping the slate clean and planning for things to come.

I could talk about the ideal time for a poetry reading (20 seconds might actually be it). I could also talk about how chill the event was (no pun intended) and how it got me fantasizing about the benefits of doing more frequent but more laid back events compared to infrequent literary spectacles. But because I'm currently more committed to publishing things that are timely than things that are well thought out and analyzed (thanks, Internet Age), here are my notes from the evening. (Words said into a mic in bold.

  1. I have a total of $6, which can only get me a soda from the cash bar. Y'know, that's fine.
  2. These white couches are kind of cool. Hah, what if I get my period?
  3. Oh my god, what if I get my period?
  4. This is the first art gallery I've checked in to on Foursquare in five months? I'm so uncultured.
  5. Someone I know! Thank god.
  6. Keep thinking of things to talk about, keep thinking of things to talk about, keep thinking of things to talk about, shit shit shit.
  7. I wonder what came first—the blank slate theme or securing an empty gallery for the event?
  8. You must caramelize your life.
  9. Turns out that granola bar was not a sufficient dinner.
  10. I thought that "many lunches" line was going to turn into a doge thing. Why am I so disappointed that it didn't?
  11. Why do I love doge so much?
  12. Gretchen Marquette wears really tall shoes.
  13. Turns out the second best thing that can happen to you is heartbreak.
  14. What we need to do is give up more.
  15. Wouldn't a skinny person be fine on just a granola bar for dinner? Are skinny people hungry all the time?
  16. Fuck me like fried potatoes.
  17. I hope I can find that poem online later, even though it was definitely short enough to memorize.
  18. Found it.
  19. This woman's using poetry voice, noooooooooo!
  20. Oh, the poem was funny. That's okay then.
  21. All resolutions are the same.
  22. Whatever you're doing right now is it.
  23. Venus DeMars' coffin purse is pretty on point.
  24. Don't be humble.
    Fuck yeah.
  25. Hey look, I didn't get my period. 

Let's just call it "smell ya later"

Well, it’s been a good run, dudes. As of January 2014, I am officially retiring from my beloved position as editorial director of Paper Darts.

I’ve been trying to write this blog for awhile now, and the words just aren’t coming easy so I’m going to keep it super brief.

The past three and a half years with Paper Darts have taught me more about publishing, myself, and the capacity for literary love in the Twin Cities than any paying job I could have possibly gotten right out of college. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the best and coolest authors in the world, and have seen more of my dreams come to life than feels fair. These have pretty much been some of the best years of my personal and professional life. But, ain’t nothing gonna last forever, baby, and a new year seems like as good a time as any to start a new chapter.

I’m leaving Paper Darts in the good hands of those who know it best and a hearty crop of new staff members who have brilliant, world-changing ideas. PD is going to continue to do fantastic things for the local literary community and beyond and while I won’t be there, I’ll still totally be there, you know?

Thanks to the Ladies of Paper Darts, to the local literary community, and to everyone I ever called in a favor to while working as editorial director—I totally owe you.