â€œGuernica is an award-winning magazine of art and ideas. In its short time online, it has grown from one of the webâ€™s best-kept secrets to one of its most acclaimed new magazines.â€
01 Guernica: Launched in 2004 by New York-based writers Joel Whitney and Michael Archer, Guernica is an online journal of original creative and non-fiction work. Material is published on a fortnightly basis with a weighting towards the journalistic side. Many interviews discuss loosely political themes with novelists, as well as poets, filmmakers and others, whilst features generally investigate a wider pool of opinions and ideas. Guernica also publishes new poetry, short stories and slideshows of art (mainly photography). Their blog features a range of more politically focused commentators.
02 A magazine of art and politics: As the allusion to Picassoâ€™s iconic painting implies, Guernicaâ€™s stated aim is to explore â€œthe crossroads between art and politicsâ€. This is an interesting fault line, which the site more or less traces. Sometimes this is explicit: Jamal Mahjoubâ€™s recent interview with Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif, for example, spoke of Januaryâ€™s uprising and Poulomi Basuâ€™s photographs follow Indiaâ€™s first women soldiers. Often, though, the crossover is implicit, connecting liberal politics with an artistic sensibility.
03 Features and style: Long-form journalism is complemented by much briefer poems and short stories (including a recent experiment with flash fiction). American writing is frequently punctuated with new pieces from around the world and sporadic translations. Although opinions are drawn from across the United States, there is a hardcore Brooklyn writers and, although Guernica has an international perspective, it remains something of a New York project. Likewise, many contributors share a background in MFAs and teaching creative writing, giving the site a unique voice. The visual material is generally more global.
04 Behind the scenes: Something of Guernicaâ€™s philosophy carries over into its masthead. Having been incorporated as a no-for-profit two years ago, it is a collective effort relying on the goodwill of smart and engaged contributors. The 30-plus editors, broadly journalists and teachers, are all involved with a large collection of other publications and projects. Former Spike contributor Nancy Rawlinson is a contributing editor.
05 Features and interviews: The site has interviewed an impressive roster over its six year existence, including John Updike, Don DeLillo, Juot DÃaz, and Arundhati Roy. The schedule usually includes two new features and two new interviews every fortnight. Recent highlights have been David Morrisâ€™ article â€˜Public Disinterestâ€™ and Meaghan Winterâ€™s interview with Dean Spade. The former is a history of how vital channels of public information (the US postal service and broadcast airwaves) have been hijacked and the implications for the future of the internet, whilst the latter profiles Americaâ€™s first openly transgendered law professor on an eye-opening range of issues.
06 Creative content: Whilst Guernicaâ€™s poetry, short stories and visual arts each get, on average, only one post each per fortnight, they have garnered a numbered of awards. 2009 was a particularly good year with E.C. Osonduâ€™s story â€˜Waitingâ€™ winning the Caine Prize and Matthew Derbyâ€™s â€˜January in Decemberâ€™ got a Dzanc Books Best of the Web award. Both were published in 2008. Recent highlights have included Melissa Ann Chadburnâ€™s â€˜Loose Moralsâ€™, with it immortal opening line â€œDid you know that more people jack off than pick their nose while driving?â€ and Albert Abonadoâ€™s poem â€˜Snake Storyâ€™. Birthe Pionekâ€™s photographs of life in Canadaâ€™s Yukon (â€˜The Idea of Northâ€™) have a View-Master depth and tone, the portraits look away from the lens, lost in thought.
07 Support: The not-for-profit philosophy of Guernica is reflected in its calls for support. The homepage is bordered with large advertising placeholders, suggesting different ways for readers to join the community. In addition to donations and subscriptions, there is a rather hopeful shop offering t-shirts, stickers, mugs and magnets. Guernica also offers a tiered membership scheme ranging from a $25pa Friend to a $1000pa Sustainer. The latter receives a quarterly newsletter, a messenger bag, various tickets to Guernica events, and a name on the website. The organisation frequently advertises for interns to help develop the platform.
08 Blog and opinions: Guernicaâ€™s blog offers near-daily material, often co-hosted on other blogs. More overtly political, these posts can offer a leftist defence of American liberal values, as demonstrated by Robert Reichâ€™s writing on domestic policies. Reich served under Clinton and is now a Professor of Public Policy at Berkeley and much of his Guernica material focuses on the economy. The blog also has a global dimension, exemplified by Robin Yassin-Kassabâ€™s posts on the Middle East. But there is also room for arts coverage on the blog, a recent highlight being Erica Wrightâ€™s promotion of the term â€˜dude-litâ€™: â€œIt speaks to a debate Iâ€™ve simply had one too many times about great novels in which Thomas Hardy and James Joyce win out over BrontÃ« and Virginia Woolf every time. And by â€˜win outâ€™, I mean the dude Iâ€™m talking to speaks louder and more forciblyâ€.