It isn't easy keeping a literary journal afloat, even after 13 years, 500 stories, and 15 Illinois Arts Council awards. But the editors of the local magazine Other Voices are struggling to keep at it, while remaining loyal to its founder's original mission. Writer and editor Dolores Weinberg started Other Voices in 1985 after having spent ten years at StoryQuarterly, another local publication, because she felt that diverse, interesting voices were being brushed aside. One of the first stories she published was by a writer named Lois Hauselman. Not long afterward, Weinberg invited Hauselman to join her staff. After Weinberg's death in 1990 from a brain tumor, Hauselman assumed her current position as the managing editor of Other Voices.
While some of the larger literary journals, such as TriQuarterly, eke out enough money from subscriptions, grants, and donations--never profits--to pay some of their staff, the editors at Other Voices work for free. Assistant editors Gina Frangello and Lisa Stolley are PhD candidates at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where the journal is now based. Aside from their editorial responsibilities and keeping up with their own writing and course work, they each teach several classes at the university.
Hauselman, Frangello, and Stolley wade through an average of 300 manuscripts per month, publishing Other Voices twice a year and including from 11 to 20 stories per issue. The magazine has about 1,500 subscribers. Writers receive a $20 honorarium and a copy of the magazine--more generous terms than most literary journals.
Other Voices, like all journals, employs (asks, really) first readers to evaluate submissions and pass on what they like. Recently they've expanded their pool in a bid to ensure that the magazine isn't limited to a particular, narrow aesthetic. "We've added new male readers," says Frangello; previously only 2 of their 20 readers were men. "Also, our readers are from very different backgrounds, with different life experiences. One is a real estate developer, one works in a flower shop in Seattle, and another works in a publishing house in Boston. One of our best readers is a trader at the Chicago Board Options Exchange.
"If we print the same type of story over and over, we might as well call the magazine 'Two or Three Other Voices,'" says Frangello. "Our first readers have wildly different opinions, just as we final editors do. We often don't agree, and we don't want to. It concerns me when we all have the same opinion of a story. We don't want a journal of consensus. That's not why Dolores started this."
A submission party and benefit for Other Voices will be held Wednesday at 7:30 at the Guild Complex at the Chopin Theater, 1543 W. Division. Writers are invited to submit and read from their manuscripts; those who wish to read should arrive early to sign up. Admission is $5; call 773-296-1108 for more. --Marina Lewis
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Gina Frangello, Lois Hauselman, Lisa Stoley photo by Jim Alexander Newberry.