Everyday Genius Guest Editors Say Farewell!
Since 2009, the online literary journal, Everyday Genius, published nearly 1500 writers. Its editor, Adam Robinson, announced its end late last week, February 5, 2015. Beyond the singular achievement of publishing a new piece every weekday, the journal stands out for its many wonderful guest editors: 45 people took the reins for a month (sometimes twice) over the course of almost five years. In his farewell, Adam writes, “A very special thanks to the guest editors who came up with unique ideas and filled the days with groundbreaking work.” Here, many of the guest editors take the opportunity to say thanks right back.
First, we’ll hear from Michael Kimball and Joseph Young, who were around when it all started. Then we’ll hear from an array of guest editors from over the years, who have each picked a particularly memorable piece from their month.
Adam Robinson and I were out, as we were so often back when he lived in Baltimore. We were out at the Owl Bar, which wasn’t one of our usual choices, but we had been at a bad reading at the University of Baltimore earlier that evening. We sat on stools on the far left end of a really beautiful and really long oak bar. I don’t remember what we were drinking or what we ate, but I do remember that Adam didn’t finish his food. Back then, he was so intent on making Publishing Genius great he often didn’t have the time for food.
Besides talking about the bad reading we had just witnessed, the basketball game on the television above us, and politely letting two tipsy women know that we didn’t want to talk with them, we talked about how he could expand Publishing Genius. This was before everybody knew how great Adam is (only some of us knew back then), and he wanted to publish more books, but he needed to sell more books to do that. We talked about ways to bring people to the PG website, and I told him that I loved Chapbook Genius but that it needed to have new content more frequently. Of course, it wasn’t really feasible to publish a new chapbook every week, so one of us suggested a lit mag (I think it was me, but Adam probably thinks it was him). Regardless, Adam liked the idea and we kicked around ideas for a name, all of which I have forgotten because none of them were very good. Then, the next day, Adam called and said, Everyday Genius. That was it. That’s why Everyday Genius was so great for as long as it existed.
If genius comes a few times a year, most of us feel lucky. Even getting our very best is uncommon. The idea of everyday genius—brilliance daily—is unserious, even frivolous.
Adam is a serious guy. He thinks a lot about many things, all the time, obsessively. In other words, Adam worries. He worries over the books he makes, from conception to editing to promotion to shipping. Sit next to Adam as he types into his laptop and works his publishing empire and you hear a good deal of heavy sighing. The devil’s in the details, and Adam is clearly deviled.
And yet, here is a conversation I’ve had with Adam any number of times:
Adam: I don’t know why I’m publishing this book.
Joe: Oh. Is it good?
Adam: I don’t know. I don’t understand it.
Adam is a frivolous man. He makes decisions—like what books he’ll publish and why—by the seat of his pants. He makes publishing decisions like some of us jump into cold water. Well, here we go!
Of course, some of us dive like clods, and some of us like seraphs. Adam plunging off a cliff is some kind of brilliance. The proof, we all know, is in the published pudding.
I’ve always thought that Everyday Genius was the least serious arm of the Publishing Genius octopus. Something done on the side, and to what effect I’m not sure. More poems and tortured prose for the world to misunderstand?
Yet Adam, and his editors, persisted. Every day. Every day it was another Here we go!, our arms and legs and bodies headed for water. He saw something in it, some frivolous and wonderful shining, and so of course did we.
I think I asked Adam if I could guest edit an issue of Publishing Genius (why hadn’t he asked me himself?! I thought we were friends?!) Anyhow, he was kind enough to say yes. I solicited a lot of these pieces and was shocked by how talented my friends are–I know such talented people!—so it’s difficult to choose just one. I suppose I like this piece best because it’s about me. More boys should write poems about me, even if I look like an asshole.
South 55 by Daniel Crocker
Laura Ellen Scott:
Adam picking me to submit and later to edit was a huge moment in my writing career.
My fondest memory from guest editing Everyday Genius (October 2012) is of the wonderful slush pile and all the new-to-me writers that I started reading as a result. I solicited a few pieces for the issue, but there were so many beautiful submissions waiting from writers that I already knew and loved and writers that I read for the first time and have been following ever since, including Sarah Tourjee, Hai-Dang Phan, Jessica Comola, and Kristin Sanders (whose re-visioned 90s country songs certainly still dazzle).
I know this is cliche, but to hell with the month I edited–I owe everything to Everyday Genius. Everyday Genius was my first ever real life publication. I ended up having six things published there since 2010. I’ve discovered amazing people from there, like Amy Lawless and Sandra Simonds and Gabby Bess, and the month I hosted last year led me to meet great great people like Lucian Mattison and JoAnna Novak and Colleen Louise Barry. Adam has been thinking 10 steps ahead of all of us for well over 10 years now, and I’m excited that he can spend all the time he spent formatting blog posts on something that no one else has even thought of yet. I can’t thank Adam enough. I can’t thank Adam enough. I can’t thank Adam enough.
Guest-editing Everyday Genius was so fun. A real hodgepodge from lots of great brains. I can’t think of a better opportunity than presenting everything you like through the work of others. Adam is Adam, so I knew that he would investigate each piece, its singular characteristics, the way it fit, why I picked it. What a special experience, to gaze upon a collection of beautiful things together. Thanks Adam. I can’t pick favorites because my month was all over the place but I loved the combination of humor and concept.
Editing Everyday Genius allowed me the opportunity to create Shabby Doll House in reverse, which was something I had been wanting to try for a long time but couldn’t figured out how to execute. Does that even make sense? I solicited 22 visual artists for original work and then I sent their pieces to 22 writers, asking them to produce accompanying texts. I learned so much by doing this, partly because it was just a totally different editorial experience to the one I had become accustomed to, and partly because collaborating with so many different people on such a tight time-scale was a very steep learning curve.
Something I found really cool was that a lot of the writers who really struggled with their pieces for this project ended up producing the most pleasing results, after many, many frantic email exchanges.
It was stressful at times, but in a very fun way. I’m so grateful to have had the chance to guest edit.
There were so many pieces that excited me during my month. But this poem by Mike Bushnell always stays in my mind.
In 2013, I met a lot of artists. I wanted those people to meet. When I asked Adam if I could edit a month, he said yes. Christian Peete woke from his chthonic slumber in “Kabbalnacht.” Lara Durback transmitted electrical impulses from Oakland. Pottery from coastlines converted to military installations. The Bachelor. EDG was always ahead of the curve in accommodating whatever media text was traveling in, and I was excited to not ask people for a poem or story but whatever thing they were up to. Thank you, Adam, for giving me the chance to do that. I hope you’ll take your first last stroll through EDG January 2014 because there is no internet archive at the end of the universe.
Michael J. Seidlinger:
Man, Everyday Genius, what a project. Adam created something special with the site. From the guest editors to the ambitious inclusion of daily content, it was one of the best venues in the indie lit community, truly a venerable brand name amongst sometimes way too many literary sites competing for a person’s time. I curated a month of excerpts from works-in-progress from authors. Lots of work but it was one hell of a fun time seeing what fellow writers are up to. One in particular, that caught my eye, was Cari Luna’s excerpt from her novel, “What Have You Lost?” but then again I can’t choose just one. As curator, they all wowed me. Every single one. Five years, damn Adam. File this one away as a real landmark achievement.
It was a real thrill to get to guest-edit Everyday Genius. I felt flattered to have been asked to do so in the first place, and I knew immediately what I wanted to do: cast a net out into a direct and personal network of women and queer authors for an eclectic range of content. The resulting collection made me very proud, and it made me sort of fall in love all over again with the way the internet serves to connect us. I can’t thank Adam enough for trusting me with the reins.
It’s impossible to pick for me to a favorite piece, and I don’t have to because the audience selected for me. I’ve known Daphne Gardner for several years now, and long admired her art, so it was nice to see her comic get the most attention.
Where else would I be allowed to do something as cool as this? Invite Amelia Gray to write about endless decapitations? Everyday Genius is just that. Genius, every day.
Sarah Jean Alexander
Everyday Genius was one of my first editing experiences, and (I think?!) the first time videos were used as content on the site. I remember feeling like I had to try hard to impress Adam, because I wanted to be good, because he trusted me, and well, because Adam deserves really really good work. Thank g-d for Adam Robinson, right?!
This was my favorite video from the month I edited, May 2013:
poem (after everything) from John Mortara
And here is another John Mortara poem from a month we picked from submissions. I always try to read this out loud and I was cry for some reason.
Chloé Cooper Jones
After I finished editing my month of Everyday Genius, Adam asked if he could give me anything as a thank-you. I asked for a copy of his book, Adam Robison and Other Poems. He happened to have one copy on him at the time. It was the copy he used when he did readings. It had multi-colored tabs marking pages and his marginalia in pencil. He immediately gave it to me. I’m not sure if he cared at all to hand over what seemed such a personal object, but, to me, it was extraordinarily generous. The book remains one of my prized possessions.
This is one of my favorite stories from the month I edited: “A List of What I’ll Write About, Compiled Earlier This Morning” by Agatha French
When one of my lit heroes invited me to guest edit his groundbreaking journal, I was thrilled, but nervous. What if his readers hated my selections? But Adam’s encouragement was very inspiring, and people responded favorably to my posts.
These two lines from Michael Kimball’s powerful piece “The Wrong Family” capture what I love about his work – his sense of acoustics and spare, meticulously composed sentences that are deceptively simple yet convey great emotional depth without sentimentality: “I never felt like I was born into the right family. Sometimes, when my parents were at work, I would look for evidence that I had been adopted.”
Thank you, Adam, for giving me the space, every day for a month, to recognize the tremendously talented, yes genius! poets who are all around me and sharing their genius with the world.
Tim Early’s poem
John Dermot Woods:
Adam Robinson makes editing fun! He’s never about the easy way. When we did a month of comics, we decided to gather a bunch of artists who most people didn’t think of as cartoonists, half of whom had never drawn a comic before. Both Real Pants staff cartoonists appeared that month:
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