Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Flash Literature

I’m chasing an idea around these days and doing the endlessly negotiative work of defining a boundary for my thinking about what constitutes “new media” literature? (a growing lineup of so-far conclusions is listed on the sidebar at right.)

It was under the umbrella of that thinking that I followed The Narrator down a trail to the SmokeLong Quarterly, an online publication for “flash” literature. Flash literature is new to me, and I’m discovering that in this fast and faster paced world of digitality and demand, it provides a just-right sized “step away” – the brain-break I find myself so often needing between efforts to process next bits of literary theory. SmokeLong, celebrating two years of publication with their current issue, takes its name from the Chinese who note that it takes about the same amount of time to smoke a cigarette as to read a piece of flash literature. Flashquake, another online publication I found along the way – this one welcoming poetry and non-fiction “flash” as well as images, defines flash literature as works of 1000 words or less, but adds that shorter is better.

It is the “shorter is better” aspect of flash literature that captures attention in my effort to put a boundary around the idea of new media literature – the pieces and infinitively divisible sense of story/information, the bite-sized possibilities that prompt digestion on the move. It is this “on the move” that seems to underwrite the various layers of understanding I see developing for me as I work to get a handle on 21st century literature. “On the move” is exciting for me, and flash literature is a perfect fit! Follow the links provided in this post, give flash literature a try, and let me know what you think.

BTW… you can find “The Lenten Diaries,” fiction from The Narrator (Ira Socol), in volume eight of SmokeLong Quarterly online. It's a great read, Narrator! And great trip down the road … thanks for making the ride worthwhile.

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narrator said...

Wow. Thanks. Before my xanga-site became a "novel-in-progress" it was a microfiction playground. I figure I wrote about 300 pieces in 18 months. I love it for its position between prose and poetry. It is absolutely prose but you work every single word as a poet. I have a young friend (16) who specializes in staying under 50 words, which I'm no good at.

I love it as an art form in its own right, but I also think it is one of the best strategies for solving writing issues. Working short allows you to practice stuff that might seem very threatening if bigger, and really, isn't each paragraph, each chapter in a novel, really a "microfiction" or a "short story"?

and I loved being in Smokelong (of course, wonderfully, they found me through blogger). I'll need to try again soon. But the best part was their interview questions.

Brenda said...

Ah, you have found the narrator, he's one of my favourites, a brilliant writer, probably the best at the Xanga blogging community, and has become a personal friend...

I haven't explored the genre of flash fiction nearly enough, as I see from this post and the narrator's comment, prefering, I think, either the concise brevity of poetry or prose poetry, or the dive and underwater swim and laps and discovering of other continents of lengthier prose.

You've given me some leads, thank you. And now when are you going to try your hand at flash fiction? Blogs are great places to experiment...

Dave Clapper said...

Nifty! Was just doing a search through Technorati to see if anyone had mentioned SmokeLong recently and came across this post. Really pleased you liked the magazine, and I agree whole-heartedly with the assessment of Ira's (Narrator's) piece. Terrific stuff.