Upcoming Events

  • February 25 - Assignment #2 (6" x6") deadline
  • February 25 - Assignment #3 (The Truth) deadline

Thursday, January 8

The New

Well, here we are at the beginning of Calvin's 2009 Interim. I am heading out tomorrow morning to spend a few weeks in the New England vicinity, and so Miranda will be heading up the newest big venture of Dialogue, Inc. This venture is a three-fold arts-and-literary mêlée to be released as a mini-series of triplet mini-issues. Each mini-issue will be filled with responses to an assignment, which are as follows:

Assignment #1 - Coloring Book and Activity Guide: What better time for something fun than interim? Take a few hours of free time, maybe with a friend or two, and come up with something that can lead others into merrymaking, recreation, leisure, or other forms of jollification. Try something conventional, like a picture for others to color (whether with crayons or something thoroughly more weird), or go completely off the map with instructions or suggestions for some crazy activity (preferably one that will not result in death, arrest, or expulsion from Calvin College). Homemade word finds or sudoku or mad libs, geocaches, rules for a card or ball game. Spark spark spark.

Assignment #2 - 6" x 6": This constraints here are purely spatial. Whatever you can fit into a six-inch by six-inch square qualifies. If you don't fill the space, think creatively about what it means to have negative space, a margin, a blank, etc. in your work.

Assignment #3 - The Truth: Think photographs and non-fiction, only expanded. What is supposed to be true these days, and how is this represented? What about facts? What are some facts? what are some types of facts? There is room here for all sorts of conventionally non-artistic or un-literary material. Charts, graphs, syllogisms, statistical models, formulas and equations. What does the truth have to do with form, style, context, and with presentation? How are you going to convince us editors and our readers that something is true?

Thursday, October 23

a post

i think you can do these things right or wrong, well or poorly.
it feels as if it is all i do some days and that freedom is squashed under "shoulds"
but why then do we do these things?

for sure monotony can be depressing, making everything seem mundane. and it is a struggle to climb out of this everyday on little sleep, in poor health, and the like. dialogue is an attempt at that.
and i see creativity in dialogue, movement, change. something to be welcomed warmly.
something to whet your appetite, as we shall soon see.

thank you to the books

Thursday, September 25

Post-review meeting musings

This upcoming issue is the "all-inclusive" issue, so the only review necessary was the barest level of oversight to make sure nothing obviously unacceptable got in, but without the usual roundtable discussion to select the best pieces. The strange thing is that if anything the proportion of high-quality pieces was higher than usual; on the other hand, there were no pieces I was merely ambivalent about. I suspect that the people who submit the merely mediocre but not quite dismal pieces to other issues decided that getting something into this issue wouldn't be worth it, since there were only a couple of dozen written submissions this time in contrast to the usual flood of around sixty.

Had this not been a special issue without quality control, if the past two years are any guide, I would have had a hard time getting the rest of the staff to see things my way anyway. I don't have any fixed rules by which I decide which pieces I think should get in, but rather I take a more Bayesian approach. If I don't want to read something again (though I do read most submissions several times), I generally vote "no." If I don't much care, I vote "maybe," and if I want to read it many times in the years to come, I vote "yes." I also vote "yes" for my own work, because abstentions count as Nos in the voting process. (I'll discuss the voting system below.) Some factors that often combine to warrant a No vote in my mind include unmitigated dark themes or imagery, unnecessary verbosity, or unwarranted violations of literary norms. That last point includes what I call the "random-newline school of poetry," wherein the alleged poet writes prose (usually not very good prose) and randomly adds line breaks, but also includes avoidance of standard punctuation or capitalization. (Not that these effects are always inappropriate; when they were first used they were perhaps even necessary. But they've since become a substitute for worthwhile substance instead of a mark of it as they were at the beginning of the century.) There are two quotations that illustrate my point, but one of them is from a book that's not to hand, so I'll paraphrase it. That one is from A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer (strongly recommended, by the way), and says something to the effect that one must know the rules (and, I would argue, generally follow them) for one's not keeping them to mean anything. The second is from the email signature of someone on a mailing list on which I lurk. It's attributed to Barry Malzberg (never heard of him), and in part says: "Only the rigor and discipline of the delimited can create art. Musicologists considering Bach, who worked within desperately restrictive format, will concur as will those considering the sonata form. The sonnet and the eight-bar chorus of almost all popular song and operetta give similar testimony." Someone suspending grammar, flow, spelling, etc., must both have something overwhelmingly worthwhile to say and obviously know what he or she is doing.

In past years, the review meetings have used a simple voting system to select the small pool of literary pieces to discuss. Votes of Maybe are one point and Yes votes are two, while a No is none. I've argued strenuously for a more nuanced system, like the nine-point scale, with defined meanings for the numbers, used to grade the essays on the AP tests, as well as for a longer discussion cycle to enable the real consensus of the sort the College Board requires of its graders--no two votes may be more than two apart on the final ballot, with the middle score of the three-point range becoming the final grade.) Somehow, it seems like I always end up on the opposite side from the majority on nearly every vote, and my own work is always misunderstood. But that's life.

Friday, September 12


some of us will never be as clever as ryan.
"Dia(b)logue" alone would have taken me years to come up with.

Thursday, September 11

Dear Diary,

Yesterday I sat at the Dialogue table at Cokes and Clubs. We had trail mix, zines and collaborative art that happened (on top of the e-mail sign up list that developed.)

It was a pretty good time.

My favorite part was people's reactions when I told them that the first Issue is going to all-inclusive. My favorite response was a girl who asked if a submission could have swearing in it. I guess this is the beginning of what we're going to have to do for the first issue (being sponsored by Calvin College with their discernment policies and such.) There is a fine line to play between doing what we or the submitters want and offending someone. (Maybe we could use ***'s to help us, eg. What the f*** did we just get ourselves into!!!)

Today we put up the posters to advertise the deadline for the first issue at our first staff meeting. (Thank you all of you who came!)

Our flow chart of everything is coming along nicely (if anyone wants to stop by, you are welcome to add to it.)


Thursday, August 7

Warm and Welcome

We here at Dialogue, INC. are proud to welcome you to our new corporate headquarters. Help yourself to our sleek, high-speed elevators and be sure to check out the view from the 57th floor--it will take your breath away.

Actually, aside from this bloggy new home on the interweb, our real-life command central has been relocated to the deep, dark basement of the Commons Annex. We are now the cute but ferociously hungry pets of the Student Development Office and the Service-Learning Center. Our new digs are a bit smaller, complete with paaúca (that's Hindi for 5, I think) cubicles, but we are making do with music and non-fluorescent lighting, new home-made shelves, and of course, our mini-fridge. Stop on by sometime and say hello to us.

Ahem! Getting down to business already--Miranda and I have been talking with each other (and with our new advisor--of Calvin bookstore fame--Justin Lawrence). We have been trying to figure out details and develop amazing new stratagems for our year-long stint as co-editors. In fact, just this morning Miranda and I had an official breakfast/business meeting at Marie Catrib's and, let me tell you, the schemes we concocted were as fresh and spicy as the food on our plates! Here's just a taste of what we've been thinking about:

- weekly meetings
- themed monthly zines
- the Dialogue Archives
- paper airplane posters
- a show at the 106 Gallery
- a Dialogue cookbook!

Cokes and Clubs is coming up soon--on the first day of classes, I believe. I think we're going to make a zine and some posters right then and there, and do it picnic-style.

Well, don't just stand there with your hand in your pockets. You got some bright ideas to contribute, or what?

Dialogue CD - 2008

I just added this past year's CD to the Dialogue Archives (see link above, please). Now you can remind yourself of Miranda's beautiful cover art or, if you've lost your copy already, download all of the tracks. Check it out right here.

Also, there are some truly nice selections scattered across the past 8 years' releases--you should probably check those out while you're at it. (oh! insider recommendations: Egyptian Heat - Flowin' With The Arabic Beat [2007], Juan Garcia - Untruths [2002]).

But really, if you did lose your copy of last year's CD and desperately want a new one, there is a second option: if you order your textbooks for the upcoming semester via Textbook Reservations, you'll likely get a free copy (hey, we had to find some way to disperse the hundreds of leftover discs).

Stay tuned for more life-changing updates. Maybe eventually we'll put up an official introductory post, something to welcome you to our little site and to shake hands with the whole world (wide web) at once...