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A Sweet Fairy Tale


Once upon a time, three friends congregated in a Victorian house in a neighborhood called Victorian Village in 2007 Columbus, OH, with an idea of starting a literary magazine. Yes, a literary magazine, in a country with a glut of literary magazines. This is what people told them. This and eye rolls and sighs. But these three friends did not care. They did not believe you could apply the word “glut” to the reading and writing life. They believed what Ted Kooser said of poets:

"Considering the ways in which so many of us waste our time, what would be wrong with a world in which everybody were writing poems? After all, there’s a significant service to humanity in spending time doing no harm. While you’re writing your poem, there’s one less scoundrel in the world. And I’d like a world, wouldn’t you, in which people actually took time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m certain, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets. By writing poetry, even those poems that fail and fail miserably, we honor and affirm life. We say ‘We loved the earth but could not stay.’”  
These three friends would not be deterred. There could never be too much art in the world, never have too many writers trying hard to make sense of, communicate, breathe and exist via the word; never enough poems and essays and stories (though in the end, they decided they would not publish fiction--not because they did not like it, but because they wanted to explore the poetic elements in the essay and the essayistic elements of a poem). These three friends believed with their entirety that the written word contained power, that the written word could impart change. They knew with a grave understanding that the world they lived in was not a fairy tale world.

Outside was poverty, was homelessness, was violence, was, at times, a sense of chaos, tragedy and heartbreak. They knew tragedy and heartbreak. They also knew they had a responsibility as writers, and that responsibility was not just to write, but to promote the importance of the reading and writing life.           

This was their way of giving back. This was their way of being good literary citizens.

And so on an autumn day these three friends decided this was what they wanted to dedicate a portion of their lives to.

A literary magazine.

They already had a name, one created during winter storm a few months ago, a name that was perfectly appropriate.

"Sweet," one of them said.

"Sweet," the other one repeated.

"This is going to be sweet."

And so a magazine was born.

Where We Are Now

It's been ten years since that evening in Columbus, and those three friends--Katie Riegel, KC Wolfe, Ira Sukrungruang--still work and believe in power of Sweet. Our drive to publish what we believe is the best poetry and creative nonfiction out there continues. We have aged, like a George Clooney, like a Meryl Streep. We have evolved. But the core value of Sweet remains: the advocacy of the written arts, the love and devotion to the poem and essay.  

Our family has grown. We have a great many wonderful readers and editors who work tirelessly, who work without pay, who work because they believe in the same values we do.

And we have published to date twenty-eight issues, with over 150 poets, 80 or so essayists, 19 fan letters, and 13 graphic narratives.

And we have been fortunate to publish writers like Lee Martin, Brenda Miller, Barrie Jean Borich, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Oliver De la paz, Tim Seibles, Kelle Groom, Dinty W. Moore, Michael Martone, Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Laura McCollough, and great, great many others.

And we have published a 5-year retrospective of poetry, All of Us .

And we opened a second arm of Sweet in 2010: Sweet Publications, which publishes limited edition homemade chapbooks of poetry and creative nonfiction and then makes them available on e-readers. These books are little pieces of art. We have been fortunate to publish Amy Monticello's Close Quarters , Megan Gannon's The Witch's Index , Donna Steiner's Elements , R. Claire Stephens's Lady in Ink: a comics essay , and Brian Baumgart's Rules for Loving Right .

And now we are here.                

Where We Want To Be

Since its inception, Sweet has been a labor of love, like most independent literary magazines. It's the reason Sweet is not affiliated with any institution. Everything we do has been out of pocket, and we have come to the realization that to continue to do what we love, to expand, we need to do the very thing all three of us hate: ask for money.

This #GivingTuesday, won't you consider supporting Sweet?

The monies from this fundraiser will go towards the everyday operating expenses of the magazine, but also to start thinking about future initiatives:

            -publishing and promoting full-length poetry collections
            -paying authors
            -Best of anthologies
            -Sweet Abroad, independent creative writing workshops across the country and world
            -K-12, senior citizen, veteran creative writing workshops
            -monthly Sweet readings
            -book art classes

The more the world turns, the more Sweet wants to do more. The more the world crumbles, the more Sweet wants, in little ways, to piece it back together. Sweet believes so strongly that the word can heal and change and mend the fractures of this earth.

Sweet wants to make a difference in this literary life. And that difference involves a community. Involves a collective sense of camaraderie.  

We live in a culture where asking for help is seen as weakness. But our world, our lives, our maturation as human beings has been predicated on “one hand washing the other,” to quote from Thomas Lynch’s wonderful essay The Undertaking. Your donations, your support, will help Sweet continue to publish the written word and expand our reach.

In Rebecca Ellis’s poem, “Prayer ,” published in Sweet 1.2, Ellis writes: “...always this soft voice / inside urging / open, open.”

Sweet hears this voice. Hears many voices. Singing, We are here. All of Us.

Yours truly,

The Founding Editors
Ira Sukrungruang
Katie Riegel  
K.C. Wolfe


Deedra Wollert 
Tampa, FL

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