Unquiet (Word) Riot: Talking Travel Grants and Small Presses With Jackie Corley


Posted by Tobias Carroll

A few weeks ago, Word Riot, the longstanding literary journal and indie press, announced the formation of a related nonprofit. (Disclosure: I’ve contributed fiction and reviews to the journal in the past.) The nonprofit — Word Riot Inc. — will offer travel grants for writers associated with small presses, as well as the Paula Anderson Book Award, given to a small press title that “increased awareness of or otherwise drawn attention to the small press community because of the merit of the work.” I spoke with Word Riot’s Jackie Corley for an update on the current status of all things Word Riot.

What prompted the idea for the nonprofit?
Word Riot is rapidly approaching its 10-year anniversary and I wanted to step up my game and do a little bit more to support the indie lit community, which has been rapidly growing, especially in recent years. The idea behind the nonprofit is to provide opportunities and financial support for the typical small press or online lit mag writer. This is usually someone who has a day job, obligations to family and friends, and a million other balls being juggled in the air, but who makes art a priority in their life and works to advance the place of poetry and literary fiction in the world today. We want to acknowledge these writers and encourage their work.

How do you see writers using the grants that Word Riot will be issuing — for small book tours, event appearances, and the like?
The travel grants are meant to offset the costs of small press book tours and to also make it possible for writers to travel to another city to participate in a reading or literary festival. We want to make it a little easier for small press writers to continue to do what they’ve already been doing–getting their words out their in the world.

Will the destination matter for grant applicants? I’m thinking back to Stephen Elliott’s essay about the part of his Adderall Diaries book tour that found him reading in people’s houses
We’ll give special consideration for authors who travel to rural or inner city locations that are typically underserved when it comes to arts opportunities. Other than that, as long as you’re presenting your work in a forum of some kind, it doesn’t matter if it’s in a house, a boat or a barn.

Organizationally speaking, are the journal and press still distinct from the nonprofit, or does the nonprofit encompass both as well as the travel grants and the book award?
Word Riot Press LLC, which includes the press and the magazine, and Word Riot Inc. are distinct companies. The nonprofit will sponsor the travel grants and book award. There’s going to be a publishing element to Word Riot Inc. In the near term, we’re going to be looking resurrect small press books that died after the first print run, because the publisher went under or for whatever reason. (The previous publisher will need to give his or her blessing and release rights to the title.)

I know that there’s an anthology of work from Word Riot contributors forthcoming; anything else on the horizon from the press side of WR?
We’re putting out a short story collection by a previous Word Riot Press author in 2012, but I’m holding off release the name for a couple months until we select a partner book to be published at the same time. I like releasing two books at once, usually a pair that are decidedly different, yet complement one another. It makes planning book tours a little easier, as well.