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About

Jam Tarts, a fresh literary magazine

The man of understanding can no more sit quiet and resigned while his country lets its literature decay, and lets good writing meet with contempt, than a good doctor could sit quiet and contented while some ignorant child was infecting itself with tuberculosis under the impression that is was merely eating jam tarts.
— Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading (1934)

About Jam Tarts

The inspiration for Jam Tarts Literary Magazine comes from this provocative sentence in Pound's classic primer, ABC of Reading

Rather than read this sentence as strict code for modern literature, however, I read it as a humorous challenge. 

If we look past Pound's poisoning of the well (with phrases like "the man of understanding" and "ignorant child"); and if we ignore his begging the question (that literature is indeed in a state of decay, while we let "good writing" meet with contempt); it's an interesting spectrum that Pound suggests, from tuberculosis to jam tarts. And the idea that one could mistake one for the other is, if you stop to think about it, quite funny.

At the same time, the challenge is a serious one--for anyone who takes literature seriously. In this universe Pound has outlined, what writing might qualify as a jam tart? And what writing can (or should) be categorized as tuberculosis? What would that even mean--would that be some novel containing ideas both contagious and dangerous? Dangerous to whom? And is this an either/or situation--writing is either jam tarts or tuberculosis, or is this a linear spectrum -- from good to bad, with cookies one one side and disease on the other; or is it a more complex field of various tastes, taking the good with the bad in complicated ways? If so, how do we chart that territory in-between "good" and "bad" writing, which is ever-expanding with all kinds, thanks to our current, digital renaissance? (And while we're asking serious questions about a funny sentence, is a jam tart really the pinnacle of taste? Or is it just a small metaphor for something tasty enough that one might enjoy and share with others?)

In essence, this is the aim of Jam Tarts, questioning tastes:  What's good writing, what's bad, how do we know? And how do we share what we know and talk about it with others, who may very well have different tastes?

Some say all taste is subjective, so why bother talking about it? We like what we like.

Of course this isn't wrong. Taste is subjective. But that's never stopped us from talking about it before--when it comes to food, film, and fashion, to take three general examples. Clearly subjectivity is not the whole story when it comes to writing, either; to say there's nothing useful or meaningful to learn from critical inquiry into our likes and dislikes is, well, lazy. It's this lazy attitude toward literature more than anything, I think, that Pound was railing against. After all, there are patterns of taste, both cultural and individual, that can be explored, when we get right down to it.

And so, with a sense of humor, a bit of wonder, and questions galore, Jam Tarts Literary Magazine joins in that long tradition of trying to comprehend what we find gross or banal, beautiful or sublime, and for how long and for what reasons. 

If this sounds like something you would like, too, then please join in, as together we stir up some interesting conversations and share some fresh works together.

 

 

 

Frederick Speers, Founding Editor and Publisher

Mikola De Roo, Fiction Editor

For more information on what Jam Tarts is all about, read an interview with the founding editor, at The Review Review.

Jam Tarts Literary Magazine publishes once a year, usually in the Summer, with additions and updates made in the Fall, Winter, and Spring. Content from issue to issue thus changes company in a variety of ways over the course of a full year. Submissions are read year round, across genres: poetry, fiction, essay, reviews, and interviews. And of course, if you like what you read here, please share and like us on Facebook and be sure to follow us on Twitter.