The borough’s first literary journal in recent memory launched this month.
It all started a few years ago when Newtown Literary editor Tim Fredrick, an elementary school teacher from Long Island City, began looking around Queens for a writing group.
“I was having a difficult time,” said Fredrick. “Some stuff goes on in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but it’s hard get to and is often expensive. I’ve also heard from many people that they don’t feel like they fit in.”
So he took the matter into his own hands. Through Meetup, a website that pairs people with similar hobbies, he met many Queens-based writers.
These meetups bloomed into the 146-page journal showcasing poetry and prose by 26 writers — 45 pieces whittled down from 130 submissions. Some of the writers are veterans of the publishing industry, but for five contributors this will be the first time they have seen their works in a formalized compilation.
These newly published writers will be reading their works at the Newtown Literary launch party on Friday, Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. at the Waltz-Astoria on Ditmars Boulevard.
Many of the stories take place in Queens, such as Matthew Leib’s ode to the 7 train and Jeff Brandt’s short story titled “Queensboro Bridge.”
“It’s exciting to be a part of something like this — to help put Queens on the city’s literary map. There’s this misconception that all the city’s aspiringwriters and artists — andinteresting cultural experiences to be had— are in Brooklyn, and it’s simply not true,” Brandt said.
Brandt’s short story follows a man in his 20s, somewhat like himself, getting over a bad breakup and a drunken night, so in his depressive state he decides to walk across the Queensboro Bridge. Suspended above the water he stumbles into a situation that he imagined turning out differently. The work deals with the alienation of living in a big city in a sometimes sad and other times humorous way.
Brandt has been published in a couple online journals this year, but Newtown Literary will be his first print publication aside from a submission to University of Illinois’ undergrad literary magazine, his alma mater.
Maria Terrone, a veteran poet from Jackson Heights who participated in the Guggenheim’s neighborhood storytelling series Still Spotting last spring, will have three poems in the journal.
The trio reflects different aspects of life in the borough — “E.R.” takes place at Elmhurst Hospital, “The One Chosen: Civil Courthouse, Queens, NY” clearly takes root in the borough and “The Manicurists” depicts a scene in Terrone’s neighborhood nail salon.
“Queens has every bit the literary talent as Brooklyn or Manhattan, but needs more initiatives like Newtown Literary,” Terrone said.
Other pieces do not take place in Queens but blend together by covering the immigrant or working-class experience, or by offering “just a voice not typically heard,” Fredrick said.
A hard copy of the Newtown Literary can be bought for $10 or a digital copy for $8 at newtownliterary.org.