From the Special Science & Fiction Issue Editors

Let’s face it: Science fiction gets a bad rap. Just utter the words and people’s eyes glaze over as they imagine literature built on formulaic plot twists, over-explanatory dialogue, and two-dimensional character archetypes piloting space shuttles to distant galaxies. As “serious writers,” we’re meant to avoid sci-fi like it was radioactive. We shouldn’t read it, we shouldn’t like it, and we sure as shit shouldn’t write it. Science fiction is the enemy of what gets called literature.

Yet the pages of even the fanciest and most serious literary magazines are often filled with characters and situations outside the realm of the possible. Celebrated writers like Kurt Vonnegut, George Saunders, Martin Amis, Lydia Davis, and Aimee Bender have all dipped their toes into the rising waters of the science-fiction landscape or gone full-on skinny-dipping. We like to call their work by other names, to separate it from the dimly-lit corners of bookstores where we keep the “genre” books. We call them “fabulist,” “magical realist,” “surrealist”—anything, ANYTHING, but “science fiction.”

What you’ll find in this special issue of PANK is the most compelling evidence we have ever seen for a revision of our thinking. We need to resurrect this genre, putting it in its rightful place as a kind of literature that expands our imaginations, gives us the sharpest social critiques, transports us to other times and worlds, opens our eyes, and breaks our hearts.

These stories and poems are the only proof we need that the genre is alive and well. Important stories don’t just happen in kitchens, in offices, in Buicks, in small American towns, in New York City. They also happen in laboratories, in other worlds, in the future, in parallel societies, in realities we do not recognize as our own but that can also hit us where (and when) we live.

The pieces in this issue do not need to be renamed or hidden or shelved far away from the other books. They deserve to be read, enjoyed, shared and contemplated. Let them charm you with their strangeness. Let their language hypnotize you. Let them show you what the mysteries of science can tell you about your own reality. Love them.

-Aubrey Hirsch & Devan Goldstein

You can get started with this amazing issue, here.

New E-edition of Sound of One Fork

Originally published in 1981 by Night Heron Press, The Sound of One Fork was Minnie Bruce Pratt’s first poetry chapbook. The Sound of One Fork represents a vibrant part of the history of lesbian print culture. In the new electronic edition, The Sound of One Fork is available again to all readers with an internet connection.

In the new foreword, Pratt writes, “In 1981 The Sound of One Fork was my first attempt as a poet to say who I was and where I was, precisely, in the great liberation struggles of my time.”

Reading The Sound of One Fork today with Pratt’s new foreword and editorial notes by Julie R. Enszer, the connections between Pratt’s earlier published work and her most recent work are evident. The new edition of The Sound of One Fork demonstrates the interconnected political movements of the past thirty years in powerful and meaningful ways. As Pratt writes, “In 2011 the link between there and here is traceable in me, in my poetry—and, more importantly, in the continuing world-wide movements against oppression and class exploitation.”

Readers are invited to download and share The Sound of One Fork at the Lesbian Poetry Archive, Click on ebooks or direct your browser to


Minnie Bruce Pratt has published seven books of poetry, including The Sound of One Fork, We Say We Love Each Other, Crime Against Nature, Walking Back Up Depot Street,The Money Machine, and The Dirt She Ate: Selected and New Poems. Her most recent collection of poetry is Inside the Money Machine (Carolina Wren Press, 2010). Pratt received a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Fellowship in Poetry from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. After 30 years of adjunct teaching and several stints of standing on the unemployment line, she is at present Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies and Writing & Rhetoric at Syracuse University, where she also serves as faculty for a developing Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/ Transgender Studies Program. Her complete biography here:

The ebook series at the Lesbian Poetry Archive publishes electronic edition of out of print books and chapbooks by lesbian authors. All ebooks are .pdf files and available for download. They are also rendered at the Lesbian Poetry Archive.

The Lesbian Poetry Archive is a digital archive of lesbian print culture. With extensive bibliographies, selections from germinal lesbian poetry texts, and other lesbian print ephemera, the Lesbian Poetry Archives is a resource for scholars, poets, and general readers.

Julie R. Enszer, the curator of the Lesbian Poetry Archives, is a poet and scholar.

Deliberations Have Been Made! Winners Have Been Chosen!

This year’s contest was particularly competitive and the decisions were, truly, a challenge, particularly in narrowing the field. Our first shortlist had about 25 pieces so creating a list of 10 required the removal of some vital organs.

Our winner this year is Tyler Gobble whose story, “To Toss Is To Life,” really impressed all of us who read the work.

About the winning story, Michael Martone said, “I liked how the story meandered, how it sortied randomly on all levels. It made me guess the next word, sentence, spot on the page. It was trashed and trashy and about trash–the leading edge of the junk phenomenon as Donald Barthelme would say–about the trajectory of radio-active half lives decaying before our eyes.”

In second place, Martone chose Erin Fitzgerald’s “No One Cares About Your Problems,” and in third place, “A List of My Shortcomings,” by Naomi Day.

Runners Up:

The Showrunner, Joshua Dalton
The Tragedy of Tragic Men, Tania Hershman
What Hangs Up, Must Come Down, Samantha LaBlue
Life on the Dead Tree, Jennifer Pieroni
The Sex of the Stars, Audra Puchalski
The Mothers, Amy Schleunes
Epitaphs 17 & 33, Matthew Vollmer

Congratulations to all our winners and runners up!

We’ll be having a new contest next year with a new judge so stay tuned and thanks to everyone who entered for making this such a great year for our 1,001 Awesome Words Contest.

We Will Always Be Queer

Today, we debut our second queer issue. We loved last year’s queer issue, the richness and depth of the writing, and there was no question we would publish another (and another and another and another).

I continue to think about this question of why. Why focus on one group of writing or writers for an entire issue? When I’m asked that question, what I really want to say is why isn’t everyone publishing queer issues? We will be committed to a queer issue until people stop asking the question why, until queer writers are well represented in the literary world, until, until, until.

There are a lot of ways to think about an editor’s responsibility. We have a responsibility to great writing, and to staying true to our aesthetic, but we hide behind those responsibilities, particularly when we want to avoid difficult questions about representation. There are problems in publishing. We can point to exceptions. We can point to positive signs, but fundamentally there are real issues of absence when it comes to the presence of underrepresented populations within the pages of most magazines. It’s hard to say why men submit more than women and with more persistence or why writers of color don’t submit as often or why queer writers hesitate to send their work to some magazines. It’s hard to say why editors need to be told they have a responsibility to address imbalance when it comes to race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, and all the other things that force us into categories. There are no easy answers.

But it’s too easy to simply say, “Those writers don’t submit to us.” Good writing is about words arranged in certain ways to achieve certain effects. The nature of good writing is certainly subjective. In addition to publishing good writing, we as editors need to think about good editing—making sure we’re not publishing only one kind of writer or prioritizing only one kind of voice. Sometimes that means going out and looking for the diversity we want in our magazine and calling it by name. Maybe there’s a reason some writers hesitate to submit. Maybe we can do something about that reason. This is not to say a magazine should be everything to everyone. That’s not possible. But we can always do better when it comes to ensuring that a diverse range of voices are represented. We can make the effort to reach out. Good writing—who the hell knows what that it is—but surely good editing starts by showcasing the work of writers with different cultural experiences.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Sometimes, people need to be told they are welcome. The number of writers who have self-identified as queer and/or submitted queer work since we published our first queer issue has increased significantly. There’s a little or a lot of queer in almost every issue we publish now. That would not have happened had we not decided, last year, to run an all queer issue. There are other areas where we need to work harder and we’re trying. We know that and we’re going to keep on reaching out. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this second queer issue.

In this issue, you will find writing and art from Michael Graves, Jackie Wang, Nicholas Wong, Colin Winnette, Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal, Thomas Kearnes, Paulus Kapetyn, Antonia Crane, Jai Arun Ravine, David Trinidad, Kevin Simmonds, JR Ramakrishnan, Tommy Pico, Julia K. Patt, Daniela Olszewska, Megan Milks, Joshua R. Helms, j/j hastain, Casey Hannan, R. W. Gray, Nancy Flynn and Lisa McCool-Grimes, Ezra Dan Feldman, Emma Crandall, Chris Emslie, Gillian Cummings, Tamiko Beyer, and last but by no means least, AJ Atwater.

Start here, with the introduction from the amazing guest editor, Tim Jones-Yelvington. We’d love to know what you think about this issue. We’re waiting to hear from you, in all the usual places, and hopefully a few unusual ones, too.

Lit Mag Contest

Writer’s Relief is giving away multiple vouchers for literary journal subscriptions. To enter, writers/readers must commit to subscribing to two literary journals of their choice between now and October 12. They hope to help drum up some new subscribers for literary journals and raise awareness about how important lit mags are to the writing community.

Here’s the link:

Best of the Net Nominations

It’s that time of year when we start re-reading the wonderful work you send our way. We’ve made our nominations for Best of the Net and this year, they are:

In Our Wedding Vows, I’d Beg,  Hannah Miet

Letter To Her, Without Her, In Red, Nate Pritts

On Sunday We Bathed In Rose Water, Alexis Pope

What It Means When I Ask You To Zip Up My Dress, Rachel Brown

Diagram of the Carnal Male :: Bendi Barrett

Championship, Peter Schwartz


Gracias, Pero SI, Robb Todd,

The Fawn Skull, Katy Resch

Creative Nonfiction

On Being a Woman Writer, Lidia Yuknavitch

Of This I Am Certain, Brian Oliu

1,001 Awesome Words Contest

We are now accepting entries for our third annual writing competition, 1,001 Awesome Words. We think it suits the PANK ethos to leave it at that. This time, we have a guest judge, the one and only Michael Martone.

Not enough, you say? Need key words, you say? Explode. Excite. Intrigue. Surprise. Blow. Our. Pea. Sized. Brains. Any form or formlessness, 1,001 words or less. You know who you are. Now go to it.

Entries will be accepted until 11/1/11.

Winners will be announced by 11/15/11.

Prizes and Fees

Yes! Prizes!

1st Place: $650* and publication in PANK 6.
2nd Place: $250 and Publication in PANK 6 .

Yes. An entry fee, too.

$10 for one entry; $15 for two entries; $25 for three entries. Each entrant will receive a copy of PANK No. 6, out in January 2012.

*For the sake of transparency– We realize entry fees are controversial—acknowledged. Whether you believe us or not, this isn’t a reading fee—we consider it a privilege and pleasure to read your work. While we are hoping this will make us some money, we mostly want to hold a contest and we want to pay the winners, and we want the winners to truly benefit from participation. That said, the announced prize money is predicated on getting enough entrants (we don’t anticipate a problem). However, if PANK draws a prize pool less than $900, we will announce how many entries we received, and we will pay the two winners on a graduated scale with the first place winner getting 50% of the prize pool.

If this doesn’t suit you, we respect your decision not to participate..

To Enter

Go to and select if you are submitting 1, 2, or 3 entries. Follow the instructions to upload your work.

If you have any questions regarding the contest, e-mail, subject “CONTEST QUERY”.

London Calls You

We’re excited to announce the publication of our newest special issue, London Calling, guest-edited by the one and only Kirsty Logan.  This is an exciting issue with work by Jo Gatford, Cara McGuigan, Susan Rukeyser, Andrew Pullan, Holly Dawson, Alice Slater, Mandy Haggit, Jarred McGinnis, Celeste Auge, Angela Readman, Gareth Durasow, Dawn West, Ronnie Stephens, Helen Sedgwick, Jack Nicholls, Nikki Magennis, Harry Giles, Sarah Dalton, Flora Baker, and Claire Askew.

From the Special Issue Editor:

Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Ireland – together, we fucking rule. There are 60 million of us and we’re producing some of the finest literature, art and music in the world. I could name names, but I have no doubt at all that if you list all your top fives then a British or Irish person will be in there somewhere. Not bad for a tiny, chilly clump of islands at the top of the globe.

I know that even now some of you are shouting at your computer screens THERE IS NO BRITAIN. And you’re right (although you probably shouldn’t shout at me through your computer, because I can’t hear you). There is no Britain, not really. There is England, and that is what most non-Western-European people mean when they say British. There is Scotland right up at the top, and Wales off to the left, and then on a completely separate island there’s Ireland, and at the top of that is Northern Ireland, which is officially part of the UK but not Britain. Each of these places have their own history, culture, habits and personality.

It’s confusing, I know. But I use ‘British’ because I want to be British. No – I want to be England-Scotland-Wales-Northern-Ireland-and-Ireland-ish. Because despite the disagreements and distances and the way we all put different condiments on our chips, we are all in this together.

In editing this issue I wanted to share this place I am from, but more than that I wanted to read about all the parts of it I have never seen. So here it is: a special issue.

There are gaps, of course there are. Twenty stories and poems cannot explore the entire history and modern culture of five separate countries. Think of this more as a series of keyholes: I cannot provide a doorway large enough for you to step inside the sprawl of British and Irish life, but I can let you peep inside. If you like what you see, there are plenty of doorways big enough to admit you.

Come on in with me. I’ll put the kettle on.

Hard to Say: Now Available

Ethel Rohan’s Hard to Say is now shipping.

You can buy the paperback for $8, the e-book (in several formats) for $4, or both for $10. Act fast! Our books sell out quickly.

The e-book was generously created by Vaughan Simons. If you need an e-book produced professionally, affordably, and in a timely manner, definitely check him out. You can find Vaughan online here.

What are folks saying about Hard to Say?

The stories in Hard To Say, the work as a whole, will knock the breath right out of your lungs. Ethel Rohan’s writing is the real deal: unadorned, brave, compassionate and impossible not to read in one sitting. You’ll want to share this with the people you love best, the ones you trust to understand how painful life can be; and how exquisite, how necessary the expression of that fact, in the hands of a true artist, can also be.
–Robin Black, author of If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This

Like the whispered secrets and silent prayers that play throughout, a rising and relentless tension builds. Rohan’s strong, precise prose shines across this collection of lost innocents like a comet made of cut glass.
–Amelia Gray, author of Threats

Ethel Rohan’s Hard To Say is simply magnificent. How else to describe these stories where characters, always on the verge of opening their hearts to the world, turn from the chance again and again? The urgency in these stories is so palpable, the tension between mother and daughter so well rendered, I found myself pacing as I read, unable to keep still. Standing on the opposite side of the room, an ache opening somewhere within, there was no need to ask how I’d gotten there. The answer was in my hands.
–Eugene Cross, author of Fires of Our Choosing

Ethel Rohan’s stories are small, but they feel vast and bold. And she leads you through them desperately, like a ghost through the ruins of the world.
–Ben Loory, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some For the Day

Hard to say, but Ethel Rohan does in tremendous words that hold up a mirror to the struggles of a family, a little girl, a young woman, a mother, a life. The stories in this collection read like crossing a river by way of rocks; unsteady, precarious, exhilarating and scary.  But Ethel takes our hand and guides us, showing us a fragile beauty just under the surface.
–xTx, author of Normally Special

An Irish daughter struggles with her relationship with her mother, who drinks, beats, goes blind, loses her sanity. The stories in this aptly titled book are relentless, full of terror, frighteningly true. Ethel Rohan’s rhythms will get inside you.
–Matthew Salesses, author of Our Island of Epidemics