Sweet: A Literary Confection, founded in Columbus, Ohio, by K.C. Wolfe, Katie Riegel and Ira Sukrungruang, publishes poetry and creative nonfiction by both up-and-comers and established scribes. The literary journal has changed both its locus of command and course over the past eight years, but two constants remain: Sweet's advocacy of the written word and its affection and devotion to the poem and essay.
Find out more about the journal and its authors, and chip in to Sukrungruang and co.'s efforts at A Sweet Fundraiser tonight 6-9 p.m. The event features Sukrungruang, Jarod Roselló, Best of the Bay winner Gianna Russo, R. Claire Stephens and Riley Passmore. It all takes place at the Arbor Greene Clubhouse, 18000 Arbor Green Dr. Tampa. Food, drinks, and sweets will be provided. A literary prize drawing and silent auction featuring autographed books by noteworthy Sweet contributors can be won for a donation. Tickets at the door are $15 ($10 for students). If you are unable to be there but you want to contribute in any way, visit the Sweet GoFundme page.
CL caught up with co-founder and USF professor Sukrungruang for a quick Q&A to catch up on what's going on with Sweet amidst its fundraising efforts. Sukrungruang is the author of Southside Buddhist, which won a 2015 American Book Award. His new short story collection, The Melting Season and other stories, is forthcoming from Burlesque Press in March 2016.
CL: Bring us up to speed on Sweet Publications since CL wrote about your emerging onto the lit scene a few years ago.
IS: Sweet has continued to push the literary experience, publishing what we believe is the best poetry and creative nonfiction in the country. We've published established writers like Tim Seibles, Brenda Miller, Nin Andrews, Dinty W. Moore, Lee Martin, and many, many others. We are in our eighth year of working on the magazine — issue 8.2 comes out in January — and our fifth year as a homemade chapbook press. We just published R. Claire Stephens's amazing comic chapbook, Lady In Ink, and we are releasing Jill McCabe Johnson's lyric essay and Brian Baumgart's poetry chapbook in the next few months. The Utne Review called Sweet one of the best literary sources in the country. So, we've kept busy, always championing the willed word.
What will be the authors reading at the event tonight?
Ira Sukrungruang, Southside Buddhist
R. Claire Stephens, Lady in Ink
Jarod Rosello, The Well-Dressed Bear Will (Never) Be Found (Look for Shae Krispinsky's CL interview with the author this week)
Gianna Russo, Moonflower
Other readers will include contributors of Sweet, the magazine, future and past: Riley Passmore, Sarah Viren, who is currently the writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, and the Sweet staff will read selections from the last 8 years.
Stephens's Lady In Ink is different from anything I've come across. It's a clever, seemingly stream-of-conscious triptych of insights that deal with tattoos and a woman's sense of identity. Do you foresee Sweet including more works that blur the lines between genres the way this chapbook blends the graphic novel and essay?
Sweet has published graphic nonfiction in the magazine for the past five years. Stephens's comic is our first foray into the essay comic chapbook. In many ways it follows the tradition of amazing graphic memoirs of the past decade, like Persepolis, Fun Home and Blankets. What I love about Stephens's book is her research in the history of tattoos as it pertains to women. This blend of the personal and historical creates what all good nonfiction seeks to do: expand the dialogue of what it means to human in this world. In Stephens's case, human with a tattoo.
What do you hope to see happen with Sweet in the next few years?
I love the work we've done in the last 8 years. It's not even work. It's a joy. It comes from the heart. But we I want to do more. I not only want to continue working on the magazine and press, but offer independent workshops for teens, veterans and seniors; start Sweet Abroad, short travel-writing classes in Europe and Asia; produce full-length books. Sweet has been an out-of-pocket endeavor and to be able to survive and sustain and do more initiatives, Sweet needs donations. This is why this fundraiser is so important. I think my co-founding editors would agree with me, we want Sweet to be a major literary hub in the country, one that strives to change the world through the written arts.
For more info, email [email protected].