Riddle Fence: An Update

With some new people at the helm as of this season, Riddle Fence is bracing for an exciting future.

When Riddle Fence was conceived in 2007, it started as a one-off publication from The Writers’ Alliance of NL to celebrate the organization’s 20th anniversary.

The brain child of Shoshanna Wingate, the ED of WANL at the time, with poet Mark Callanan on board to edit, the first issue was distributed to members free of charge with extra copies sold to the community.

That one idea originated what is now Newfoundland’s only literary magazine, still going after eight years, publishing edgy, creative writing, alongside work by local visual artists, in a high gloss, high-quality magazine.

With some new people at the helm as of this season, and a few years of experience behind it, it’s bracing for an exciting future.

Between issue 1 and now, Riddle Fence has had its share of wins but also some hiccups or brief lulls due to the rotation of staff and board members as well as lack of funding, but it managed to stay afloat with the creative fundraising endeavours of some savvy workers and local supporters.

Beth Follett has been a Board Member since October 2014. As Treasurer of the Board and the volunteer Managing Editor, she is face and eyes into the magazine on a regular basis.

“Riddle Fence was in financial difficulty last year, but we rose to the challenge, and with tremendous Board effort plus the difficult decision to suspend paid jobs for some months, we made it. I am very excited by the capacities of Riddle Fence’s new Executive Director, Andrew Winter, who is full of ideas and imagination.”

“I am excited to bring new voices to the magazine,” said Winter. “Art is an ever shifting landscape, and we get to be the magazine that tells the public about these new artists and ideas coming out.”

James Langer is one of Riddle Fence’s three poetry editors along with Dana Evely and Randy Drover. He says the biggest challenge is getting mainlanders to “hold Riddle Fence in their hands so they can be struck by the Taser-like epiphany that’s one of the top 5 lit mags in the country.”

One of the new fiction editors, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, signed on for a number of reasons. “One, I get to share it with Megan Coles, who is not only a really strong force in new fiction, but she’s also a total firecracker and one of my best friends here in St. John’s.

“And two, I’ve been channelling my energies into novel-writing for the last few years, and I feel a bit out of the loop with what’s new and hot — and new, hot fiction is almost always found in magazines first. Riddle Fence is such a gorgeously produced magazine. I feel lucky to get to curate the brand spanking fiction that goes in it.”

With this new energy and the solid foundation of the magazine’s renowned history of publishing exciting work, Riddle Fence is poised to stay strong and progressive for a number of years. That being said, it takes more than that to keep it going.

“It takes a community to support it, basically, whether it’s local or national,” says Wingate. “It takes a few people donating an intense amount of energy and time, to cheerlead it to others and remain creative about partnerships that can help supplement financially and get the magazine into new hands.”

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6 Comments

  • I heart Riddle Fiddle fence; thanks for the update! But I have to mention that it is not “Newfoundland’s only literary magazine”. The Newfoundland Quarterly, while now self-referenced as a “cultural Journal” is also still a literary journal. It was started as a literary journal over 100 years ago. So perhaps, since NQ has expanded its coverage/mandate, Riddle Fence may be the only “Purely” literary journal in Newfoundland.
    I suppose this sounds nit-pick-y but for anyone new to reading about local publications I would hate for them to look no further and miss the NQ, which can be a gem.

    • What are you on about? NQ is lovely, but it’s not a literary magazine? Do you know what a literary magazine is? They publish poetry and fiction and review exclusively. See: Prairie Fire or The Antigonish Review, Fiddlehead, etc. NQ is great, way to shamelessly plug it 😉 But Riddle Fence IS the only literary mag here, and that’s fine, we only need one. R.I.P Tickle Ace

      • John is being a bit of a prick, but he’s right. Can’t recall ever reading a poem or even a short peice of fiction in The Newfoundland Quarterly?

        • Nancy, two poems and a book review in the fall issue. I have no connection to NQ but had just been reading the fall issue and so thought of it.

          • Emily: by your standards, The Telegram and The Overcast, which have run short stories and poems amid news and opinions pieces, are literary journals!

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