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.”