From 1997-2007, I edited and published the small press literary zine dig. It was an approximately annual publication, painstakingly handmade, low-tech, with a print run of two hundred copies per issue. The last and twelfth issue was published in spring of 2007.
dig. began in 1997 after I finished university and was newly involved in Toronto’s small press community. Initially it was a poetry-only zine, featuring work by emerging Canadian poets. In those days, it was published two or three times a year, and was distributed in various book and record stores across Canada, but that pace wasn’t entirely realistic, and dig. soon settled into being an annual publication.
Other facets of dig. started to change after the first couple of issues. It expanded to include fiction, artwork, and interviews. dig. began to host launch parties at Toronto bars, with readings, music and assorted debauchery. I published a wider range of styles of writing by both emerging and more established writers. It became available by subscription, at small press fairs, at the aforementioned launch parties, and via a website.
I was as passionate about the handmade element of dig. as I was about selecting and editing the work that comprised each issue. For the first seven issues, each cover was made of handmade recycled paper, hand-stamped, and the binding was hand-stitched. Later issues had a different look as I became rather obsessed with collage. Of each two hundred copies of every issue, dig. always had diligently handmade, unique and artful covers – using unsettling imagery from medical texts, old maps, acetate, papers made of spinach, creepy puppet photographs from the 1970s and more. Every copy of every issue was a one-of-a-kind textual object for the readers’ aesthetic and intellectual pleasure.
Inside, I published the best of contemporary writing that landed in my mailbox (and later, Inbox). I was not loyal to one particular genre or school of thought; my tastes have always been diverse. The primary criteria was quality and creativity. That openness intended to keep the work in each issue varied and fresh. I hope that editorial mandate was successful.
dig. was well-received in the small press community and occasionally snuck into more mainstream spaces like CBC Radio 1 (Definitely Not the Opera in 1999). Here are some comments from reviews of dig.:
“Highly recommended and deserving of your support.” – Word. October, 1997.
“With no apologies: you’ll dig Dig. (sic)” – Broken Pencil. Winter, 1998.
“Since 1997 editor Jennifer LoveGrove has combined snazzy production values with a discerning literary eye to create an accessible and delectable zine… Challenging and innovative, Dig (sic) is a litzine that just might convert poetic unbelievers to the cause.” – This Magazine. March/April, 2002.
“…the type of small press publication you on hold to for years…an excellent read, definitely one of the top litzines anywhere.” – Word. February, 2003.
But I can only do the same thing for so long, and after a decade of dig. it was time to move on. I joined In Other Words on CKLN 88.1FM in 2007 and found that a similar impulse to the one that created dig. was fulfilled by hosting and producing a literary radio show.
I still missing editing, publishing and making dig., but it is retired. I am proud of its legacy, publishing the early work of writers who have gone on to stellar careers, publishing books and being nominated for Griffins and Gillers (one of each from dig. alumni). It was a good run.
The premier issue! Back when the submission call still said “Nothing romantic or boring.” Covers of handmade paper. This issue contains work by Jay MillAr, Alex Boyd, Debra Anderson, and the editor’s cat Oskar, among others. Print run of 75. Limited number of copies still available.
Contains poetry and fiction by Gordon Michael Allen, Betsy Trumpener, Michael deBeyer, Shannon Bramer, Laura Lush, Iain Deans and more. First installment of the chaotic comic “Sublime Deliverance” by Dave Johnny. Print run 150. Limited number of copies still available.
Featuring poetry by Andrea Griffith, Suzanne Hancock, Kenneth Pobo, Ruba Nadda, Elana Wolff, l.e. vollick, and more. Contains the second and final installment of the apocalyptic comic “Sublime Deliverance.” Print run 200. Limited number of copies still available.
The special Vixen issue, featuring writing and art about female sexual desire. Contains work by Louise Bak, Kathryn Payne, Maureen Hynes, Sandra Haar, and others, plus an interview with porn queen Nina Hartley, as well as with Carlyle Jansen, proprietress of the Toronto women’s sex store Good For Her. Print run 200.
Writing by Daniel f. Bradley, Paul Vermeersch, Mark Connery, Patrick Rawley, Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg, and more. Also a great interview with Tony Burgess. Print run 200. Limited number of copies still available.
Bigger than ever! Full of poetry, fiction, art and reviews by Adeena Karasick, Sandra Alland, Geroge Murray, Sherwin Tjia, Alexandra Leggat, Adam Sol, Michael de Beyer and more. Print run 200. Limited number of copies still available.
Debut issue with dig.’s new look! The handmade paper is replaced with original strange collage work (think Martha Stewart on acid). Every one is different. Contains work by Stuart Ross, Emily Pohl-Weary, Kate Sutherland, and others, plus an interview with Jonathan Bennett. Print run 200. Limited number of copies still available.
Featuring new work from Kevin Connolly along with an in-depth interview. Also work by Alice Burdick, Gary Barwin, John Stiles, Diane Baker Mason, Michelle Berry, and others. Print run 200. Copies are available.
Featuring new poems by Jon Paul Fiorentino, David McGimpsey, Gary Barwin, Kevin Connolly, Sandra Alland, Hugh Thomas, as well as an interview with Jen Currin, and fiction by Salvatore Difalco. Copies are available.
Copies are $7 each – contact me for details.