Phoenix literary magazine ‘Four Chambers’ launches revamped second issue

This is Jake Friedman and Kelsey Pinckney with the magazine, yay words. (Courtney Pedroza/DD)
Four Chambers Press Editor-in-Chief Jake Friedman and Assistant Director Kelsey Pinckney look at the second issue of Four Chambers’ literary magazine during the release party at FilmBar. (Courtney Pedroza/DD)

Four Chambers Press, the Phoenix-based literary magazine, launched its fall 2014 issue Thursday night with a party at FilmBar.

The second issue of the magazine was a labor of love for its editor-in-chief Jake Friedman, who spent many self-described sleepless, over-caffeinated nights selecting and editing poetry and fiction, coordinating with writers and editors and frantically fussing over page margins.

Friedman said that, in many ways, this second issue of Four Chambers is the standard that future issues will follow. The new issue, with 62 poems and 13 prose pieces, has a new design, with a larger size and new suede-laminate cover that will serve as the template for future issues.

But the process of creating the Fall 2014 issue also standardized the work of putting together a literary journal for Four Chambers. When Friedman made the first issue, he said he had no idea what he was doing.

“If there was a problem with the first issue, we would solve it by throwing money at it,” Friedman said. “Now that’s not what we’re doing. My goal is to not lose money. We’re going to be very modest going forward.”

While he was proud of the work with the first issue as an initial product, he said he did not take inventory on costs. The first issue of Four Chambers was printed in a run of 1000 copies, only about half of which are in circulation.

With the second issue, Friedman said he was meticulous with documenting costs. His goal is for the magazine to be self-sustaining and profitable to continue to serve writers seeking a place to have their work published.

“There’s a lot riding on this issue,” Friedman said. “We have to sell out the print run. We have to get to 1000 copies to be profitable. Right now we’re just going for sustainability. It matters that this succeeds because this is hugely meaningful to me and everyone who is involved.”

If the Fall 2014 is less successful than expected, Friedman said Four Chambers can use crowdfunding to survive.

But for the near future, Four Chambers is looking ahead to publishing projects including the Spring 2014 issue, a special comics issue and chapbooks featuring the work of individual writers.

Four Chambers also has events planned through the year, including twice-monthly readings at Phoenix Public Market Cafe’s Open Air Market. There are preliminary plans for a Valentine’s Day event, visits to Flagstaff and Tucson and a booth at Phoenix Comicon.

Jared Duran plans events and programming for the magazine, and is also in charge of the comics issue. He plans to juxtapose short prose stories and comic adaptations. He said the magazine’s events, like the recent “literary mob” on the light rail, expose literary art to people who may not normally seek it out on their own.

“If the magazine is a good platform for literature, then the events are a good social aspect,” Duran said. “It’s a way to put literature in front of people.”

Isaac Caruso designed the second issue, which features the work of four other artists’ illustrations of stories. Caruso’s illustration for the short story “Water Cycle #36” by Bill Neumire appears on the cover.

“We took our time making this one extra-special,” Caruso said. “Phoenix doesn’t have a signature style yet, so it’s exciting to be at this juncture. We all know that it’s hot here, that it’s a big city, that we have a lot of palm trees and a cool logo. But finding our own style is in the mix. Four Chambers is part of finding that out.”

Friedman said Four Chambers, as a magazine and a business, is succeeding on its own terms right now. More than half of the works published in the current issue are from local writers, without any fixed quota. The current issue also includes submissions from American writers outside Arizona and international writers.

“We’re unique at least as far as Phoenix goes,” Friedman said. “It will take a while for us to be significant on a national scale. We’re really just trying to provide a venue for people to publish and read contemporary literature.”

The long-term ambition of the magazine is to reach a level of social, cultural and even historical significance, Friedman said.

Kelsey Pinckney, the magazine’s assistant director, joined in her current position in the early summer this year after helping edit the previous issue. She said that Four Chambers is an inclusive and collaborative platform to support literary art in Phoenix, which otherwise has little support for writing when compared to the events and venues available for music and visual arts.

“I want to highlight that because it can be the same for everyone, anyone,” Pinckney said. “I moved here a year ago and the fact that I am now here, part of something, and I actually get to meet some of the most talented people in our community is the coolest thing that I could ever dream of. Just that makes me realize and believe in its goal and reason, its platform for literary art in the community.”

Four Chambers will hold three more readings throughout the weekend. These include one today at the Roosevelt Growhouse located at 902 N. 6th St., as well as two readings on Sunday, one at the Open Air Market and one at Songbird Coffee & Tea House, located at 214 E. Roosevelt St.

Contact the reporter at bkutzler@asu.edu