Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Burner Magazine, with Sarah Miniaci and Leah Stephenson

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Sarah Miniaci and Leah Stephenson (photo credit: Rebecca Baran)

Burner Magazine, a digital pop art magazine named one of “five new webzines worth a click” by EYE Magazine, takes the boring out of the literary and arts scenes, bringing together original and edgy artists of all shapes and sizes. It promises to get your blood pumping and your heart racing, to induce literary and visual crushes. The Burner contributor is a muse and amusing, compelling and never complacent. Burner is about science, art, truth, conspiracies, naturalism, cyborgs, music, beauty, sex and everything in between.

Burner 03: The Music Issue goes live today! Check out www.burnermag.com for editorials and features of Yoko Ono, Saul Williams, Broken Social Scene, Chromeo, Pendulum, Russ Chimes, Peaches, Seefeel, Humans and Bikini, plus Canadian media personalities Jian Ghomeshi and Kate Carraway. All selected poetry, prose, photography and visual art revolve around the theme of music, to truly show that art rocks.

For an under-the-covers peek at Burner, Open Book caught up with Leah Stephenson (Executive Editor) and Sarah Miniaci (Editor-in-Chief) of Burner Magazine.

Open Book:

Tell us about Burner Magazine.

Leah Stephenson:

Art by the people for the people, with smarts, sex appeal, soul, because everyone is inherently intelligent.

Sarah Miniaci:

Burner is where Art comes to hang with Fun. They drink an entire bottle of wine together, get wasted, invite their usually-uptight friend Literature to join the party, dance 'til their legs hurt, call a cab, draw on each other's faces with hot pink lipstick...and possibly end up passing out on the floor as the sun is coming up, having created something magical and unique and strange and wonderful in the process of partying their stodgy little faces off. Hypothetically, of course.

OB:

Why did you decide to throw your energy into the creation of this magazine?

LS:

I never throw my energy anywhere. I decided to see if the demand was as big and significant as I thought it was, both among artists and readers. I fully felt its need, both as an artist and as an art engager. I agreed with its core philosophies, particularly those related to art as a non-elitist, "popular" act and the need for art that taps into people’s own innate intelligence. It also fulfilled and brought together long-standing instincts, activities and goals of my own.

SM:

I'm a fan of interesting, delightful distractions. I think most writers are. Quite naturally, I adore magazines. And while there are many, many, many in existence that I love and cherish and read until their pages wear thin, there really aren't any magazines out there that are doing what I then-imagined Burner could. There came a day wherein quite suddenly all of my philosophies and ideas regarding publishing really materialized in my hyperactive brain, and from that moment forth Burner's trajectory felt nothing short of inevitable. The impetus is and has always been to create a place where art, literature and their creators are free to be their beautiful, sexy, accessible, powerful, spontaneous, weirdo, awesome selves.

OB:

Burner Magazine has fairly broad submission guidelines — you even have a category called "GAK" for work that doesn't fit into any of the traditional genre categories. Can you give us an example of "GAK" that you've published in the magazine?

LS:

“A Sentimental Education” by Andrew Battershill (Issue 02) is an example of GAK. What is its genre? It’s not a short story, nor is it non-fiction. It’s not a letter nor a list nor a complaint, not flash fiction, not a poem. It’s GAK. We didn’t want to restrict people’s imaginations nor make rigid artists’ conceptions of themselves, their work.

SM:

What Leah said!

OB:

Burner 03: The Music Issue goes live today, March 1st! Tell us about some of the submissions that you received for this issue. Did anything surprise you?

LS:

I never cease to be stunned by the volume and enthusiasm of the submissions. And the number of really strong submissions. And the handful that just don’t read the guidelines at all. Please don’t send us 6000 words when we ask for 1000. I’m not going to read one word. “A Love Letter to Lester” arrived the day before the deadline and nearly knocked me over backwards.

SM:

Oh, man. Do I have to? Submission reading is essentially trance-like for me: a total haze by the time it's over and done with. But no, seriously. I love anyone and everyone who submits to Burner, and everything, and absolutely nothing at all, is surprising.

OB:

What articles in this issue of Burner Magazine are you most excited about?

LS:

Saul Williams, Yoko Ono, “The Late Night John Peel Show,” “A Love Letter to Lester,” the Mixtape Series, Mai Ismail.

SM:

Kate Carraway's forthright, funny, fantastic answers in her Mixtape Series interview. Lindsey Lee's electro-disco-princess photos. Christian Simpson's "Icons." Jeffrey Berg's ode to the days of Studio 54 in "Where Do You Go When The Record is Over." Dean Russo's "Hendrix." Our interview with my own personal version of Star Wars' Yoda, Yoko Ono. And everything else jammed between its 106 beautiful pages, of course!

OB:

What is the biggest challenge to editing and publishing Burner Magazine?

LS:

We need more resources, in particular time and money dedicated just to Burner. We’re a self-funded start-up that is ready to grow, grow, grow!

SM:

Er, not shutting down my MacBook until 2 a.m. most nights? Eating take-out days upon days in a row because I'm too excited and overwhelmed with Burner business to even entertain the idea of cooking? Non-existent funds? The ever-dwindling hours in a week? All of the above (and more) and ultimately, nothing. Because I love it, love it, love it.

OB:

Tell us about your own backgrounds. How did you come to be involved in publishing?

LS:

There is lost in the mists of time a cassette tape of me at four years old, demanding from my older cousin babysitter that we do “a permission.” “A permission?” she asked, perplexed. “Yes, you know, when I say something and you say something back,” I responded firmly. “Oh, an interview!” “Yeah, a permission.” Add to this early decisive stubbornness a hunger for and pursuit of all things literary, musical, theatrical, philosophical, technological; a desire to use art and media to inspire change; a webzine in the early days of the internet; a constant engagement of my communication, fundraising and coordination skills, and you have someone ready to start a digital pop art magazine in the early 21st century.

SM:

I used to draw and staple together little magazines when I was about nine — they'd contain articles about places in the world I wanted to visit (London), things I liked (food coloring my Barbie's hair to make it the colour "rainbow") and so on and so forth. Oh, and I'm a terrible drawer. I suppose that might have been an early indication that I had a predilection for creating. More directly, I borderline obsessively studied tons and tons of philosophy and technology and literature before, during and after university. I worked in a publishing house for a little while — not literary, unfortunately — but I liked the vibe. I ran many blogs — none of which I'll name but a couple of which did relatively well within their respective markets. I paid a few visits to my passion and instinct for design along the way. Combine all of the above with a love of the internet, a great idea, a kick-ass partner and a lot of hard work, and say hello to Burner!

OB:

Have you decided on a theme for Burner 04?

LS & SM:

The Revolutionaries Issue!!! Raaarrrrr!!!

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Was this enough of a teaser for you? Find Burner 03: The Music Issue here!

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