FENCE MANIFESTO OF 1997
the skeleton of a wall, the embodiment of a line ...
a pause between fields and a conduit for pleasure ...
a structure at once transparent and definitive ...
Fence is a new journal of poetry, fiction, criticism, and art. Its editors are writers, artists, participants in the cultural throng who are dissatisfied with the stratified, self-consuming body of literary journals avail able. Our contributors are those whose work sits resolutely on the fence, resisting easy definition. We are convinced that mystery, as it is manifested in the subjective yoice, is a legitimate and pleasurable by-product of the agency of the author. We have devised a journal with an explicit mission: if not to erase the lines as they are drawn, at least to expose, defy, and recontextualize them for a new readership: the converted reunited with the curious.
a marker of territory
Fence is a response to a perceived need. We wish to provide a reliable home for the fence-sitters: those writers who are intent on following the lead of what they truly hear as opposed to what they have heard before or what they have read about and with which they hope to align themselves.
a willful ambiguity, an informed non-commitment
Fence is a resting place for work that we recognize by its singularity, its reluctance to take a seat in any established camp, its insistence on the reader's close attention to what is not already understood, digested, judged. Readers will be surprised and refreshed upon encountering in our pages an editorial presence that is unusually self-conscious in its attempts to contextualize, inform, and reciprocally reveal our contributors to our readers-to expose the skeletal cross-purpose of our document.
a shared boundary
We intend to be literally didactic, to enclose territory for an unhindered, unburdened encounter with the discussion of theories, styles, histories, movements, and tastes. Fence offers its readers a richesse of literacy, one that is populist not by virtue of condescension, but by its lack of presumptions.
a vantage point from which to see, simultaneously, several shades of green in the grass
There is nothing radical about this magazine. We do not see the erection of such a fence as a combative or exclusionary measure, but as a gesture of cultivation. Fence stands against the false obfuscation of the fruits of our culture's labor, that which has been framed and sentenced to inaccessibility. We seek, above all, to increase the reader's pleasure.
a midpoint between the acquisition and distribution of stolen goods
There is nothing impenetrable about the work being done today; it is in response to what has come before, that which has been previously allowed; it is now allowed. Within the context of each issue of Fence we reinforce the realm of possibility and contextualize our contributors within it. Fence intentionally blurs the distinction between 'difficulty' and 'accessibility; preferring instead to address a continuum of utterance.
a dashing exercise, a good humoured parry-and-thrust
Our editorial strategy is a balancing act, undertaken in a spirit of inquiry rather than critique. From John Ashbery's poem "Soonest Mended ":
But the fantasy makes it ours, a kind of fence-sitting
Raised to the level of an esthetic ideal
Taken entirely out of context, these lines refer to our own aim and fantasy: to support poetry and fiction that is written without the safety of received theory or streamlined tradition but wholly out of impulse, knowlege, and the experience of necessity.
a dissemination point
We wish to preach dually to the converted and to the curious. Our criticism is immediate and intimate, attempting an explicit address. We hope to break down the wall which we feel has been interposed between the reading public and the material of our individualities-our poems, our fiction—and to build in its place a fence.
Essays by FENCE editors et al from THE BEST OF FENCE 2009
Articles, Exchanges, and Interviews 2000-2019