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Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, Elizabeth MacDuffie (interview)

Meat for Tea: The Valley Review was founded by Elizabeth MacDuffie and Alexandra Wagman. Their mission is to “recognize and feature the work of artists, writers, and musicians living in western Massachusetts and beyond.” The magazine takes poetry, visual art and short fiction. Simultaneous submissions are welcome. One quirk of Meat for Tea is that every time a new issue of the magazine is launched, it is accompanied by a Cirque. These Cirques are usually local and include local bands and various other artists. Meat For Tea recently won an award through the Bookbuilders of Boston in their 2014 annual book show.

How did you get started with Meat for Tea?

When I was an adjunct professor of English at a local community college, I became fast friends with a new addition to the staff, Alexandra Wagman. She holds an MFA from Cal Arts and is overflowing with creative ideas. One day, when we were both in the office, she turned to me and said, “We should start a literary magazine.” I said, “Uh, ok,” and Meat for Tea was born shortly thereafter.

Did you have previous experience in Editing and Publishing?

Yes, while working on my Bachelor’s degree I was first associate editor, then editor in chief of Dickinson State University’s arts & literary journal, Impressions. I was also selected to be Chair of the Board of Student Publications, but had to step down from this post because of a difficult pregnancy. While working on my Master’s at Bemidji Stare University I served on the editorial board of Dust and Fire, a women’s literary journal. I was also one of the editors/ creators of Fertile Ground, another women’s literary publisher. In 2011 I was one of the fiction editors for Best Indie Lit. New England. This year I am returning as a fiction editor for Best Indie Lit. New England, Volume II.

Is the magazine only available in print or is it available online as well?

The magazine is available in print and also online.

Do you feel that getting submissions for art and music are harder or easier than for writing? What advice would you give to a budding magazine to illicit more of the former?

I produce a multi-media release party each time a new issue of my quarterly publication comes out. I’ve attached the poster for the event coming up this Saturday. At these events, I have art on exhibit, spoken word, performance art, films at the neighboring brewery, and live music. The events take place at Sonelab and The Abandoned Building Brewery. My husband, Mark, is one of the chief engineers at Sonelab and records lots of bands; we know a lot of musicians and artists. That being said, I must say that getting submissions of art for the magazine can be challenging. I would advise a budding magazine to immerse themselves in their local art community. Go to as many art events, openings, and exhibits as possible. Always sign the guest book, leaving your website and email for artists to see. Cultivate as many artists as you can through social media too. It’s hardest to get submissions of recipes and I like to publish a recipe in every issue of Meat for Tea. I do not know why it’s so difficult to get submissions of recipes. Still trying to solve this one.

What transitions has Meat for Tea taken over time?

The inaugural issue of the magazine had a black and white cover. We moved to a full color cover starting with our second issue. For the first few years, Alex and I made the magazine in a different size and shape for each issue. Some issues were tiny and chunky, some longer with a horizontal format, some larger, we just played with everything. When the magazine was in its third year, I was lucky to have a brilliant graphic designer, Rafael Lino, on board. He created the format we still use. He also designed the website. When the magazine turned seven, my current graphic designer, (and husband), Mark Alan Miller and I decided it was time to move to a perfect bound format. When the magazine turns ten, we want to make the occasion by creating a best of Meat for Tea anthology. I want it to be a substantial hardcover tome of about 400 pages.

On the homepage of the website, there is a really interesting drawing of men around a table that look to be having a feast. Certain men and other objects are click-able and I was curious; what kinds of things can we expect to find when we do click on any given object within it?

You’ll find David Yow’s brilliant site for his art. There’s a link to Meat for Tea‘s Facebook page and a NewPages link, where Meat for Tea has a featured listing and a great review. There are many fascinating links to explore around this round table.

How did you come up with the name “Meat for Tea” for a literary magazine?

Back in the dark ages when everyone used My Space, a fellow messaged me to ask me out. He asked if I would like to “meat for tea.” Because I am a stickler about proper spelling and grammar, he didn’t get the date, but ti like the way the words looked, how they almost wanted to be a palindrome. Initially, Meat for Tea was a band, but one band two band members moved away and I was left alone, with this great name. When Alex suggested we do a literary magazine, I knew I wanted to call it “Meat for Tea.” If you go to our press page you’ll find the interview I did for Connecting Point, a local public television show.

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