Artful Dodge is now over twenty years old. Indeed, it seems as if the progress of the journal is somehow out of our hands now, that this endeared project is rather like a mohawked, leather-clad, multi-pierced offspring, fighting us at every turn to make its own unique textual stamp on the world of literature.
During the twenty plus years of the journal’s existence, we have pretty much lived up to our name, dodging our way along with the help of grants from the Ohio Arts Council and support from The College of Wooster, keeping our head above water and somehow managing to publish work from such writers as Nobel Laureate for Literature Czeslaw Milosz, William S. Burroughs, Charles Simic, Naomi Shihab Nye, Tim Seibles, Stuart Friebert, Elizabeth Bartlett, Ronald Wallace, and others. There have also been the Artful Dodge interviews, which Library Review reviewed as “much more perceptive and informative than most,” with such writers as Jorge Luis Borges, Czeslaw Milosz, W. S. Merwin, Nathalie Sarraute, Gwendolyn Brooks, William Least Heat-Moon, Michael Dorris, Tim O’Brien, Stuart Dybek, William Matthews, and Stanislaw Baranczak. We’ve left the years of xeroxing and stapling journals and have arrived at our present production of one perfect bound, four-color double-issue a year, annually receiving more than 3,000 works of poetry and prose.
As far as the childhood of Artful Dodge, the first issue of the magazine was published in 1979 in Bloomington, Indiana. Daniel Bourne, the founding and current editor, commented on the magazine’s literary origins. “The magazine came about during the time when I was working in a rare book library that housed everything from a Gutenberg Bible to the working scripts for Star Trek,” he said. “It also had signed first editions and manuscripts galore of all the 19th and 20th century bigwigs: Twain, Eliot, Plath, and so on. It had Ezra Pound’s literary journal The Exile (four issues, but what a four issues they were!) and Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts, which came out in mimeograph form in the 60’s. After working there for several years and rubbing shoulders with all of this literary activity, I decided I would start a journal myself. The first issue was xeroxed, and, though we published outside submissions, we included a few of my and my fellow editor’s entries under assumed names to help bulk up the magazine. We didn’t know what we were doing or where we were going with this, but somehow we survived.”
Artful Dodge has always had a simple purpose: to print the best work we can find and to look for this work not just within the borders of this country, but outside as well. Thus, our magazine has been shaped and defined by the works in its pages and has developed into a rich, mature publication that can hold its own among the very finest of Ohio literary journals.