our interview with No GLykon & meagan masterman of reality hands

No Glykon and Meagan Masterman run a Somerville-based literary journal called Reality Hands, as well as Clouds and Other Louds, a festival of poetry and fiction readings. This year’s festival will be held on April 27-28 at the Dorchester Arts Project. Read on to learn more about the zine and the festival!

Reality Hands began publishing work in 2011. What was the impetus for starting the zine? Was it a spontaneous decision, or did you discuss the idea for awhile first?

NG: I started the zine as a place for my friends to share their work. I looked around and saw all these rad zines for indie comics, and I decided I wanted a space like that with a focus on text. I didn’t see a space for writers that I thought was cool. I didn’t see a place where I wanted to share my work. I didn’t see a place that shared my values or my aesthetic preferences.

How has the zine evolved over the last 8 years? What have been the surprises along the way?

NG: I'm surprised to have seen so many magazines and presses spawn and die over the years, so many writers fade away. There's so much great work that gets sucked into the void, because our society's devalued literature and art in general. 

Running a magazine, booking shows, running an arts organization or small press is not sustainable. In that, I find that people that do behind-the-scenes work are the most beautiful people. They love art and community even though it refuses to sustain them. It's a tragic love. 

Really one of the biggest changes was Meagan joining. Her help opened up the work, made bigger possibilities.

MM: I was a twice-over contributor to Reality Hands before I started working on the zine. I ran into No at a mutual acquaintance’s party and we quickly struck up a friendship. It was shortly after I moved to Boston in 2016. Reality Hands had been one of my favorite publications for a long time, so I was beyond psyched when No asked if I wanted to work on it. That opportunity in itself was a huge surprise, and a happy one.

I man the submissions inbox. This has brought many surprises. Some pleasant and some less so!

You publish fiction and poetry in Reality Hands, but say that “there are no particular allegiances to genre or style.” Would you say that the zine has an identity regardless, and if so, how would you characterize it?

NG: For the longest time, the identity and curation was just whatever I liked: psychedelic/weird/cosmic aesthetics mixed with realism and melancholic emotional payoffs. And it wasn’t really until Meagan joined that the voice of Reality Hands came into focus.

MM: Lately, we’ve been thinking carefully about what Reality Hand’s genre is. We often characterize it as “shoegaze.” You’ve got the melancholy and atmosphere, but there’s a driving force underneath it. That’s the kind of stuff we want publish: shoegaze literature. 

It looks like you publish chapbooks in addition to the zine. Did you always intend to do both, and what’s it like publishing an individual project?

NG: The intention was to make a rad space for writing that I liked and people I liked. Chapbooks were not planned from day one, but they’re a logical extension of that original impulse.

MM: I’m very proud of the chapbooks we’ve put out. We’ve mostly published local authors. It’s a privilege to put out the work of people who are part of the community and whose work I admire. 

The publication process starts with one/both of us thinking someone is rad. Then we shoot them an email and ask if they have something they’d like to put out with us. Then I get excited when their draft comes in. Then I get excited to put it out in the world. The printing part is handled by No, so it remains mysterious to me. I get only the joy of opening a box of freshly printed chapbooks. 

Recently, No has been working to help writers develop titles from initial idea all the way to finished product. As publishing houses have slashed costs to stay afloat, developmental editing has largely been thrown by the wayside. We’d like to bring that service to our authors.

Do you have any future goals or plans for Reality Hands that you’d like to share?

NG: Build community. Publish full lengths. More developmental editing.

MM: Ditto.

Describe your own writing lives. What are you currently working on/what inspires you at the moment?

NG: I just finished the second draft of a novel that I don’t know what to do with. And I’m 12 weeks into a weird weekly serial fiction thing. I wake up everyday and write for a couple hours before the day job. I don’t submit my work very often, but the act of writing is the most consistent thing in my life. 

MM: A few months ago, I finished a novel about a teen girl with a shitty life who spends too much time online. It’s called “Becca Burchell Is Online.” I’m about 10,000 words into a new novel about a woman who joins a cult. I’m a steady worker on projects. Writing makes me happy, so I do it whenever I can.

Tell us about the Clouds and Other Louds festival! What is it and what do you have planned for those couple of days? Does Reality Hands host other readings and events? 

NG: Clouds and Other Louds is a lot of great writers performing their work and hanging out. We’re interested in make an opportunity for sharing and communing. There is not another event like it. The best way to get a sense of it is to look at the line-up.

Hosting events is a big part of my practice. And the great thing about poetry is that any space can be a venue. I think it’s important to meet and share work and ideas and to build friendships.

MM: Clouds and Other Louds is a two-day poetic arts festival featuring readings by poets and fiction writers from the greater New England area and beyond. It will take place April 27-28 at the Dorchester Art Project. 

There will be some weird stuff, stuff to cry to, and stuff to laugh to. I’m truly psyched to see every single person who will be reading. 

We’re putting on the fest in partnership with Pizza Pi Press, another Boston-area press. And I’m excited to report that the fest will feature reading showcases from Peach Mag (Buffalo, NY) and Glo Worm Press (PHI). Plus, a showcase put on by local poet/amazing person Kayti Lahsaiezadeh

Check out the latest issues of Reality Hands
Learn more about the Clouds and Other Louds festival