Twelve years ago today, I launched Big Other, introducing it as “an online forum of iconoclasts and upstarts focusing its lens on books, music, comics, film, video and animation, paintings, sculpture, performance art, and miscellaneous nodes and sonic booms.” It would be a place where great minds with big hearts could “explore how we are made and unmade by images, language, and sound; examine computer-mediated worlds; and dance along with various tumults, genre- and other border-crossings, trespassings, transgressions, and whatever, nevermind.”
It’s far exceeded my hopes and expectations, to say the least.
Delighted to have published writing by Pulitzer Prize winners Rae Armantrout and Forrest Gander, National Book Award winners Daniel Borzutzky and Arthur Sze, Grand Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy Samuel R. Delany, and a host of other stellar writers, including Harold Abramowitz, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, Roberta Allen, Will Alexander, Osama Alomar, Rosaire Appel, Louis Armand, Margo Berdeshevsky, Charles Bernstein, Sarah Blackman, Gabriel Blackwell, Erika Bojnowski, Jaswinder Bolina, Laynie Browne, Jeff Bursey, Grace Campbell, Tobias Carroll, Olivia Kate Cerrone, Jimmy Chen, Shira Dentz, Kim Chinquee, Ewa Chrusciel, Jane Ciabattari, Robert Coover, Lynn Crawford, Laura Cronk, Gillian Cummings, Renée D’Aoust, Shome Dasgupta, Raymond de Borja, John Domini, Nik De Dominic, Shira Dentz, J. S. DeYoung, Debra Di Blasi, Rikki Ducornet, Elaine Equi, Joan Frank, Brian Evenson, Jared Daniel Fagen, Ted Greenwald, Lisa Gulesserian, Tina May Hall, Jefferson Hansen, Alissa Hattman, Karen Heuler, Tim Horvath, Jessie Janeshek, Andrew Joron, Michael Joyce, Brian Kiteley, Tom La Farge, Babak Lakghomi, Karen An-hwei Lee, Michael Leong, William Lessard, Norman Lock, Robert Lopez, Brendan Lorber, Sean Lovelace, Peter Markus, Michael Martone, Cris Mazza, Miranda Mellis, Joe Milazzo, Albert Mobilio, Ted Morrissey, Pedram Navab, Urayoán Noel, Lance Olsen, Danielle Pafunda, Joe Pan, Meg Pokrass, Nick Francis Potter, D. A. Powell, Aimee Parkison, Dawn Raffel, Victoria Redel, John Reed, Jeffery Renard Allen, David Leo Rice, Doug Rice, Elizabeth Robinson, Lisa Russ Spaar, Pamela Ryder, John Schertzer, Davis Schneiderman, Peter Selgin, Rone Shavers, Gary Sloboda, Ken Sparling, Laurie Stone, Stephanie Strickland, Terese Svoboda, Cole Swensen, Arthur Sze, Kailey Tedesco, Edwin Torres, Rodrigo Toscano, Tony Trigilio, J. A. Tyler, Joanna C. Valente, G. C. Waldrep, William Walsh, Marjorie Welish, Curtis White, Joshua Wilkinson, Tyrone Williams, D. Harlan Wilson, John Yau, and Micah Zevin.
Some of the writing I’ve edited/published in Big Other has been subsequently anthologized in The Best Small Fictions 2020 and 2021, Best Microfiction 2021, and Wigleaf‘s “Top Fifty 2020”; and has been subsequently published by Bellevue Literary Press, Black Square Editions, BlazeVOX, BOA Editions, C&R Press, Coffee House Press, Copper Canyon Press, Dzanc Books, Marsh Hawk Press, New Directions, Pelekinesis, Persea Books, Ravenna Press, Rescue Press, Roof Books, Sonder Press, and the University of Arizona Press.
In 2019, I launched the annual Big Other Book Awards, which recognizes excellence in literature and supports the vital work of innovative writers and adventurous presses. In addition to awards for fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and translation, we present a Readers’ Choice Award and awards for lifetime achievement and outstanding service to the literary community.
And if that weren’t enough, our podcast, Jamming Their Transmision, has featured Rikki Ducornet, Samuel R. Delany, Debra Di Blasi, Norman Lock, Dawn Raffel, Eugene Lim, William Lessard, and many others.
Here’s some recent praise from stellar writers for Big Other and my work helming it:
“Big Other [is] one of the very best online innovative arts & culture magazines out there.”
“John Madera is passionate about good writing and the ideas that good writing spawns. Moreover, he is a great friend to the writers of literary fiction who are lucky to have merited his attention.”
“John Madera’s beautiful project, Big Other, [is] always the source for writing that troubles and views from offside.
“When my cowardly first publisher dumped me, and I was down on my luck, two men picked me up and dusted me off. The first was Ryan W. Bradley, who published two of my books at Artistically Declined. The second was the founder of Big Other and its eternally renewable source of energy, John Madera, who actually found reviewers for those books, which meant that they were read. That’s all any writer really wants. But I don’t want to imply that Big Other is good only because it was good for me. Novels and stories and essays don’t have to be social melodramas with characters you are encouraged to love because you can relate to them and characters you are encouraged to hate because they’re cartoon people—but they are incontrovertibly social. e are who we are and write what we write because of the people around us; that we are independent geniuses succeeding on our own terms is pop-culture bullshit. Big Other is an emphatically social endeavor. It’s a community not of yards and cars and apartment doors and media platforms and dogma, but of minds and and ideas and work. And where else can you celebrate Wallace Stevens these days? The man was a Taft Republican for Christ’s sake!”
Thanks to all of the abovementioned writers, for writing the best words in the best order, for creatively and intelligently contributing to the critical dialogue about art, literary and otherwise. Thanks, too, for your many acts of literary citizenship, the many ways you help build and sustain community.
Finally, thanks to all the readers and supporters of Big Other and its writers.
Here’s to another twelve years and beyond!
(Image detail: Wassily Kandinsky’s Squares with Concentric Circles (1913))
John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.