The Countless Definitions of Weird
We were hanging out the other day, drinking smoothies and talking about the magazine and all the ridiculously great submissions we received, when we decided to try to notice the weird things going on around us. Within a minute, a kid stopped to tie his shoe, but right before he was finished, he took off back in the direction from which he came. We have no idea what happened in his head, but we appreciated the sudden disregard for safety. We saw a formally-dressed skateboarder, an old man being questioned by cops about the jewelry he was selling to passers by, and a man and woman giving out pamphlets who refused to acknowledge us even as we walked by them slowly and gawking, begging for them to show us their weird. It took next to no time for us to see the world for what it truly is: a bunch of weird stuff happening.
On the advent of weirderary: After discussing what “weird” means (people do that, right?), the word “weirderary” came to Jessica’s mind. It was a portmanteau of “weird” and “literary.” She thought for sure someone else had coined the term before her. She googled “weirderary” and no results came up. She texted TJ and Colleen, excited by what might’ve been her first original idea. Jessica quickly bought the URL and snagged the gmail, twitter, and instagram handles for “weirderary.”
Then we had to figure out what “weirderary” was. It was a lit mag, for sure. One that encouraged artistic risk and championed the outliers of society. So we called out to the world: “send us weird things.”
The submissions were astounding. We had over 500 emails of legitimately weird poems, stories, comics, and (what we were most excited to see) other things. Finding a magazine’s worth of writing among the submissions was easy. We could have done two or three volumes from what you all sent to us. The difficulty was in selecting the types of weird that we wanted to showcase in this issue.
Difficulty is the wrong word (we know that we could go back and delete “difficulty” and replace it with the right word, but where’s the drama in that?), because it was so much fun. There are as many definitions of weird as there are people on the planet, and without a back-issue by which people could gauge what we meant by weird, we received the most eclectic variety of pieces imaginable. Part of us is glad that people might have a better sense of what we mean by weird in the context of our magazine when we open back up for submissions. But still, we will always remember fondly the flood of all possibilities of weird that came from our ambiguous first call for “weird things.”
We also decided to include reviews. But be warned: we aren’t lit crit folks and we don’t think weirderary is the place to dissect literature. What that means is that we will only review books we like, and what we write will be more responses than “reviews.” We’re not trying to tell you if a book is good or not–if it’s on here that alone shows we think it’s good. We’re trying to tell you how it made us feel, what it made us think, and how it impacted our lives overall.
We’re stoked about this inaugural issue. We hadn’t dreamed of either the amount or level of response we would get to our calls for submission. 100% of this issue came from the slush pile. We believe that the pieces we chose elucidate weirderary’s definition of weird. It’s our hope that this encourages further exploration in this realm. It’s our fear that it will discourage those whose weird is something else. Know this: All weirds are valuable. Whether it’s in this magazine, in your writing elsewhere, on the street, or in your head, we celebrate it.
Robert Zurer was born in New York City, grew up in Greenwich Village and has lived and worked there all his life. He graduated from Reed College. He has been drawing and painting since he was a child. He is self-taught, although he did study privately with Wade Schuman for a number of years. (website, twitter, tumblr)