Knox College alumnus Sam Martone ’11 has contributed a creative writing piece to #GOODLitSwerveAutumn, an anthology of independent literature about Kanye West.
Salvatore Pane, Assistant Professor of English and creative writing at the University of Indianapolis, started the project as a result of interest shown in response to a tweet he sent out.
“Kanye West and his label just released GOOD Music: Cruel Summer, and Sal half-joked on Twitter, ‘If I were to put together an anthology called GOOD Lit, would you guys submit?’ A bunch of people responded positively, and so he decided to actually put it together,” Martone said.
Though Kanye West is the focus of the project, he is not required to be the focus of every piece included in the anthology.
“I don’t think there’s a requirement to have Kanye appear, but I imagine that’s what a lot of writers are gravitating toward. The lineup is mostly a group of younger writers who are really interested in and fascinated by pop culture characters like Kanye,” Martone said.
Martone was immediately intrigued by the premise of the anthology, but admitted that he is not the biggest Kanye fan.
“I thought it was genius, but I’m always in favor of tackling wacky and unexpected subjects with writing. You know, I never was a big Kanye fan, but ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ really won me over — I think that album is brilliant. Kanye’s still a pretty mediocre rapper to me, but the music he puts together is often incredible,” Martone said.
Martone sees the anthology as a good way to breach the barrier between pop culture and serious literary pieces.
“We’re inundated by rap music and TV shows and video games, yet I think there’s still this hesitancy for serious literature to include these things because it’s not entirely human. The real danger in my mind is that the piece will be heavily dated by its content, but I think the idea that technology and pop culture, that make up so much of our life, can’t address real, human experiences is a very limited way of looking at the world,” Martone said.
Martone’s piece does not focus on Kanye, instead choosing to delve into another rapper who frequently associates himself with the GOOD Music label, 2 Chainz. Learning about the project gave him the perfect venue to pursue his desire to consider pop culture from a literary perspective.
“I’d been thinking of writing about 2 Chainz for a while, just because 2 Chainz fascinates me, but I didn’t really start writing it until after Sal sent the call out. Kanye does make an appearance as a character in the story, too. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s about me and 2 Chainz forming a barbershop duo,” Martone said.
Martone indicated that though he does not know the full lineup of contributing authors, the majority are “young writers who are pretty widely published in literary journals, and have books and chapbooks out with small independent presses. There’s also my good friend Rebecca King, who graduated from Knox in ’09 and now runs Origami Zoo Press,” Martone said.
According to Martone, #GOODLitSwerveAutumn is an independent publication and not part of an upcoming series, “at least for now, though I imagine depending on how successful it is, some kind of sequel might be in order. … Originally Sal was just planning on putting it on his web site, but this press called NAP offered to publish it as an ebook. So that’s exciting.”
When asked whether he is currently working on any other projects, Martone indicated that he is always writing one thing or another.
“I’m in an MFA program right now, so writing takes up the bulk of my time. I’m working on a series of kind-of memoir-collage pieces that also follows the plot of the video game Dragon Quest V, but aside from that, no big projects, just stories and poems all the time,” Martone said. “I’m also managing editor of Hayden’s Ferry Review, a literary magazine out of Arizona State University, and I work for Origami Zoo Press.”