Photo by Meredith Davenport
Lindsay Herko ’12MFA
What is Canvas?
Canvas is a literary journal for teens, by teens. Four times a year, Canvas comes out and the teens that we have on our board read up to 500 submissions. They are responsible for doing all of the reading and curating of the content in the magazine. We’re able to have editorial board members from all over the world because we do everything over Skype and email. Right now, we have people from as far away as Pakistan on our board.
Young people have many platforms to express themselves online. Why do you think they’re interested in collaborating on a print journal?
There’s a huge rise in teens publishing their poetry and writing on forums like Instagram. Even though they can connect that way, teens still want to be part of a place, you know? They like that they’re actually building something that’s real in the world. We have 25 people on our board, and we have a waitlist of almost 100 people who want to be involved in this. People have been very excited just to be on the waitlist — which, we’re stunned, actually. So, that speaks to that desire for community.
Lindsay Herko and Nina Alvarez (Photo by Meredith Davenport)
What types of material does Canvas publish?
We’re open to all genres and forms. Some magazines will say they’re not going to take things like genre fiction. We don’t have those kinds of restrictions when we open ourselves up for submissions. Among some of the editors from different traditions, those tastes will surface and influence somebody else who may not have been exposed to that. Generally, everybody is superpassionate about something and they communicate that with each other.
How does the online Museum of Canvas complement the journal?
I love museums of all sorts, and I often think about how we could curate museums that are either mobile or in unusual places. So [Canvas publisher Nina Alvarez] knew this about me, and was very supportive when I said, “What if we had a space on the website that would be a virtual Museum of Canvas, where we could interview some of the artists that do cover and interior art for the magazine?” It’s another location we can create for people to enjoy something. We’ve been having fun talking with the artists. One of our artists is actually from South Korea, so that’s been exciting as well, to get international voices in there.
How does Canvas fit into your professional life?
It feels like my third full-time job. But it’s a worthy one, you know? As harried as we get, we feel completely overwhelmed when somebody gets excited about it. I am an adjunct professor of creative writing at RIT in Rochester, New York. I’ve taught Experimental Writing, World-building and Intro to Creative Writing. And I also work for my dad’s computer business. That’s where I take care of things like getting my health insurance through work. I’m very lucky to have a chance to teach these interesting courses at RIT, but also, since adjuncts don’t get that kind of support with finances and insurance, to do it in the same city where my dad has a business and lets me build computers and do accounting over there. And I ended up at Notre Dame, of course, through the MFA program, writing fiction. So that’s the passion I have and what I try to do outside of Canvas. All these things, they intertwine to reward each other.
Interview by Jason Kelly ’95, an associate editor of this magazine. To learn more about Canvas, visit canvasliteraryjournal.com.