Thursday, 28 March 2013

Prime Number Magazine: Life in Words

A prime number can only be divided by 1 or by itself without giving decimals. Thus a literary journal called Prime Number necessarily aims high because the published prose and poetry must be similarly exceptional adding up to an undividable whole. At least, that’s the explanation for the strangely mathematical name of the online magazine that my mind could come up with. Also the literal meaning of prime number hints at high quality, and in fact, publisher and editors state that the magazine is dedicated to “distinctive work, regardless of theme, form or style”. 

The free online quarterly Prime Number was launched in July 2010 and includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, book-reviews, interviews and essays of both established as well as emerging writers. It is thought to serve as a platform for presenting original work to online readers who are interested in contemporary short prose and poetry. Prime Decimals are in-between supplements to the quarterlies and dedicated to flash fiction, flash non-fiction as well as to short poems. Once a year also a print number is brought out that showcases selected works from the online magazines. 

I stumbled across Prime Number that is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA, during my research on different relations between mathematics and literature. The online performance of the magazine is simple and clear. The latest issue is featured on the journal’s homepage with a cover picture, a letter from the editors and a hyperlinked table of contents. All previous issues appear in the archives, their numbers -- faithfully to the name -- following the row of prime numbers starting with 2. Also a list of contributors and a discussion forum are available on the site. 

My time has been too scarce to do much more than browse, but the contents of Prime Number look interesting enough to me to satisfy literature lovers as well as keen writers. I could read only a few of the texts from the eleven numbers that have been published so far and I wasn’t disappointed at all. For aspiring writers it may be a bit of a nuisance that contributions aren’t paid for, but unfortunately this is rather the rule than the exception in our materialistic world. The law of supply and demand is merciless and many gifted writers (or other artists) are discouraged by it.

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