Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn literary magazine transitions to a new era

November 3, 2014 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Writers, editors and interns from A Public Space hosted a “Rent Party” to raise money to pay the rent while the Brooklyn Heights non-profit magazine is in a state of transition. From left to right: Jonathan Lee, Elizabeth Gaffney, Lena Valencia, Laura Preston, Dwyer Murphy, Megha Majumdar and Nooshin Ahdoot. Eagle photos by Rob Aburzzese

Brooklyn has been home to some of America’s greatest writers — from Walt Whitman to Truman Capote — and the next one could be discovered in the pages of A Public Space. But for that to happen, the magazine must carry on.

The non-profit literary magazine that specializes in establishing new writers is in a period of transition since its primary benefactor passed away in August. Now it is looking to become more of a grassroots publication that has many benefactors rather than a single one.

Editors, writers and interns of the magazine got together on Thursday night and invited readers and friends to the Brooklyn Heights home of Editor at Large Elizabeth Gaffney for a “Rent Party” to help fund the magazine through the year. Gaffney, an accomplished author, has recently published “When the World was Young,” a novel that brings to life Brooklyn in the war years.

“The party tonight is a little bit special for us as it marks the beginning of a new phase in the magazine’s life,” said Brigid Hughes, the founding editor of A Public Space. “Our founding benefactor, Deborah Pease, passed away in August, and part of what we’re trying to do is expand our network of supporters.”

A Public Space grew out of the Paris Review. When the Paris Review’s founding editor, George Plimpton, passed away more than eight years ago, a group of editors and Pease left the publication to start A Public Space. Hughes explained that Pease became the magazine’s primary benefactor because she always felt passionate about helping other writers get their start.

“When we started the magazine, one of the things that we wanted to do was publish first-time writers,” Hughes said. “So we published a number of writers’ first stories. Now, eight years later, a number of them have gone on to publish at least one book, and some have done quite well. So it’s been great to grow alongside them.”

When Pease passed away, editors were expecting a check from her at the end of the year. In the meantime, bills still have to be paid.

“We would like to raise $2,530 tonight,” said Gaffney. “That’s how much the rent is at the office for one month.”

“[Pease] was very devoted and an amazing reader,” Gaffney continued. “She was a poet herself and was a great believer that literary magazines were the way that new voices come up through the ranks in publishing.”

Based on the support A Public Space received Thursday, it appears that the magazine will continue to thrive. A small but passionate crowd gathered at Gaffney’s home to share food and drinks, listen to readings and participate in some group singing, thanks to Bob Sullivan and the The How Not to Get Rich Orchestra. The magazine also plans on forming a KickStarter campaign, and as a non-profit, it is also aided by grants.