Proving Des Moines is NOT boring

Get Lit DSM: Introducing Spoilage

A few weeks ago, I caught a reference to a new literary magazine in the Des Moines Social Club email newsletter – a great source of interesting things going on around DSM. Of course, if you read my last post, you know that the word “magazine” would catch my eye. Combine that with “literary” – I still get teased for being a book nerd – and right away I knew this was something I needed to look into.

63666_145318575622033_1316466666_nI reached out to editors/founders Nate Brown and Jay Kozel through the Facebook page they set up for Spoilage – currently the only online presence for the publication. We met for coffee and a chat about the plans for Spoilage, coined by Nate and Jay as “a cultural metric of, by, and for the people of Des Moines.”

Most lit geeks are kindred spirits, and that was the case here. Nate and Jay are both originally from Des Moines, and like many other natives, they went away to college and returned home to find that Des Moines was a city transformed – now home to vibrant scenes for art, music and independent retail and restaurants, with a community that is supportive of its artists. Out of college, and ready to make their mark, the time seemed ripe to launch a literary magazine in Des Moines. Originally part of a plan to write more themselves, they are quickly finding that launching a journal doesn’t leave much time for writing. But that hasn’t dampened their enthusiasm and commitment to the project.

As Jay and Nate put it, the goal of Spoilage is to promote and share the work of up-and-coming Des Moines literary talent, as well as to provide a free and quality cultural product for the city’s residents. Or as I put it, this is a great opportunity to put Des Moines firmly on the literary arts map, instead of being overshadowed to a certain degree by Iowa City (at least that’s what I’ve observed in my not-quite-two-years-yet in Iowa). It’s great for writers, and great for Des Moines.

Spoilage will be bucking the digital trend by being produced in print only. Think a high-quality, perfect-bound journal fitting comfortably in one hand as you wait for friends to meet you at the bar or coffee shop. To a writer like me, this is refreshing to hear. Yes, it is a thrill to get published anywhere – and often it is easier to get produced online. But there is something extra special about seeing your work in tangible print.

In terms of content, it will feature previously unpublished works of prose, poetry, and cartooning by authors living in or originally from the Des Moines metro area (phew, non-natives are not ruled out!). The plan is to print on a quarterly basis, starting with the inaugural April 2013 issue. While the submission deadline for the first issue has closed, the editors are accepting submissions at all times for future issues. The deadline specifically for the July 2013 issue is June 1st. For submission guidelines, visit their Facebook page .

Of course, print production doesn’t come free, so Nate and Jay are looking to Des Moines businesses, organizations and literary arts patrons to get involved with Spoilage. They offer a modest sponsorship program, featuring three different levels of investment (and I love the tier naming) – First person ($200), Second person ($100) and Third person ($50). Sponsorship includes listing the sponsor’s name on the back cover of the first issue and the option to also distribute the magazine. To learn more about sponsoring, contact the team at

Both the submission guidelines and the sponsorship program offer an accessible way to get involved with Spoilage. I for one can’t wait to get my hands on the first issue!

Oh, and why the name Spoilage? Spoilage in the publishing world refers to unused or not usable print material at the end of a book print run. Now it’s also a great cheeky name for a literary magazine.