Intro to “Eight Questions You Would Ask Me If I Told You My Name”

In February 2010, we re-branded and re-launched Creative Nonfiction, transforming it from a traditional literary journal to a quarterly magazine. The redesign was quite possibly one of the most challenging—and rewarding—projects we’d tackled up to then. The premiere issue of the “new” CNF, Issue 38: Immortality, took nearly a year to make; the process was fraught with plenty of organizational self-doubt and required a complete re-learning of everything we thought we knew about making an issue of Creative Nonfiction.

So—you might ask—if 38 was such a big deal, why am I writing about Issue 39?

The answer is simple: when I think back on the creation of 39, my memories are void of the anxiety and fear that I recall from the making of 38. If 38 was a voyage across unchartered waters, 39 was a quick dip in a neighbor’s pool.

So, there’s that.

But, in addition to the relative ease of producing the issue, its real strength is in the quality and range of the work featured in it—from a thirtieth-anniversary retrospective on and excerpt from Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song to Jim Kennedy’s unshakable, heartbreaking essay “End of the Line” (the writer’s first published piece). CNF 39 perfectly bridges the gap between new and established writers—a balance imperative to the longevity of the magazine, and the genre.  

Balance is an important thing. Not just between the old and the new, but between the traditional and the avant-garde. The creative nonfiction genre contains multitudes—it is journalism and poetry, the personal and the universal, the familiar and the strange.

And the strange stuff is my favorite stuff.

Case in point: the experimental work featured in the magazine’s “Pushing the Boundaries” section—in particular, Ayse Papatya Bucak’s “Eight Questions You Would Ask Me If I Told You My Name,” from Issue 39.

The piece is highly relatable—especially if you, too, have an “unusual” name. And, as you’ll see, it’s simultaneously beautiful and smart and unconventional (at least in terms of structure and voice).

And that, I believe, is the beauty of the “Pushing the Boundaries” section. By providing a home for work that the “old” CNF format did not easily accommodate, it allows us to showcase work that truly explores the limits of what the form is capable of. The result— much to our delight—is often a playful and unusual blending of style and substance.

– Stephen Knezovich

About the Author

Stephen Knezovich

Stephen Knezovich is the director of marketing at Creative Nonfiction. He lives in Pittsburgh and is a writer and collage artist. Photo: Anna Hall

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