- New Ink
The Rumpus, an eclectic online daily culture magazine, is one provocative publication. In and by design, The Rumpus is clever, sometimes playful, and always prodding. Aesthetically, the magazine looks sharp and inviting. Readers can easily navigate the magazine’s excellent layout and fast-load comics, arts reviews and interviews, various thoughtful essays, and more. The magazine also serves up often gut-punch columns from such regular contributors as Steve Almond, Sari Botton, Antonia Crane, Roxane Gay, and Rick Moody. Content wise, The Rumpus champions well-written, original writing that zeroes in on matters of cultural meaning. The magazine is dedicated to filling the void left by other news and pop culture-centered publications and largely devotes itself to the taboo, marginalized, inconvenient, and the all-too-often overlooked.
The Rumpus is home to the wildly popular Dear Sugar advice column. To give a sense of just how popular, fifteen hundred readers posted Sugar’s May edition direct from the magazine to Facebook. Long anonymous, we now know the identity of beloved Sugar. Sugar is Cheryl Strayed, author of the New York Times number one bestselling memoir, Wild (2012). Much to the delight of Strayed’s huge and growing following, in July, she published Tiny Beautiful Things (2012), a “best of” collection from her Dear Sugar column. The heartfelt and often heart-wrenching Dear Sugar series seems representative of the core of The Rumpus: taps into our humanity, shines light on our predicaments, offers ways to fill the voids, and is both empathetic and hard-hitting.
Roxane Gay is a regular Rumpus contributor and the magazine’s Essays Editor. Six-hundred and forty-five readers posted Gay’s August 3, 2012 article on writers of color entitled, “We Are Many. We Are Everwhere.” direct from the magazine to Facebook, and 230 readers also tweeted the essay link. As with so much of the writing in The Rumpus, Gay’s contributions often raise hard truths and inconvenient subject matter to illuminate, raise awareness, and call for solutions. As is typical for the magazine, Gay’s “We Are Many. We Are Everywhere.” article also generated a lively exchange in the discussion thread that at last count totaled sixty-nine comments. Similarly powerful, Antonia Crane’s regular column on the sex industry gives voice to sex workers’ stories and agitates for sex workers’ rights. The column always generates a big response and often discomforts and disturbs readers. It is clear that Crane’s intention isn’t shock value, though, but to give perspective, challenge assumptions, and dispel shame. Crane’s passion and her insistence that readers not look away again seem representative of The Rumpus as a whole.
The Rumpus appears to be a fluid publication, ever evolving to meet the turns of its wild imagination and the needs of its diverse and growing readership. Some of the magazine’s recent brainchildren include “Letters in the Mail” and “Letters for Kids.” Almost every week, subscribers to “Letters in the Mail” receive, well, a letter in the mail. Letter writers include such luminaries as Margaret Cho, Marie Calloway, Dave Eggers, Nick Flynn, Lidia Yuknavitch, Aimee Bender, Padma Viswanathan, Wendy MacNaughton, and Matthew Zapruder. Some of the letters are typed, others handwritten. Some include illustrations (one thus far was a comic), and all are signed, photocopied, and dispatched with what appears to be a whole lot of love.
The Rumpus also offers Book Club. For $25 a month ($35 for international), members receive an as-yet unreleased book in the mail every month. At the end of the month, members are invited to participate in a moderated online discussion with the author that is then published on The Rumpus. Members can also write a review of the book, and the magazine will run the best-written review(s) on the website. Alternatively, members are not required to participate in the discussion or review the book and can simply subscribe to receive a new, yet-to-be published book every month. Because of the success of Book Club, the magazine has also introduced a Poetry Book Club.
Editor-in-Chief Stephen Elliott...