The Rolf Potts obscure collection: A look at three anthologies
Although the Books page of RolfPotts.com outlines my contributions to a number of literary travel anthologies in recent years, it doesn’t mention my appearance in three small-press fiction anthologies between 1999 and 2002.
This is because, until recently, I never even knew these books existed.
All of the stories in question were originally written when I was in college, including the satirical essay (“Jesus and the Board of Disciples”) that earned me the first $80 of my writing career, when a religious humor magazine called The Door published it in May of 1992. The Door, which is kind like an evangelical Christian version of The Onion, later included this piece in a 2000 anthology entitled On the Eighth Day God Laughed, but I didn’t realize this until last year, when I did a name search A9.com. When I found myself in the Eighth Day table of contents, I contacted Robert Darden, the editor of The Door, who was kind enough to pass along a contributor copy.
I haven’t had quite as much luck in getting a contributor copy of The Best of Pif Magazine: Off-Line, which appeared in 1999 (making it, technically, the first anthology I ever appeared in, since The Best American Travel Writing didn’t debut until the following year). Edited by Camille Renshaw and Richard Luck, it contains short stories by up-and-coming writers, as well as interviews with people like Rick Moody and Aimee Bender. My own contribution to the anthology is Roulette With Donald, a short story that first appeared in my college literary magazine in 1993, and later won Honorable Mention in Pif Magazine‘s 1998 fiction contest. I can’t tell from the website if Pif is still publishing — but considering that the editors won’t answer my emails, I’d reckon they aren’t.
My third fiction anthology appearance is in the fourth edition of the obscure-ish Gen-X anthology In Our Own Words, which was published in 2002. I actually submitted directly to this anthology, and fortunately I got a contrib copy without having to track down the editor. Again, this book features a short-short I wrote in college, Ireland is the Size of West Virginia, which originally appeared online in the Morpo Review.
For me, the interesting thing about re-reading these three anthology outtakes is just how much travel has affected my writing and my worldview in the ensuing years. When I first wrote those stories I didn’t even own a passport, and I feel like I’ve covered a lot of ground (as a writer and a traveler) since then.