Big Changes Afoot at Okey-Panky
After two years of curating delightfully strange, funny, and obscure writings at Okey-Panky, J. Robert Lennon is stepping down as Okey-Panky’s Editor-in-Chief to focus on his next novel.
Electric Literature will continue to publish the literary oddities that Okey-Panky championed as a biweekly Monday supplement edition to Recommended Reading, and as occasional special features on Electric Literature. With the support of the New York State Council on the Arts, the RR Monday commuter edition will include poetry, graphic narratives, and prose of under 1,500 words, and will be the first major expansion of Recommended Reading since it launched in 2012. The first issue, “Bigfoot on the Beach” by NPR’s Invisibilia co-host Lulu Miller, will publish on New Year’s Day 2018.
Over two years, Okey-Panky published authors such as Padgett Powell, Chris Offutt, and Kashana Cauley, and earned a place in Best American Comics 2016 for “The Swim” by Anne Emond. Lennon is equally proud of the fact that half of what the magazine published came from unsolicited submissions. “OP had the best slush pile of any magazine I’ve ever worked on — I couldn’t believe the amount of great writing we received,” he said. “The magazine renewed my faith in new writers and writing, and it was fun to edit, too.” Electric Literature will continue this tradition by holding open submission periods for the Recommended Reading Commuter.
Okey-Panky’s poetry editor Ed Skoog, fiction editor Rhian Ellis, and comics editor Sara Lautman will continue to offer support to the new incarnation of the magazine, which will be led by Recommended Reading’s editorial staff. Electric Literature editor in chief Jess Zimmerman will assume the duties of Okey-Panky’s nonfiction editor Alice Bolin, whose book of essays Dead Girl is forthcoming from HarperCollins in 2018. “Alice Bolin was a superb nonfiction editor, and I’m delighted that Rhian, Ed Skoog, and Sara Lautman will continue to bring some of that OP mojo to Recommended Reading,” said Lennon. “These people are my friends and some of the smartest, most talented writers and editors I know, and it has been an honor to work with them on Okey-Panky.”
While the often perplexing name Okey-Panky will be retired, its whimsical and idiosyncratic spirit lives on.
UPDATE: The new editor of The Commuter is Kelly Luce.