Call For Submissions To Cirque

Contributed by Jerry McDonnell

The written word in the age of technology is not dead. The written word lives and holds ground. Small presses abound and grow. Even successful well-known writers submit works to small presses, as do new and unknown voices seeking exposure. 

Small screens and big screens and screens that travel in our pockets have not diminished the written word, but have enhanced the means of delivery. Publishing the written word and images in hard copy has also benefited from technology by drifting us away from the printing presses and darkrooms of yore with print on demand and pathways to self-publication without exploitation.  

Cirque is just such a journal, available in print and online at Cirque benefits from new technology to keep costs down. An independent journal, Cirque is staffed by volunteers, publishing twice yearly. Writers and artists of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska can be found in the pages of Cirque. 

In today’s world, writers persist in honing their craft and offering their perceptions to readers.

These readers seek something more than sound bites, headlines and patronizing themes. In this modern world, it is inspiring to find a hard copy journal such as Cirque, a journal that is also available online, a journal that publishes photography, art, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, interviews, reviews and short plays. Cirque, a colorful literary journal, is just that, inspiring. 

I say this undisguised as I, now of Deming, WA after 27 years in Alaska, am one of the fiction editors and the drama editor of Cirque. The journal has been growing in fame among the small presses since its inception in 2009. The quality of submissions and many to be discovered talents has held me to this volunteer post.

Cirque was founded by Mike Burwell, a published poet and a former poetry instructor at the University of Alaska, Anchorage who now lives in Taos, New Mexico. Sandy Kleven, also a published poet of Anchorage, Alaska, an alumnus of Western Washington U. is the co-editor and host of the launches of each biannual edition where writers read their works to an audience.

One launch of the last edition was held at Mount Baker Theater in Bellingham on August 28, 2016 after a launch in Bothell and previous launches in Anchorage, Alaska and Seward, Alaska. 

Fiction can enlighten, shock, instruct, be dramatic or comedic or entertain. Judi Nyerges, of Whidbey Island, an alumnus of Bothell High School and U. of Washington and subsequent art teacher covers more than one of those bases with her short story, The Boat, the Goat and the Oldest Living Virgin in America. From Cirque, VOL.8 NO. 1: 

“I wanted to be an actress . . . ran off to the Big City to pursue my dream, it made no difference the big city was only twenty-five miles down the road. I threw myself headlong into the study of the “Thea-tuh.” Oh, Lordy, it was glorious. I reveled in the smell of musty old costumes, melted horsehide glue, and greasepaint.”

What follows is a hilarious journey beginning with her transformation into an actress in demand after dying her hair blond and playing vamp parts and her disastrous final performance with a cast of misfits and a goat on a sinking boat docked on the waters off Seattle. “About me, one reviewer said, “As for her singing, the best part of her entrances were her exits.” I never made it as an actor. But then neither, I’m sure, did the goat.” Nyerges’s writing is lively, clever and a full house of well presented characters that gallop the plot full speed to the curtain.

Poetry is offered from different voices, some heavy on cryptic images, but those few words condensed just so serve a full meal, a banquet of less is more. Consider Frank Soos’, a previous Alaska State Writer Laureate, straightforward verse, January Light, from Cirque VOL 8, NO. 1:

“We come here expecting to find the witch’s house, don’t we? These are the woods of a dark winter’s day, haunted woods. There is something down in our limbic brains that says beware, that says we don’t have many friends out in the trees, that folks who live among them are only those we’ve cast out. It just goes to show how wrong we can be. Maybe if we ask real nice, those in hiding would come out and share their secrets with us. The woods might enfold us once again. Maybe we would learn something.”

Yes, technology is here to stay and we all benefit from it. But the written word preceded the icon and apps on screens, and if the plug is ever pulled on advanced technology, I would bet the written word will remain alive and well. The book in hand is handy and portable no matter the distance of that electrical outlet or the life of a battery.    

Although writers submitting to Cirque are limited to those who live in the region, the subject matter is not limited to a regional setting or theme. The goal of Cirque is to share the best writing of the region to the rest of the world. 

For readers looking for a good read or writers looking for markets go to and view and/or buy a copy and find something to enjoy. Maybe you have some words to share.