Within the brackets


The art of writing takes vision, creativity and an armor of steel to withstand spears of criticism. Then come sleepless nights, drafts upon drafts of tweaks and changes until the written piece holds grandeur enough for submission to a literary magazine.

Thomas Karst, UNF English alumnus, practices this art. And UNF’s literary journal, Fiction Fix, awarded him the Editor’s Choice Award for his piece, “[   ]” in its 8th and most recent issue.

No, you haven’t read wrongly. His piece is in fact titled with square brackets and blank space. The rest of the piece reads with similar surprises.

“Thomas’ entry was quite exceptional,” said Fiction Fix’s editor in chief April Bacon. “His experimental style of writing really sticks out.”

In Karst’s story, the narration shifts from third-person to first-person with the main character narrating. A change in word placement on the page marks this change in narrators. The piece begins with regularly aligned sentences and flows into words languidly dispersed over the spread.

“I especially love when the words make the image of a handprint,” Bacon said. “It’s like a human is able to make a mark in the world with writing.”

Mark Ari, Fiction Fix’s adviser and a UNF creative writing professor, said Karst focuses on font type, size, word placement, spaces in between words and white space on the page when creating this text art.

Karst said his Image and Text class ignited this piece.

“There’s a lot that text can do; it’s a good medium to express oneself.”

Also recognized in 2009 by Fiction Fix with a Reader’s Choice award, Karst wishes to pursue writing in the future. He plans on coming to UNF this fall for grad school.

“It wasn’t just the compliments but really the criticism that helped me grow,” Karst said. “I am thankful Mark Ari introduced me to Fiction Fix.”

Fiction Fix, originally an idea sparked in Ari’s writing workshop class in 2002, now accepts submissions nationally and internationally. The journal publishes original work twice a year and can be found online at fictionfix.net.

“We are always very excited to see UNF students submitting, but that doesn’t mean their entries get any kind of special treatment,” Ari said. “Our editors and readers only select pieces worth the recognition.”

All submitted work is eligible for the Editor’s Choice Award. The pieces need to capture the reader’s attention and be unique for publication, Bacon said.

If you wish to submit to an upcoming issue of Fiction Fix, visit fictionfix.net for details.