THE STORY AND VISION BEHIND RANTOUL
In the autumn of 2017 a group of friends who lived north of Boston and who all graduated from the same college were feeling restless. Aimless. To be frank, we were bored. A few of us who lived together had already started something called "Effortists:" a sort-of private lit mag. It's difficult to explain what it was. But it was not open to the public. Some of the others were looking for a more public way to exhibit their writings—be it a short story, a set of poems, or an essay. We wanted a way to do it on our own terms. So in October of that year that idea happened. It was called "Rantoul Magazine." Named after a beat-up street full of townie bars and auto shops in Beverly, Mass.
The idea was simple. New writings every week. No matter what. Consistency was the name of the game. We called these weekly postings "Thursday Shit." Later on we added artists to the mix by having their artwork paired with the writings.
Since then Rantoul has expanded in both its reach and its vision. Our readership and circle of contributors has grown. The focus still remains on writers and artists from the Boston area, but we now publish work from people across the U.S. (even sometimes from around the world).
With this expanded reach has come a larger vision. The first part of that vision is an obvious one. To double-down on publishing quality work: artwork that is rousing, essays that are compelling, and stories that are captivating. Output that people across the board are excited to view and read.
The other part is to start making more of a presence in Boston. How this'll happen is hazy. It could involve more public events. Or, an actually physical presence in one of the local art stores. As of now we only sell a printed edition of selected work from Rantoul's first year. But that could change.
Of course we're still very much finding our way. We were originally publishing new work every week, but that proved to be exhausting and unsustainable. So the cadence was switched to monthly. Though one thing that has never changed is the day of publication. It's always been on a Thursday and will probably always be so. The day feels almost sacrosanct at this point.
And we cannot tell you the number of permutations this website has been forced to endure. That's how it goes when it comes to website building. But dear god it is patently Sisyphean.
This is all to say that Rantoul as a magazine and as an idea will keep changing. As it has from the beginning. Its future is still up in the air. It could collapse tomorrow. Who knows. But maybe that's the fun of it: to see where the hell this thing'll go.