Updated: 1:08 p.m., 9/26
“When you submit to Quarto...” began Aliza Polkes, CC ’14, at a meeting held to dispel confusion surrounding the new campus literary magazine, 4x4. She was immediately interrupted by a barrage of shouts from fellow editors, “You mean 4x4!” Polkes quickly apologized and corrected herself but admitted, “I’m going to be Freudian-slipping ‘Quarto’ a lot.”
Polkes spoke to a large group of editors, writers, and fans in Dodge 413 on Tuesday night to announce the new venture, 4x4—pronounced “four by four”—a new but similar Columbia lit mag.
Though the transition—or continuation, as the staff so lovingly refers to it—sounds a bit confusing, co-editors-in-chief Polkes and Sarina Bhandari, CC ’14 and a Spectator opinion columnist, explained the situation as clearly as circumstances could possibly allow.
“The current staff members on 4x4 are actually all members who were on Quarto last year,” Bhandari said.
The creative writing department, which the magazine has been affiliated with and funded by since its inception 60 years ago, has decided to turn Quarto into a class on lit mag publication which publish submissions by giving preference to creative writing majors in the School of General Studies.
"As far as Quarto goes, I am the new faculty advisor for the magazine, but no official decisions or policies have been made regarding the particulars of how it will run this year," Dorothea Lasky, an assistant professor of writing, said in an email. "That being said, I expect Quarto to continue to be the strong, student-run publication that it has always been and I am looking forward to working with students on it."
But Bhandari said the change will hinder the magazine.
“We felt that without Quarto as we knew it, we would be locking out a strong creative writing community focused on all undergraduates,” Bhandari said.
So, the staff decided to create 4x4, a brand new literary magazine modeled after the previous incarnations of Quarto but separate from the creative writing department. Quarto still exists and will be published in the spring as usual, but it will now be run by a professor and creative writing majors.
The magazine’s existing staff from last year have lost their positions in the transition, and so they decided essentially to give themselves a new title—by no coincidence, one which calls back to the staff’s tetric roots—and resume doing more or less the same thing in a new outfit.
“We all got together and discussed this pretty democratically,” staff editor Allen Johnson, CC ’14, said. “All of the ideas about what we would do and what the magazine could and would become were kind of on the table. The creative writing department has given us their blessing for this new venture, and we’re on very good terms with them.”
4x4 faces some obstacles going forward, but its editors are optimistic. Polkes said that confusion around the name switch would probably continue for the foreseeable future and that losing the Quarto brand might make distributing the publication more challenging.
The group will also no longer be funded by the creative writing department and will have to rely on fund-raising in several forms, including donations and a Kickstarter campaign. Eric Wohlstadter, CC ’15, the magazine’s managing editor and The Eye’s fiction editor, said charging for events or for the magazine itself is also a possibility, though advertising is definitely not.
“We believe in the integrity of the words standing by themselves in this publication,” he said.
“The way I see it, Quarto had more ambitions than a department could deal with,” visuals editor Natalie Molina, CC ’14, said. “I’m really excited for everything that Quarto has coming, and I’m also really excited for 4x4. We get to start a new identity.”
4x4 is hosting its first official event, an open mic night, this Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. in Dodge 501. The magazine will also start accepting submissions for its first issue—to be published in the spring—in the next few weeks.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated Natalie Molina's graduating year. Quarto's open mic is also on Saturday night, not Sunday. Spectator regrets the error.