A Farewell Note, or How to Get Lost in the Woods

In the two and a half years that I’ve been editing Tiny Donkey, I’ve never written about my favorite fairy tale. It’s a lesser known story from the Brothers Grimm (although, as fairy tale enthusiasts, you probably know it!) called “Fitcher’s Bird,” about a young heroine who outwits an evil sorcerer and saves her sisters in the process.

One thing I love about “Fitcher’s Bird”–something that Pauline Greenhill writes about in “Fitcher’s [Queer] Bird: A Fairy-Tale Heroine and Her Avatars”–is that the story doesn’t have a Disney-perfect ending. The heroine doesn’t marry a prince, inherit a kingdom, or even return to a simple-but-cozy cottage to live out the rest of her days. Instead, as Greenhill writes, “There is no happily-ever-after in ‘Fitcher’s Bird,’ the tale ends with the death of [femicidal sorcerer] Fitcher and his cronies. [Heroine] Fitcher’s Bird is last seen on the path from Fitcher’s house, speaking to the sorcerer, again a truly liminal location.” There’s something freeing about this ending and it’s refusal to be tied up in a happily-ever-after bow–something that allows for multiple possibilities and paths.

When we started Tiny Donkey in April 2015, it felt like we were beginning from that unknown place in the woods. With the blessing of Fairy Tale Review’s founding editor Kate Bernheimer and the help of then-prose editor Joel Hans, we started this journal with the question, “What is fairy-tale nonfiction?” Over the next two and a half years, we published fairy-tale-esque memoir, cultural criticism, academic analyses, and experimental prose in attempts to find answers. We accompanied this work with interviews of our favorite fairy-tale writers and thinkers, from Carmen Maria Machado to Aaron Mahnke to Kate Bernheimer herself.

We still don’t have an answer to our query, but we have lots of ideas of what fairy-tale nonfiction can be. In so many ways, we’re still in the middle of that enchanted forest–except, instead of just a few of us editors, these woods are now crowded with our contributors and readers, our supporters and interviewees. It’s nice here–overgrown and full of chirping birds, scurrying animals, and unknown prospects and potentials.

And this, dear reader, is where we’ll leave you.

We’re ending Tiny Donkey for one of those usual reasons: not enough capacity. Over the past few years we’ve all grown and changed as writers, editors, and humans, and other projects have started consuming our time and energy. For example:

    • Former editor Richard Leis continues to read, write, and submit poetry and fiction, and participates in workshops at the Writers Studio Tucson and the University of Arizona Poetry Center. Leis recently won the Writers Studio’s Write-to-Read award and read his poem “These Are the Animals You May Eat” at Tucson’s Antigone Books.
    • Editor Anna Lea Jancewicz’s short story collection (m)otherhood is forthcoming this autumn from Widow and Orphan House Press, and she continues her work as Editor-in-Chief of Rabble Lit, a journal of working class literature that you should definitely check out, if you haven’t already.
    • Editor René Ostberg has been writing but experiencing a year of full rejection.  On the plus side, she recently moved and now lives across the street from a river with a railroad tracks close by. She enjoys watching the river rise and recede from week to week and listening to the traffic and trains roll by at night – it brings comfort and perspective in distressing times. She might self-publish something called Heartlandic by year’s end – check in on her at her website for updates if you like.
    • Editorial assistant Gabriel A. Jiménez is at work on a collection of short stories, and will soon be applying to graduate programs. His long-term goal is to become a literature professor.
    • Editorial assistant Cat Solewin is editing a local author’s memoir manuscript and is an editor at Rain Shadow Review, an annual anthology of writing from current and formerly incarcerated writers put together by Richard Shelton and Erec Toso. Cat will be graduating from the University of Arizona in Fall 2018 and applying to Creative Writing MFA programs to further develop her fiction writing.
    • In July, I began working at the University of Arizona Poetry Center as the Education Programs Assistant, a job that enables me to combine my interests in social justice, education, and creative writing.

The Tiny Donkey archive and the work it contains will remain online for future readers. We are indebted to all the writers and interviewees who contributed to this project and to Fairy Tale Review’s Kate Bernheimer, Joel Hans, and Jon Riccio, who so graciously made space for this journal in the world.

–Wren Awry, Founding Editor