How You Can Help
Isn't this obvious? At it's heart, the VOiCE has always been and will always be a printed publication. And if no one reads it, then there's no point in any of us expending so much time and money creating and distributing it.
Be an engaging/critical/active reader: don't just read it from cover to cover, like you would flip through a Cosmo magazine. Each page has been crafted with the naked works of human hearts and minds. Just because a poem only takes you five seconds to read, doesn't mean it only takes five seconds to appreciate. While you're reading, close your eyes and imagine what it is the poet or artist is trying to convey... how does it speak to you?
Not every piece will. You know the saying about, "You can please all of the people some of the time, or some of the people all the time"? Well, The VOiCE definitely falls in the former category. I try to put something in for everyone, and that invariably means that somebody is going to be happy and someone is going to be upset. Get over it. More importantly, examine the piece that disturbs or reviles you. Ask yourself why? Art is supposed to make you feel and think-- and grow. Not preach to the converted.
You've read it, you like it, and you'd like to help? As the saying goes... "put your money where your mouth is." Like it or not everything costs money. Printing costs, postage costs, Web site costs, all these costs add up to money, money, money. By subscribing you support and become a part of the VOiCE in an important and symbolic way. Not to mention the added bonus of not having to go searching for a VOiCE in your local area (which can be a bit unreliable) you get the convenience of having it show up at your doorstep!
The other part of being a subscriber is that you'll start building up a collection. Don't throw your old VOiCEs away or store them away in some dark and dusty box! Old VOiCE issues are great conversation starters and fit well on coffee tables in any living room. If you don't want to hold onto them anymore, give them away, pass them on to a friend (especially one you know to be an artist/writer), or set them in your favorite coffee shop, independent music/book store, library, hangout, etc... You multiply the reach of the VOiCE everytime a single issue makes contact with more than one set of eyes.
Though, technically not a charity (because of the huge amount of paperwork I'd have to fill out in order to become a legal non-profit entity), that doesn't mean that the VOiCE is not worthy of charitable donations. A donation of $100 or more will make you a VOiCE Benefactor, and for a donation of $250 you will get a lifetime subscription to the VOiCE. As the VOiCE grows, I will inevitably have to start looking for commercial support in the form of advertisements. Generous donations of this sort will help me put this off as long as possible.
No publication is worth anything without a good distribution network. I rely on volunteers to be that network for me. If you're interested in being a distributor for your city or area, contact me, and I will send you a stack of VOiCEs to distribute. The best places I've found to distribute the VOiCE are independent coffee shops (as opposed to Starbucks, etc..) and independent book stores, and of course, poetry readings. Anyone can be a distributor, you just need access to a photocopier. Make as many copies as you want, just make sure that you copy the entire issue. Copying only a section of the VOiCE is a violation of the copyright agreement.
Since it's first inception, the most important goal for me was to cram as many different contributors representing as many different styles of creative art and writing as possible. Diversity is the key, Cliche is the enemy. I'm constantly on the look out for those artists/writers who are pushing boundaries and breaking new ground. This means you! I've refused to let the VOiCE become another one of those publications where only "certain" people are ever considered for print, and everyone else is ignored.
I encourage you to stretch yourself and your creative experience. Please understand that there are hundreds of people sending me things to publish every month, and for me to select yours it has to stand out from the stack. Honesty, creativity, moving, powerful, striking, original... these are the elements I look for. And please don't take any rejection by the VOiCE as meaning anything other than that particular work just wasn't suited for that particular issue. In my dreams, I want everyone to be expressing themselves with pen, pencil, and brush. Never give up your forms of expression, as they will only get better with extended and focussed use.
Also understand that the VOiCE is not theme or sub-culture oriented. I may print a hippie poem or a goth poem, but the VOiCE will never be a hippie or goth publication. Occasionally a particular VOiCE issu may have a theme, but this is usually more of an afterthought than anything planned. So don't bother asking me what the theme for the next issue is, because I probably won't know until after the issue is finished.