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New Wichita literary journal draws on its editor’s love for gritty, urban fiction

Introducing the 2019 #ReadICT Challenge

Suzanne Tobias explains the third annual #ReadICT Challenge, a partnership with the Wichita Public Library.
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Suzanne Tobias explains the third annual #ReadICT Challenge, a partnership with the Wichita Public Library.

Volume 1, Issue 1 of a new Wichita literary magazine has hit the shelves of Watermark Books.

Vautrin — named after Honoré de Balzac’s criminal mastermind character — draws on publisher and editor Todd Robins’s love for gritty, urban fiction and mystery and crime fiction.

“Those are the types of fiction that I’m into, so the magazine is sort of a combination of those elements,” Robins said.

“It was just an idea that came to me.”

Robins, an Ellinwood native and Watermark employee, collected poems, essays and novel excerpts from a diverse cast of writers.

“It’s a Wichita magazine to the extent that inevitably, I will get more submissions from Wichita writers . . . but ultimately, the magazine is going to look to expand outward,” Robins said.

Issue 1 of Vautrin features fiction from award-winning Toronto-based writer Sylvia Warsh and a novel excerpt from Thomas Pluck of New Jersey. On the local side, Albert Goldbarth, the only poet to win the National Book Critics Circle award twice, has poetry published.

One submission Robins said he’s particularly excited about came from another Wichitan, Scott Phillips.

“Scott Phillips is a great writer, and he has an excellent novel excerpt featuring his character Bill Ogden from his comic novels of the American West, ‘Cottonwood’ and ‘Hop Alley,’” Robins said.

Acclaimed writers and poets are in no short supply, but Vautrin’s inaugural issue also features debut poetry.

“I want to sort of cultivate talent while also publishing established writers,” Robins said.

He now is accepting submissions for Issue 2, which will be published this fall. Submissions addressed to Robins can be mailed to 3418 E. English St, Wichita KS 67218.

Vautrin is print-only, and Robins said he has little interest in a website. He plans to publish “a varying number of times a year.”

Vautrin is available at Watermark, where it costs $10.99. Robins said he hopes to expand soon to stores in Lawrence and Kansas City.

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