From the Whistler

A Decade

This summer marks the tenth anniversary of Whistling Shade. A decade ago, in the summer of 2001, the first issue of a new literary newspaper began appearing, rather mysteriously, in the racks at certain cafes, book stores and libraries around the Twin Cities. It was called Whistling Shade, and I explained the title in the very first “From the Whistler” column:


I believe I was drunk when I thought it up—I was mus­ing on modern American culture, now dominated by television sitcoms, Hollywood films, rock concerts. Yet the older, more imaginative art forms remain. How many of us, after all, haven’t written a poem, and at least thought about writing a story or novel? And there are odd moments, at parties and such, when we still talk about Chekhov and Sappho, even if we haven’t read them. The word well spoken, the story well told, still allure us—they live in the back of our minds, like some whistling ghost or shade, muttering deeper meanings about our everyday world.


I thought I would publish two or three issues and see if there was any reaction. It didn’t exactly make the evening news, but the submissions began pouring in, and also letters of encouragement. What started as an experiment became a hobby, and then a business. Now I can’t imagine my life without the Shade; even though I currently live across town from Holly­wood, I’m still drawn to the discovery and the thrill of publish­ing fine literary work for the first time.

As a fitting tribute to our ten years of literary publishing, this issue presents ten obscure masterpieces discovered by our staff and contributors. Speaking of which ... those ten years of publication would not have been possible without the talents of our staff and columnists: Sten Johnson, Dylan Garcia-Wahl, Deanna Reiter, Rhonda Niola, Tony Telschow, Iris Key, Beadrin Youngdahl, Lauren Bartel, Mike Ramberg, Billy Graves, Suzanne Nielsen and Justin Teerlinck. Thanks also to regular contributors such as Hugh Mahoney, Daniel Gabriel, Tony Rauch, John-Ivan Palmer, Sharon Chmielarz, Jarda Cervenka, Curtis West and Jeff Vande Zande.

As for the future—the tavern is still open, and we’re not even close to last call yet. Ten years, after all, is not so very long a time...

- Joel Van Valin