Doug Hahn


Sink Review #5

Ruminations on literary HTML Janitorial Services

New Issue, Old Issues…

My friends and former co-editors at Sink Review seem to have a chronic aversion to all things HTML — so I wasn’t surprised to hear they needed help putting up the new issue. After getting my admin privileges back and taking a peek under the hood, I realized that this was going to be a lot more than a few hours’ work. Talk web standards to a poet and you might as well be speaking jabberwocky (don’t worry, I won’t blame you), but I believe the writers on Sink deserve a site that offers basic accessibility and stability.

I’m not going to point fingers or outline the foibles I’ve fixed, but it took quite a while to go through every page and remedy very basic code (if you’re worried the unordered list will contain bullets & can’t check / fix the CSS, you should spend more time in designer school). That said, it was fun working with digital literature again, and I taught myself some new php along the way. The site still needs a few more tweaks; some of them I don’t have patience to fix at the moment (neaten up the CSS and adjust some layout elements), and others involve old and ungainly workarounds with custom field templates that I don’t have time to learn about and solve before AWP.

Future Issues

There aren’t enough journals out there that give a damn about typography, standards, or accessibility. And while it’s getting very difficult to find presses that value print design as an art, there are more online journals than ever before, and too many present their poems poorly (I’m being nice here). I’m of the opinion that, if the literary community is embracing web publishing so passionately, then editors should make it a point to create sites that are as engaging and long-lasting as the content they publish.

Sink, of course, isn’t there quite yet, but reaching basic W3C compliance is a symbolic step in the right direction. There are (as always), plans for the near future: number six will be out this fall, and the editors would like an original redesign. I’ll be glad to tinker with it so long as it’s at my leisure, giving me time to learn and be creative. A custom site would be fantastic, with a focus on typography (similar in spirit to this site), HTML 5, mobile phone and Kindle ready… by the fall we may very well be the most standards-driven and advanced journal around. That would certainly entice me, as a poet, to submit. Until then, enjoy the new issue!

Ideas to add?