In her foreword to Make X: A Decade of Literary Art, a collection of work from the influential Chicago literary magazine Make, Eula Biss compares modern publishing to a gift economy, one where essays and poems are exchanged not for legal tender but for “the life-sustaining conversation that is the unfolding of literature.” It’s a fitting way to open the anthology, culled from 16 issues of a journal launched in a Logan Square apartment with the intention of cataloging Chicago’s disparate literary communities.
Since its 2004 conception by writers Sarah Dodson, Ramsin Canon, and Mike Zapata, Make has grown from a local zine to a global publication. Composed of 79 selections and edited by an all-volunteer staff, Make X sets hometown lights like Joe Meno and Lauren Berlant alongside national heavyweights like Maggie Nelson. Little-known poets share space with visual artists from Houston to Mexico City. The book even includes translations from Spanish, Slovene, and Arabic, an homage to Make’s bilingual issue.
But mostly, the anthology is an ode to Chicago’s oft-overlooked literary underground: a place where poets, illustrators, photographers, and the like rub elbows and swap ideas.