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By Ron Gaskill, Editor

I put jerseyworks on the Web in August of 2001 because I had been thinking for a while that a literary publishing vacuum existed in South Jersey. Two college lit magazines and Shirley Lake's Still Waters Press, publisher of an excellent series of chapbooks, were the only games in town. Coincidentally, while considering the possibility of starting a magazine, I was learning web design from the ground up, HTML one tag at a time from the best of all web tutorials, that of the Australian Ron Woolley. Woolley's insistence on step-by-step learning, writing one's first pages on a simple text editor like Word Pad as opposed to taking any design-it-for-you shortcuts, was what set the tone for jerseyworks. Two years later, with over 9000 readers and 40,000 pages viewed, I'm still writing each page in my own basic HTML, with just a bit of JavaScript, and I've applied two concepts from the start: Keep the Web experience simple and beautiful, and maintain quality content. I thought that if I could design good-looking pages, then good writers would want to be on them.

From the beginning, jerseyworks has been South Jersey in appearance, with photography that emphasizes the shore, but with no geography of intellectual content. Our contributors come from all over the U.S. The magazine opened with the work of a few writers that I knew, the poets Marylisa DeDomenicis and Shirley Lake, and fiction writer Sterling Brown. I'm indebted to them for giving me their strong stuff as a launching pad. I had a good start, but my concern was where the next material was going to come from. I wasn't going to bring down the quality just so I could have a magazine. Fortunately, the number of both readers and contributors has grown every day from the first day on. I've put a call for manuscripts about once a year in Poets and Writers, but aside from that I believe the growth has been due mostly to word of mouth, so to speak—or word of email, although now a number of hits are coming from Google.

We have remained a small and personally-funded operation; aside from myself as editor and designer, two other people are involved. Susan Cavanaugh, winner of several poetry awards, is a consulting editor, and Bernard Sypniewski, a programmer and computer science professor among many other things, has provided much assistance.

We like to believe that our literary tastes are eclectic, free of particular schools, and dependent only on quality, that fine blend of craft, soul, and idea. We also know that this cannot be entirely true, since we are limited by our own vision. We want to publish material that has something to say about the human condition, but we're lovers of words and images, too. In the future, we would like to publish more photography and make the web experience a bit more fluid without getting flashy. On the literary side, jerseyworks now receives the work of writers with prizes and strong resumes, but we still read and consider everything that comes our way.