Anaïs La Rocca, Litt
Published from the upstate New York town of Callicoon, new literary magazine Litt offers a beautifully art directed read. An immediate attraction is the match that can be ignited on the magazine’s strikable spine. We spoke to editor Anaïs La Rocca about the origins of the magazine.
Anais is a writer and award-winning film director, and lives in Callicoon alongside senior editor Mariana Barrera Pieck, Rachel Littman of Litt Home & Book (the local bookshop), and art director Pablo Declan. She shares her inspirations and reveals the meaning of the egg on the magazine’s front cover as she shares her working week.
What are you doing this morning?
I’m a mom, so Mondays feel like the start to the weekend—only after convincing my kids to wear clothes, negotiating the stipulated amount of maple syrup on their breakfast, and dropping them off at school. October in upstate New York is cinematic. The trees shed leaves on us like confetti–like driving through a big budget car commercial—you know the one. On my way home, I listen to NPR, visit a drive-thru Dunkin’ Donuts, and then listen to Calm Down (with Selena Gomez & Rema) on repeat, to forget about the news.
Back home, I use a leaf blower to clear a path through my kids’ toys to my cozy chair, where I remind myself what day it is, answer emails, and make a mental checklist of to-do’s.
I bounce around the house before ending up in my home office, where I sit down at my large 1960s red diner table (desk?) and begin to “work”. Today, I am developing a film treatment and organizing for the decond issue of Litt. If I have a quiet moment, I’ll also write for myself.
What can you see from your desk/ through the window?
Across from me is a green velvet couch under a large picture window. Through it, blue skies with Pixar puffy clouds, rolling hills, the seasons changing, a herd of deer, nature’s unkempt beauty, a tie-dyed beach towel that blew off the clothesline, and the Delcan & Co. design studio—a large white barn that says THIS PLACE.
Which magazine do you first remember?
An Italian magazine, Oggi. And specifically, issue #28, from September 20th, 1962. Enormous red type at the top, the same red as Mariyln Monroe’s lips in the cover photo. These colors—the lime green text box, the soft pink of her shirt—became part of my DNA.
I found this magazine when I was a teen. Porta Portese is an incredible flea market in Rome where my family deals in antiques—everything from paintings, to pearls, to mismatched silverware from the 1800s. This is where I first found magazines I could fall in love with. The rest of my life would forever be doomed to the addiction of digging through flea market rubble, yard sales, and grandmothers’ attics looking for more.
Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
I am reading the latest issue of Granta, ‘Last Notes’. The stories are collected from across the world: Kahrkiv, Cairo, London, and even from Lydia Davis in upstate New York. This issue matters most to me this morning because the collection is allowing me a way “into” the rest of the world. It is reminding me that even through unspeakable times, sharing words is a force for good and unity.
Describe Litt in three words.
Local. Diverse. Igniting.
What was the inspiration for launching a literary magazine now?
Litt was inspired by the rich art and ideas we found in the unexpected corners of upstate New York—a place some might call ‘the middle of nowhere’. Here, somewhere, in the hamlet of Callicoon, Litt was created: a literary magazine that lifts a glass to stories from the outposts we often overlook.
There is a vibrant creative community here. Our first issue was editorially spearheaded by me, our senior editor Mariana Barrera Pieck, and Rachel Littman of Litt Home & Book (our local bookshop), as well as art directed and published by Delcan & Co.
We love the match and strikable spine, and its visual reference to ‘Litt’. But why the photograph of an egg on the cover?
You’re not the first to ask about the egg! It seems to beg for an explanation. Ok, so here’s mine: The egg is a darkly beautiful photo by local photographer, Noah Kalina. It symbolizes a beginning, and I personally found it befitting because there is something alive under its surface, a pulse you can’t see—and that is true for all good literature and art. But let's not overcomplicate it. If you’re from upstate New York, you’ll know we have a soft spot for chickens. And their eggs. It’s just... our quirky hallmark. Please direct all other egg questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Moving beyond the fabulous visuals, Litt is a magazine of words. Tell us about them—what is the magazine’s remit?
Litt focuses on writing and art from unique and unconventional sources. We publish all forms of literature–poetry, fiction, nonfiction and will venture in our next issue to include lyrics, play monologues or soliloquies, and short film screenplays. Litt looks to publish diverse voices and stories that are deeply human, personal and intimate. We also value experimental writing and risk taking, and characters that surprise us. Each issue will be themed, which will further define the tone and curation of each issue. We focus on writers from our region, but also leave room for contributors from other outposts, and corners of the world.
The first issue sets the tone with a variety of voices. We have a very special interview with the legendary sculptor Frosty Myers and his wife Debra Arch Myers who pioneered the 70s Soho art scene along side Warhol, Novros and Raushenburg. Frosty is also known for putting the first art on the moon. We’ve included a never before published surrealist poem by Hampton Fancher, the co-director and writer of "Blade Runner", and a powerful essay by Sari Botton which vibrantly paints a picture of hot flashes, and the stigmatism women face.
The fabulous visuals and art direction are thanks to Pablo Delcan and our visual artist contributors. We’ve collaborated with remarkable artists including Nicole Rifkin, Najeebah Al-Ghadban, and Vanessa Saba, to name a few.
What one piece of advice do you have for someone launching their own magazine?
There will be moments when you’re building the airplane as you’re flying it. Don’t look down!
What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
My Method Writing workshop on Thursday with Jack Grapes.