Kate & Sinae, Fortified Journal
Writer Kate Morgan and illustrator/designer Sinae Park produce Fortified Journal, an annual magazine that explores our relationship with food through personal stories.
They describe the writing as ‘unwieldy, enthusiastic, demanding, soft, generous, untidy,’ the result of an open submission process that attracts a wide range of voices and subjects: one minute you’re reading about the origins and meaning of a ragu recipe, the next about Kurt Schwitter’s porridge art created during his escape from Nazi persecution. There’s a sense that the magazine—and its Substack sibling—are the beginning of something very exciting.
Read on to discover the origins, influences and ambitions for this project as issue three goes on sale.
What are you up to this morning?
Sinae: I got up and shared coffee with Alice, who is my flatmate this week. Having managed to resist the temptation to linger and hang out with Sunny, our neighbour’s cat, I walked to a local coffee shop in Norwich to make a plan for the week ahead and edit a poster design I need to send off to a client by today!
Kate: I’ve just had a coffee in the garden while sending out today’s substack newsletter. Tori Sharp, a writer and cook based in Paris, is sharing her food diary with us from Nice this week. I usually work from my flat here in Glasgow, or at the local library.
Describe your desk and your work space.
S: For the last two months my work space has been very mobile. Be it coffee shops, parks, and nifty work desks at other people’s houses while they are on holiday. While I enjoy working from ‘home’, I take myself outside for work in the morning. A change of scene and coffee to measure the concentration time until my legs get numb, coffee done, then I walk out, airpods in, catch up on some podcast episodes or books on Audible (this week, I am listening to ‘Bad Behavior’ by Mary Gaitskil.)
K: I have my desk at a window facing East. There’s lots of green foliage outside, and geraniums inside, so it feels quite private and calm. At the moment I have the anthology ‘Writers Who Love Too Much’, and ‘The Fatalis’ by Lyn Hejinian on the desk.
Which magazine do you first remember?
S: Wawa109, a Korean teen mag. It had tips like how to colour-coordinate socks for school uniforms, personality tests, how to assemble a chocolate cake out of ‘Fruits Sando’ biscuits and pepero and more importantly, at the end of the ‘content’, it had cut-out templates for snacks, cereals, soda drinks, flip phones, which I obsessively collected in a big fat envelope.
K: Copies of Teen Vogue taken on holiday as a teenager. I loved the small format – I just looked it up and they were 6.6 x 9 inches, a good tote-able size I think.
Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
S: Architectural Review December 2021 / January 2022, the Kitchen issue. Each article places an everyday object like Tupperware in political, social and cultural spheres and reflects the change of emotional needs and wants of individuals, touching on the idea of labour, aspiration, desire, etc. Anything very ordinary and slightly neglected because they are too common, often cheap symbolising something ‘bigger’.
K: I would say Mal Journal has been important for me both as a writer and someone who puts together publications. I value the consistency of the form – simple yet plush-feeling, the covers each have specific haptic textures, and lovely illustrations—and how this all works to support rather than hinder the rigorous, intense writing that they are platforming.
Issue three of FJ has a wonderful paean to Ragu by Jennifer Bailey—what would be your equivalent meal?
S: Kate took me to a taco place in Southside in Glasgow for lunch. Their tacos were great but the potatoes were another level. I went back to it twice again during my stay in Glasgow. Apparently they were just boiled, roasted, and deep-fried in oil and seasoned just before serving. Very simple and straightforward yet instantly satisfying and very nourishing!
K: Sinae and I improvised a kind of stew when we were together in Glasgow—onions, lots of greens, butterbeans, parmesan rinds, maybe some tamarind. I think this is the kind of simple yet filling food that I crave most when I’m with friends.
The journal has so many different voices and stories; how do you discover them?
For the print journal we run open call outs for proposals, which we then go through together and select. The works are each edited by us both in conversation with the writers. As our network and reach broadens, we hope to reach writers and readers from different contexts outside our own.
Highlight one story that sums up the magazine.
Rodrigo Vaipraia’s piece Yum Yum, which closes Issue 3, has a lot of qualities that we look for and care about. It’s an ink drawing with text, and is immediate and frank while also being playful and sweet. It’s important to us that the writing that we share in Fortified is accessible and without pretence.
As well as the print magazine you run a substack newsletter. What other plans do you have for FJ?
The Fortified Gazette is our substack newsletter, which each time comes from the home of a different individual. We share in their space and their eating for the week; a kind of food diary. This writing is more immediate, not overly worked. Normally we have someone scheduled every fortnight or so, and this is open to all. We’ve found this is a great way to get direct insight into other people’s kitchens, and also to broaden our audience.
We’re aiming for the print journal to be annual. Going forward, we would like to work to build a more sustainable model, so that Fortified supports itself, and so that we’re able to pay contributors fairly and pay ourselves at some point! That said, we want to maintain an ethos of care in the publication, practicing communication that is respectful of people’s leisure/work time and other responsibilities.
We don’t respond to emails straight away, and we don’t expect anyone else to either! We’re in the process of devising a theme for the next issue (something we haven’t done before), and will launch the call out for pitches in coming months.
What one piece of advice would you offer somebody wanting to launch their own publication?
Collaboration—everything works better if you have a springboard for ideas and aren’t carrying all the weight alone.
What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
S: Alice and I will be going to the river for a swim tomorrow morning before I head back to London followed by breakfast at a cafe in Norwich. Couldn’t think of a better way to start a day.
K: It’s my birthday this week, and I think a Big Night style timballo is on the cards.