Wearing words for a week

A literary journal’s method of spreading stories, poems

Marlena Chertock, Editor-in-Chief of The Writers’ Bloc

Dylan with a poem pinned to his back. Photo courtesy of Dylan Bargteil.

Dylan Bargteil, a Writers’ House alumnus and now a physics student at NYU, once wore someone else’s story on his back for a week. He wore it grocery shopping, he wore it while he napped.

For a week, Bargteil was an operative for the Safety Pin Review.

The literary journal asks for fiction/poetry/words of no more than 30 words and paints accepted submissions on a 9″x11″ patch. Bargteil’s patch was Issue 36, written by Brandi Wells.

We step back and watch our lives and are really quite bored. Let’s not do that again, she says. Yes, I say. It was really, really boring.

“I’ve been interested in alternate methods of art distribution for awhile, so it was right up my alley,” Bargteil said.

“What surprised me most was how unconscious I was about it,” he said. “No one ever said anything to me about how I was wearing a story on my back, even at school. The only thing that was different was occasionally Colleen (his girlfriend) would lean over and tell me, ‘That guy in the hoodie on the bench behind you is reading it,’ while we were on the subway.”

Bargteil is glad people read the story on his back. “I’m glad people apparently took it as a normal thing to do, because I feel like it should be a normal thing to do,” he said. “I think it distorts the public’s relationship with art when you have to pick up a collection of papers bound in thick, hard book board, or when you have to walk through some massive facade of a museum in order to experience art. There’s a whole ritual involved there in which you open yourself up and prepare yourself to have a meaningful or transcendent experience.”

But art is mundane, according to Bargteil. It shouldn’t be out of reach and sanctified.

“Everyone should be able to feel like they can get muddy and create,” he said. “And hopefully everyone should also be ready to open up and feel like they’re finding meaning every day in any kind of place.”

The Safety Pin Review’s method of sharing submissions, poetry, and stories with others really speaks to Bargteil and his belief of finding meaning and art everywhere. “I feel like projects like these do a lot to help develop the public’s relationship with art into something that’s more than academic.”

Bargteil recommends becoming an operative for Safety Pin Review if you get excited about these ideas, art distribution, or wearing someone else’s thoughts and words.

If you want to become an operative or submit your own 30-word poem or story, send it to [email protected].