In 1998, Tom McKenzie and David Eliot established The Hal Prize contest – originally called Hal Grutzmacher’s Writers Exposé and Photography Jubilee – to celebrate literary creativity.
“Back in 1995, David Eliot and I envisioned the Peninsula Pulse as a mash-up of some of our favorite contemporary publications – The Village Voice, Chicago Reader, Interview, The Onion, The New Yorker,” McKenzie said, “and some more arcane influences – The Grub Street Journal, Saturday Evening Post, zines, chapbooks, artists’ publications. It always seemed right to have works of literature from undiscovered or emerging regional voices create dramatic beats on a page-through of the Pulse. By extension, we began to think up ways to lift up these voices even more.”
Since then, the contest has seen a few changes, including the addition of photography and nonfiction categories. Entrants grew from a handful in the first year to more than 400 submissions for the 2019 contest. And as the contest continues to grow, it’s now time to introduce some big changes.
Peninsula Publishing & Distribution, the parent company of the Pulse, will now publish a yearly literary review: an accomplishment 22 years in the making.
In the fall of 2019, Eliot approached me to discuss the future of The Hal Prize. The contest’s growth was making it unwieldy for the weekly newspaper to handle, especially at such a busy time of year. What options and solutions could we explore? The main goals were to keep The Hal Prize going and tweak the successful elements that were already in place. After some thought, we concluded that a literary magazine best fit our needs.
In August 2020, Peninsula Publishing & Distribution will publish the first volume of its new literary magazine, called 8142 Review. In its first year, 8142 Review will include the winners and honorable mentions of The Hal Prize, judges’ comments and bios. It’s being designed so that we can add further content in the coming years as we discover and establish the voice of this new publication.
“I always felt the contest would be successful when it had some regional acclaim,” McKenzie said. “I think having Ellen Kort, the first poet laureate of Wisconsin, serve as poetry judge was an early watershed moment. I love how it has grown into my favorite issue of the year of the Pulse, and that it will now be its own magazine-style publication. I hope that it gets statewide distribution and establishes itself in relationship to, and in dialogue with, other venerable arts and literary publications in Wisconsin.”
And whence came the title? Simply, it’s the address of the Pulse office. After poring over many title ideas from the Pulse staff to find the perfect option, we found ourselves drawn to the simplicity and rhythm of 8142 Review. Aside from being easy to remember, the address evokes a sense of place for our staff – a place where creatives gather every day and a place where The Hal Prize grew from a contest into a new publication.
Learn more about 8142 Review and The Hal Prize contest on the Door County Pulse Podcast. The episode is out now!