“We’re interested in creating sensations.” – Raleigh Quarterly

RALEIGH, N.C. — A foursome of diverse creative talents are uniting in the capital city to take on Apple’s Steve Jobs and anyone else who believes the digital age means the death of reading.

Seeking to capitalize on the writing as well as artistic and music skills they see in Raleigh and the Triangle, the quartet is launching The Raleigh Quarterly. The publicatio nwas unveiled Saturday night at a party in Raleigh’s “Morning Times” café and will be published in print form beginning this fall in partnership with self-publishing house Lulu.com.

“We want to show the world that Raleigh is a creative hub,” Billy Warden, co-editor of the quarterly and a public relations executive in the Triangle, told WRAL.com.

“We want to do two things: Help build a vibrant creative community here in the Triangle and help make the Triangle a destination for creative types, whether it’s a physical or digital destination. Our motto is: ‘Free reign for free expression.’ We’re going to work hard to live up to it.”

Greg Behr, who has worked in the past with online magazines and was a creative writing major at N.C. State, is co-editing the venture with Warden. And he has lofty ambitions for the Quarterly.

“This is a way to cement Raleigh’s position in the literary world,” he said. “Right now, this is a labor of love, but we’d like to turn it into something similar to the Paris Review or the Virginia Quarterly.

“Raleigh has a lot of talented writers and artists, and this is an opportunity to give them a voice.

“We want people to say that Raleigh is a place where writers and artists are really appreciated.”

The site is already accepting submissions, and it’s not limited to novels. Poets, musicians, artists and cartoonists are welcome, too.

“We really want to make this the hub for artists,” Warden said. “We are starting with a Web site and we eventually want to make it more interactive.”

Two recent events stirred Warden, Behr, designer Katie Nordt and Web developer David Millsaps to create the Quarterly – the demise of Schoolkids Records in Chapel Hill and a recent comment from Apple’s Jobs about the decline of reading.

Ironically, it is through the technology of the Web and the self-publishing capability of Triangle-based Lulu that the written word is finding a new voice to counter critics such as Jobs.

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is,” Jobs of iPod and Apple computer fame told The New York Times. “The fact is that people don’t read anymore.”

The Quarterly quarter took such affront at Jobs’ remark that they launched a “Teach Steve To Read” contest. Contributors can submit a variety of entries that judges will screen and then send on to Jobs to remind the technology genius that the printed word still has legions of fans.

“Steve, we love your stuff,” the Quarterly states. “But, dude, reading doesn’t deserve that kind of dismissal.”

Wryly, the site also notes that the winning entry will be transformed into a podcast so Jobs “doesn’t have to read it.”

The group also was jarred when Schoolkids – a legendary record and music store – closed its doors in Chapel Hill.

“Schoolkids was a physical place where artists and music lovers could gather and share,” Warden said. “What a great institution it was. Those places are disappearing in the digital age.”

Also supporting the group’s effort is real estate developer Greg Hatem, who owns The Morning Times; Bill Mooney, owner of Tannis Root, Aly Khalifa, organizer of the Sparkcon festival in Raleigh, and Jeff Gordinier, editor-at-lager for Details magazine and author of "X Saves the World: How Generation X got the Shaft but can still Keep Everything from Sucking.”

If the Raleigh Quarterly is successful, Behr said one of the group’s primary goals will be realized: “We want to help get people reading again.”