Editor Interview: Tipton Poetry Journal

Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.

A: shared sense of humanity

Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?

A: Prairie Schooner, Beloit Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, Saint Ann's Review, Poetry, New York Quarterly, Main Street Review, Poetry Northwest, Midwest Quarterly, Iowa Review, Georgia Review, Southern Review, Comstock Review, MARGIE, FENCE, Evansville Review, Pedestal Magazine, Water-Stone Review, Southern Indiana Review.

Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?

A: William Stafford, Mary Oliver, Kay Ryan, Ted Kooser, Jared Carter, Tony Hoagland, David Shumate, William Blake, Arlene Ang, Kristine Ong Muslim, James Tipton, Richard Pflum, Shaindel Beers, Joan Colby, Stephen R. Roberts, Billy Collins, Bob Hicok, Jim Moore, Michael Henson, Thomas Alan Orr, Roger Pfingston, Maureen Sherbondy, CL Bledsoe, JL Kato, Martha Clarkson, Mary C. O'Malley, William Aarnes, Gilbert Allen, Edward Byrne.

Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?

A: A lack of doctrine and a twist of zen.

Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

A: Send 3-5 poems in the body of the email. Then, if your poem has italics or special formatting, including a Word attachment to clarify is helpful. If you must submit by email AND you find yourself including an email address, please reconsider because it will just slow things down. Save the space in our post office box for those who just can't do this internet thing.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission will either give me goosebumps right away or haunt me and keep pulling at me until a 2nd or 3rd reading. It will be less than 40 lines. It will probably not rhyme, but then again it might if it doesn't overwhelm the poem. It will say something at the end and maybe in the middle that hints at other meanings and textures encountered earlier in the poem. It will not be prose unless it's a prose poem and we will both know the difference.

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: Most people follow the guidelines, but the biggest mistake is not placing the word "Submission" in the subject line to avoid having a submission gobbled up by the spam filters. And sometimes, they leave off their mailing address, which makes things awkward when we try to mail out the contributor copies.

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?

A: I like to read bios, to learn something about the person on the other end. Usually, I don't read the bio until later when I am seriously considering the poem. Including a bio is preferred but not a show-stopper. It also saves time when it comes to formatting your poem for publication. Publication credits in a bio won't put a poem that doesn't connect into the journal.

Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?

A: Sometimes you can just tell and there is no point in reading every line. But if there is any hint that a poem will connect on some level, we will continue on.

Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?

A: Once in awhile, when I get those goosebumps or just an aha, acceptance will come right away. What is more common is that we move poems through a step ladder of computer folders - into the likely or very likely groupings based on a first reading. Sort of like mining for gold nuggets by sending them into a sliuce box. The good stuff falls out. When a poem is accepted, we will send along a proof formatted for publication so the poet can check that any formatting or italics comes through as intended. The proof will also include a tentative bio and a request for an optional photo (for our online version) if you want readers to know you in that way.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: We (which is me and my assistant, Katie Kowalski) have day jobs, so first we get up and go to those other jobs. Then, after work, we get to be poetry editors. Much of the work is done necessarily in an hour or two here and there. We read submissions year-round and often accept poems for an issue or two ahead, especially if something about the poem has a seasonal feel to it. Once we get to the month before publication, the pace picks up and we select the bulk of the poems that will go into the next issue. The magazine's layout is the same each issue - 48 pages including bios, 13-pitch Georgia font for the text, 18-pitch bold for the title, and 16-pitch Monotype Corsiva for the byline, center-stapled with (hopefully) an eye-catching cover. Then we proofread, proofread some more, email the manuscript to our printer, get the proof copy and proofread some more. Once the printer delivers the new issue, we email a heads-up to our contributors so they will know to look in their mailboxes.

Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?

A: We publish both a print version and archive an online version, accept online orders through Paypal, and maintain both a Facebook and Twitter presence to stay connected with subscribers and contributors. 95% of our submissions come electronically and, especially because we don't have a large staff, the process would be much more formidable without technology. We are looking into a digital format for electronic distribution for e-readers.