Skip to Content

Editor Interview: Gyroscope Review

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

A: Fine contemporary poetry

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

A: We have too many favorites to name. We admire publications that publish a wide variety of work and try to get a diversity of authors out in front of the public.

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

A: That’s like asking which child we love most - depends on the day and how ornery the child. Some days we love reading Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Yeats, Rilke. Other days we go for Louise Gluck, Nick Lantz, Tracy K. Smith, Mary Oliver, Naomi Shihab Nye, Billy Collins. Our current Poet Laureates.

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

A: We read each poem thoroughly, several times, over a course of days or weeks. Each poem may be read 2 or more times. We want to give each poem a fair chance to impress us. The editors have eclectic tastes, so we aren't always looking to publish the same thing over and over. We offer an Annual Crone Power issue each Fall for woman-identifying poets over the age of 50. We think they have a lot to say and often get overlooked.

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

A: Read the guidelines, they're what they are to make both our lives easier and to help us get the publication out quickly. Read back issues to get a feel for what we’ve been publishing. Read the Masthead to find out what the editors like. Edit, edit, edit. Get rid of extraneous material. Eradicate typos. One typo is often an accident, two we start to wonder, three and we doubt your sincerity although we won't reject just because of typos. Mistakes happen. But be meticulous. This is your audition, your resume, your face to the world. Don’t blow it over things under your control.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission is tightly edited, grammar- and spell-checked, takes us someplace we didn’t know we wanted to go and impresses us with deft language and a punch at the end.

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

A: They submit more poems than we call for. They submit drafts and want to withdraw and edit them, and submit them again. We have a cap on our submissions and continual withdraws and resubmissions can put us over. It's not fair to other poets. The most irritating thing is when someone's submitted poem gets accepted elsewhere and the author doesn't bother to let us know. It’s no big deal to tell us - Withdraw the poem, tell us why, and we’ll be the first to congratulate you on your success!

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

A: We like to be reminded there’s a real person on the other end of the computer screen - just as we’d like submitters to know we’re real people, not faceless, ruthless dragons, er, editors. A short and pithy cover letter makes our day. If you don’t have anything in the way of publication credits, tell us you like pie. We like pie, too. Form a connection, let us know you read past issues. But overall, cover letters are not a must-have. We’re always interested in seeing where people have been published, but it doesn’t influence our decision. A good poem trumps all. We often read the cover letter AFTER we read the poem. Check the Submission Guidelines for each Issue, we offer Cover Letter Conversation Starter questions. If you don't know what to say, tell us about your pets. We love hearing about pets.

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

A: We read each piece several times, all the way to the end. If we have doubts, we discuss the poem among editors and weigh the pros and cons. Does it fit with our vision for this issue? Each poem is given several chances. We want submitters to know their submission is valued, even if it ultimately ends up being rejected. Don’t take a rejection personally; sometimes the poem doesn’t fit our vision for the issue or we’ve had too many similar poems of late. Keep trying.

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

A: Poems that aren’t immediate yeses are discussed thoroughly. What are its strengths and weaknesses?  Would a small revision make this piece sing? Are there words or phrases that detract from the meaning of the poem? Would our readers enjoy this poem? Is it on a subject that needs to be heard? Is it an underrepresented voice?

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

A: When we are open to submissions I try to read the slush pile every few days and get a feel for what is coming in. Some poems impress me right away, and I give them a tentative yes. Other poems have something going for them, but there are stumbling blocks in phraseology, formatting, or overall comprehension. These get a maybe. Others aren’t doing it for me and get a 'probably not for us'. Then I go back in a few days later and read them all again, to see if my initial reaction still holds. Finally, the Assistant Editors and I go over each poem and decide if it’s right for Gyroscope Review. We discuss maybes and if they need too much editing to be brought up to speed or not. Any disagreements are talked through based on the strength of the poem and a final decision is made. We ask for edits where appropriate, and work with the poet to make sure the poem is at its absolute best. We Google lines from submissions if we're really keen on them to make sure they haven't been published elsewhere. Sending out rejections is not our favorite part of the process but it has to be done. We try and be encouraging. Sending out acceptances and getting a cyber “Hooray!” is the best part of the process.

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

A: Since we were an online-only journal before we added a print/e-book edition, we are a bit biased toward embracing technology. Technology, electronic submissions, and Submittable have made it possible for us to work from different U.S. locations and still put together a quarterly poetry journal. Email makes it possible to correct problems on the fly. As writers ourselves, we understand the strong appeal of a traditional format, something tangible you can hold in your hand. That’s a powerful draw. There’s a place in the world for both formats and we are proud to be able to do both at this time. We like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep in contact with our poets and readers.

Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?

A: We accept many poems as they are and we also have many poems that need just a word or line tweak to make it shine. Sometimes we think a poem would benefit from being shortened, the killer end line might be buried 2 stanzas back, or the beginning stanza might be throat clearing. We always work with the poet on revisions. If a poem needs too much revision, we have to pass. Basic proofreading is done by all editors, both while in progress and after acceptance, the issue is proofread by the editors and we send an Author's Proof to the poets before publication so they can check on their poem. We do not entertain revisions at that time. We query the author on most punctuation/grammar issues to make sure punctuation/grammar differences are not part of the poem's style. We love working with authors to make their poems the best they can be.

Q: Do you nominate work you've published for any national or international awards?

A: We nominate for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net every year.