Skip to Content

Editor Interview: Plum Tree Tavern

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

A: Green witness red protest

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

A: Anti-Heroin Chic
The Beatnik Cowboy
Front Porch Review
The Pangolin Review
G. Tod Slone of The American Dissident, who does not compromise, period. Abandon your groupthink, all ye who enter here:

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

A: Last poetry book I opened was Jazz Poems, from the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets series
Poetry books that are always out in the open are Austerity Measures: The New Greek Poetry, and Futures: Poetry of the Greek Crisis.
Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry just joined the list. So did Short Stories by Latin American Women, and The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States.
Waiting on delivery from Amazon: The Utopians of Tahir Square. Resistencia: Poems of Protest and Revolution.
And living just outside Atlanta, three Georgia poets: Chet Davidson, Gregory Fraser, Judson MItcham.
I am happy you asked about art. The Tavern would like the photographers in the audience to know that I will always consider nature images--forests, deserts, rivers, winter scenes, farm. coasts, landscapes and the like. With poetry or as a stand-alone submission. Either way.

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

A: Not many sites focus on ecopoetry, so it’s a small group of others. What sets Plum Tree Tavern apart is its focus to de-emphasize the observer and to concentrate on the image. There’s a reason for that. Let’s just say the arrogance and ignorance of the human ego wrecks the planet. The planet by itself doesn’t need the human ego at all. It can get by just fine without it. Same with a poem about nature. The river speaks for itself. It can get by just fine without the poetic ego. There’s a difference between “The river speaks in older words” and “I hear the river speaking older words.” One line gives the river dignity. The other line advertises the poet.
These days, with the global catastrophe upon us, ecopoetry isn't enough. Climate change imposes direct costs on the entire social fabric. We see it fraying with increased American aggression against women's and voting rights, and in increasing wealth inequality. The tavern is thus open to works of protest and social justice, with the intent to create a poet's democracy of green witness and red protest, in word and image.

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

A: Be specific. One writer sent a poem that focused on a turtle on a rock in a stream. If somebody wants to write about that, he or she better state the species of the turtle, the type of rock, and the name of the stream. Specificity might have given that poem the credibility it needed to work. Without specificity, that image isn’t a poem. It’s a greeting card. And usually, leave the word ‘I’ out of things. Here's a link that talks about my expectations:

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Again, specificity. And season, place and color and other tactile elements. More than anything else, the honesty of the image. An honest poem has a certain sound to it, call it a deep, brass ring to it. Something that vibrates into bone. Less than honest poems also have a sound, like tin. I would argue that a poem that is less than honest, isn’t a poem at all.

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

A: That the intent is to focus on the nature of nature, not on the nature of human nature. I am interested in the wonder of the world, not in how the observer describes his or her relation to a wonder in the world. Again, there’s a difference between “The river speaks in older words” and “I hear the river speaking older words.” One line gives the river dignity. The other line advertises the poet.

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

A: I don’t ask for bios, and I don’t publish them. The poem will either speak for itself, or it won’t.

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

A: All of it. Poetry is like baseball. Anything can happen in the bottom of the ninth, the last line.

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

A: For return customers, I check the new work against the older work. Usually, I like to see some variety in the submissions--different tone, structure, theme. But sometimes a continuum works. No rule here, just something I will take a look at.

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

A: I have a day job, so editing is a part-time labor. And not a labor of love, it's a labor of commitment. The most enjoyable part is the ability to give a platform to people who have something to say. Nothing better than to give a voice a place in the world.

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

A: I used to think it was way important to accept new technology. On one level, I still think so. As an example, the keyboard might represent liberty (think of fonts, bolding, alignment) while the typewriter represents restriction. The keyboard is also more democratic than the typewriter--more people can effectively use a keyboard than could use a typewriter. Much modern technology simply offers a combination of liberty and democracy that traditional models never attained.
That said, the proliferation of modern communication channels creates an unhelpful fragmentation among populations. If everybody is talking, who is doing the listening? Publishers must pay the same amount of attention to their audience as they do their speakers.

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

A: If the submitted poem works, the poem works and I leave it as is. If a submitted poem comes close, I will suggest rewrites or edits that will make it acceptable. Sometimes, that includes substantive work. More often, it is minor line work or a different choice of words. Copy editing and proofreading is performed as a matter of course. The author gets final say.

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

A: I do not nominate. I do create annual special editions that consist of "best of" selections from a publishing year. Which reminds me, to do a best of the first five years version. Stay tuned. Drink up.