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Editor Interview: Juniper: A Poetry Journal

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

A: Poems.

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

A: The Literary Review of Canada, The Courtland Review, Plume, Poetry, The Adroit Journal, The Paris Review, BOAAT, The Fiddlehead... and more.

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

A: When it comes to poetry, I don't necessarily think in terms of favourite poets - so much as favourite poems.
When I first started the magazine and had not yet published our first issue, I listed three favourite poems which are still on our submissions page. But new favourites are emerging constantly. Today it was Li-Young Lee's "Little Ache", Robyn Sarah's "Riveted" and Julie Cameron Gray's "Performance Art".
On Juniper's twitter page, we sometimes tweet poems we love that we've come across. For example, “Elsewhere” by Alycia Pirmohamed in The /temz/ Review and “Introduction to Quantum Theory” by Franny Choi in The Adroit Journal.
All the poems published in Juniper are favourites!

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

A: I'm not sure that we're doing anything different per se than any other online poetry magazine. What is clear is that there are many poems searching for a home - and we open our doors every January, May and September. We do our best to promote our contributors and we're always looking for new ways to grow our readership.

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

A: 1) Send your very best work!
2) While it's nice to receive poems that "speak" to each other, we also like variety. So for example, sending poems on the same subject matter/topic may not provide enough of a variety of poems to choose from.
3) We definitely appreciate when submitters have read at least one issue and have a sense of the aesthetic of the magazine, before submitting.
4) Follow the guidelines.
5) Surprise us - take some chances in your poetry.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: An ideal submission might start with a warm greeting, or at least "Dear Editors." The submitter would perhaps mention a poem or two that they enjoyed in one of our issues and they might tell us a bit about themselves. They would have followed the guidelines perfectly and included a third person bio. There would be no typos. Most importantly, the poems would be well-crafted, surprising, delightful, moving - even awe-inspiring.

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

A: The three most common mistakes are:
1) Forgetting to list the titles of their poems in their cover letter.
2) Sending submissions outside our reading period.
3) Not including a third person bio.

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

A: We do like to get to know our submitters and bios are a practical and fast way to get a glimpse of the poet at work behind the scenes and/or out in the poetry community. Since we publish both emerging and established poets, we are just as proud to feature a poem in Juniper by a poet who's never been published before as we are to feature an established poet's work.

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

A: Since we ask for only three previously unpublished poems - we read every submission from beginning to end.

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

A: During the submission period, the editors pick poems of particular interest to them to read aloud at our editorial board meetings. Ideally, we are looking for a consensus. At the end of the submission period, I re-read all the shortlisted poems and make a final decision as to which poems will be accepted.

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

A: When we're open for submissions, I read submissions almost every single day. I read most submissions online, but if I see a poem that I'm particularly interested in, I will print it up and consider it on paper. I might spend several days considering one poem. It's important for me to spend time with a poem to fully appreciate it. I also compile a shortlist as I read. I have a yes, no and maybe pile - which will be in flux throughout the month. We also hold editorial meetings to read and discuss poems of particular interest. Once submissions are closed, and the editors have handed in their shortlists, final decisions are made.

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

A: Whatever works for a particular publication, because if it doesn't suit the publishers, how long will the publication last? Juniper was founded in May 2017 and we hope to be around for a long time to come. We're ever vigilant to expand and develop our journal (which includes keeping up with modern technologies) but doing so in a way that we don't overreach and over-commit ourselves to more than we can handle. We like to keep it simple. Keep it current. At Juniper, we've embraced social media as it's a wonderful way to reach our readers and frankly we could hardly thrive without it!

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

A: The whole issue is proofread. If there are any errors, such as typos or any questions about the text, I always query the poet first to confirm/clarify if anything needs to be corrected/changed.

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

A: Yes. This year we sent off our nominations for the Pushcart Prize. And we are on the list of magazines consulted for the Best Canadian Poetry Series. Poems from Juniper have been published in the Best Canadian Poetry Anthology for 2020, and 2021 (forthcoming).