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Editor Interview: The Headlight Review

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

A: Lit with a complex effect

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

A: Black Warrior Review, Split Lip Magazine, Dovecote, SmokeLong Quarterly, CutBank

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

A: Jericho Brown, Karen Russell, Max Porter, Hanif Abdurraqib, Harry Crews, Brendan Joyce, Louise Erdrich, Kaveh Akbar, Joshua Clover

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

A: For poetry: we admire messy syntax, complex effects, and poems that stand up to multiple readings, but prefer standard-ish punctuation
For essays: we want essays that read like failed poems—ones that circle a thesis, but are more interested in exploring the truth around it.
For fiction: something rich, complicated, and true, but something that doesn't lose sight of what makes us human.

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

A: Not in the slightest. It's nice to see, if only because we may go read those pieces if we love the submission, just for fun. But neither the cover letters nor prior submissions impact our reading.

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

A: Depends on the editor, but I read to the end. I can usually tell if a piece isn't right within the first couple sentences, but I like to see where the writer is going.

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

A: It depends on the piece, what we're looking to do with it, and what the writer is comfortable with. This is why I read to the end. Sometimes there's a great piece that's just a little obscured by elements that aren't working, and I love to help a writer bring those out.
Other times, especially in poetry, there are formatting and/or technical concerns. But we always give the writer the final word, and edit with them in mind.

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

A: This is the first year of full-time operations, but that is our plan. We intend to nominate for every award our writers are eligible for, and advocate their work in every way we can.