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Editor Interview: The American Dissident

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

A: Criticism of poetry/art

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

A: New English Review and Gival Press

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

A: My favorite writers include Orwell, Solzhenitsyn, Villon, Céline, Bukowski, and Thoreau. As for those I publish, I like Gary Goude, Trish Somers, and Dave Ochs. As for artists, Daumier and Breugel impress me. The only art I've published is my art because I have yet to receive any art critical of the academic/literary/art establishment.

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

A: The American Dissident encourages readers and contributors to criticize the editor and journal and publishes the harshest criticisms received in each and every issue. Also, the journal is open to both left and right-wing opinions. The final paragraph in my editorial for last issue (#41) summarizes this: "Finally, when I accepted his poem, 'January 6, 2021' (see next page), though told him I didn’t agree with it, Dan Sklar wrote: 'That's one of the things I have always respected about you, open to all viewpoints.' And I thought, if everyone had the same viewpoints, then I’d have no grist at all for creating critical writing and critical cartoons. Indeed, confronting different viewpoints provokes thought and creativity, at least for me. Equally, I must thank Dan for his openness. Hell, he was the only professor ever to have invited me to his classes to speak to his students…"

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

A: People should make an effort to read the guidelines on the journal's webpage... and do their best to follow them. I ask contributors not to list their credentials, awards, and publication credits. Instead, they should present a short bio, including their jobs and reasons why they'd wish to send poems, essays, and art to a journal devoted to art and literary dissidence. Ideally, they'd send a Curriculum Mortae, as opposed to a Curriculum Vitae, like the one presented on the journal's website.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Well, the ideal submission is something I rarely ever receive: poems/essays/art of personal experience dealing with intellectually corrupt poets, artists, cultural council apparatchiks, librarians, editors, journalists, professors, etc. From time to time, poets, writers, and artists ought to bite the hands that feed. After all, carrots usually serve to co-opt, castrate, and corral.

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

A: Well, my submissions process is quite simple. Submitters must read and attempt to follow the guidelines. Always I respond to queries (unless snail-mailed and w/o an SASE). Always I provide suggestions.

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

A: As for cover letters, yes. As for publication credits, no. Certainly, I am interested in getting to know contributors, including their age, job (or no job), education (or no education), travel experiences, and especially dissident experiences. Again, I am not interested in publication credits.

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

A: If a piece does not interest me, then I will likely not need to read through its entirety.

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

A: I am always desperate for critical writing regarding the academic/literary/art establishment, something that seems to be rare nowadays. So, in order to complete an issue of the journal, inevitably, I have to be more flexible regarding the subject matter of the writing. Again, the process/evaluation is simple.

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

A: Well, I certainly do not receive barrels of submissions everyday. In fact, I do not even receive submissions every week. As an editor, I spend time creating critical cartoons, as well as the front and back cover aquarelles for each issue. I am not a salaried editor. So, being an editor is not a job for me, but rather a passion, something I do not for a salary.

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

A: Technology is certainly helpful. I've maintained a webpage for the journal since the early 2000s. Subscribers are permitted to submit their "work" via email. Some subscribers have become friends, though I've never met them personally. We correspond by email. I have not gotten into social networking.

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

A: Generally, I'll only edit typos and spelling errors. However, now and then, I will make suggestions... often to help improve clarity. Certainly, the author gets to approve the final edits.

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

A: No. Why not? Well, the system of awards (and grants, invitations, fellowships, "writers-in-residence, etc.) is corrupt. Mills College poet professors Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young recently wrote an article on that corruption, "On Poets and Prizes," published in ASAP Journal.