Editor Interview: Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine

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

A: Subtle yet impactful

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

A: The New Yorker's poetry pages always impress, but less widely-known publications like the Los Angeles Review of Books and Mississippi Review publish excellent work as well.

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

A: Any writer or poet who doesn't need ornate or excessive language to convey profound ideas wins me over -- whether they're literary legends or unpublished college students.

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

A: A very strong community of poets, an emphasis on visual art, and an editor who is motived to get deserving poets published in his publication or others.

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

A: Hundreds of poems that I liked enough to publish can be found for free on the Vita Brevis website -- I highly recommend taking advantage of this and reading through them. Everything that works is on display there.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Short and personable, ideally including a well-written bio and a PDF file that neatly displays five poems. Titles are bolded, and the poet does not include lengthy analyses of their own work.

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

A: (1) Throwing five of their most recent poems at the editorial wall and hoping something "sticks." It's very clear when a poet has not read other poetry on Vita Brevis. Without understanding our style, publication is unlikely.
(2) Sending in long analyses of their own work. While it's interesting to see what the poet intended, the work should speak for itself.

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

A: Cover letters are discouraged.
I don't think this is a good use of the poet's time, and I don't want a lack of previous publications or unique life circumstances to distract from their work.
In short, the poem should speak for itself. That said, I've become friends with many of the poets I regularly publish and have since learned a lot about them. This is better done organically than in an a single submission email.

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

A: I always try to consider an entire submission (typically up to five poems) before making my decision, but there are scenarios where the first couple of poems are so unlike what I normally publish that it's difficult to justify reading on. Normally, I power through it to see if there's something more aligned with the Vita Brevis style, but if the submission pool is especially busy, I need to move on to other poets who may have put more thought into their submission's relevance.

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

A: Very. I try to make the submission process as quick and seamless as possible so poets don't have to worry about added tedium. I've also spent a lot of time optimizing Vita Brevis for search engines, bringing poets a lot of added exposure. Embracing new technology may not have the bookish charm of traditional publication, but it has some noticeable benefits.