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Editor Interview: Sparks of Calliope

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

A: poetic observations

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

A: There are several publications that seem to attract similar styles. The one that comes to mind first is a publication that just recently folded, Nine Muses Poetry, run by Annest Gwilym in the UK. She also had a classical Greek theme, published free verse which is well-written, observant, and descriptive, and several of the writers who we have published were also published by her, either before or after. The Society of Classical Poets is really good about keeping traditional forms alive. There are a lot of markets out there; the ones that are encouraging, inclusive, and offer something positive to the community are inspiring; conversely, the ones that are negative, divisive, and treat poetry as some kind of secret language for intellectual elitists should be avoided.

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

A: We publish poetry exclusively at the moment. As a poet, I write mostly inspired by the traditional forms. Early favorites include Shakespeare, Keats, and Percy Shelley to Dickinson, Longfellow, Frost, and Wilbur. I appreciate the work of T.S.Elliot, Silvia Plath, and Maya Angelou. Among living poets, I love A.E. Stallings, A.M. Juster, and some of Billy Collins more humorous poems. I feel I am leaving many out by creating a list. I would be remiss in not mentioning some of the talented poets I have had the privilege to publish in the last couple of years, including Diane Elayne Dees, William Doreski, Ken Gosse, Leslie Lippincott Hidley, Stephen Kingsnorth, and Robert Nisbet. Again, I feel guilty in not listing all of our past contributors as I feel we've been really blessed with the quality of submissions received.

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

A: We encourage rhyming and traditional forms. We appreciate good free verse. We are not looking for condescending, pseudo-intellectual nonsense. We don't play the emperor's new clothes game. If it is poorly written, we're not going to pretend it's great just because you go with an identity politics theme. We're not interested in your obligatory illicit drug use reference, your anti-religion rant, your political tribalism, or how you drank yourself into a stupor. Nihilism is boring. We want poetic observations about life, acknowledgment of our common humanity, and recognition of beauty in unsuspected places.

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

A: Read the submission guidelines. Proofread your work. Read the submission guidelines.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission is simply a submission which follows our submission guidelines. We ask no more or no less.

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

A: Most recently the issue has been those who submit their poems in an attached document we cannot open. The most common issue is those who submit more poems or with greater frequently than called for in the submission guidelines. We've also had the occasional regular sending us poems we've already rejected (and in one case already published).

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

A: We would prefer not to receive a cover letter. A short message in the emailed submission will suffice nicely. We would like to receive a short bio to share with those poems we publish. We would prefer to receive it first just so we don't have to chase it down should we decide to publish a poem from the set. However, we are fine with submissions without biographies as long as those are supplied once a piece is accepted. We don't choose poems based on a poet's bio.

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

A: We strive to read each poem submitted in its entirety. There are exceptions where it is obvious a poem isn't going to work, most often because it blatantly doesn't follow the submission guidelines. If I read through a set and don't find one I think will work, I'll usually look them over again to be sure before sending the rejection letter. We've never published multiple-page epic poems and have no plan to do so, so those usually don't get read all the way through.

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

A: We exclusively take electronic submissions; I wouldn't ask poets to spend money on a stamp when electronic communication is faster, easier, and free.

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

A: I only edit for punctuation and spelling errors. As we have an international audience and contributors from around the world, I try not to change alternate UK spellings, etc. I have rarely accepted a piece that I felt needed significant edits, but I would touch base with a contributor before changing their work, as I would want to be the case with my own submissions.

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

A: We annually nominate six poems for the Pushcart Prize anthology and six poems for the Best of the Net anthology. The nominees are always poems we received which were unpublished elsewhere.