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Editor Interview: Gobshite Quarterly

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

A: multilingual en face txts

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

A: publications: barcelona review, granta, guernica, london review of books, unlikely stories, vilnius review, west coast wierd, téma, the writing disorder
publishers: coffee house press, fiction collective 2, future tense books, green integer, hawthorne books, perfect day publishing, poezija, red hen press, semiotext(e), tavern books, 2 dollar radio
& there are shite-tonnes of european presses that frequently do multilingual parallel text editions: druga pica, peter lang, zephyr press, & esp. europa editions—esp. their chapbooks for various literary festivals—being one of them...

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

A: living, or dead? rather than being a fanboy & listing my hundred or so favorite writers, i'm going for favorite writers among those that we've published over the last 18 years *:
cristina a´lvarez lopez, tomica bajsic, poe ballantine, carlos barbarito, julienne bušic, karel capek, mahmoud darwish, marija dejanovic´, veronica dintinjana, andrea dworkin, marie étienne, phoebe giannisi, leanne grabel, monika herceg, pecos b. jett, aušra kaziliunaite, ivan klíma, christoph keller, paul krassner, lászló krasznahorkai, pavel lembersky, josh lubin, adrian martin, mark mordue, nastashia minto, les murray, vasileia oikonomou, triin paja, edo popovic, frederic raphael, josip razim, jennifer robin, matthew robinson, sergi sánchez, mark sargent, andre sen-senkov, d. siotis, petros skythiotis, tom spanbauer, douglas spangle, judith steele, coleman stevenson, brenda taulbee, armin tolentino, eleni tzatzimaki, eran tzelgov, rimas uzgiris, luisa valenzuela, nina wieda, koon woon, lidia yuknavitch **
favorite illustrators & artists who are also contributors: migle anušauskaite, tânia cardoso, jo cook, walt curtis, magda dulcic, m.p. fikaris, dušan gacic, leanne grabel, helena klakocar, sarah laing, miroslav nemeth, irena jukic pranjic, liz swados, knut van brijs, shannon wheeler, graham willoughby
*) which is why it's such an exhaustive list
**) apologies to those i've forgotten or otherwise failed to list

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

A: the fact that everything, including cartoons & comics, appears en face/parallel text, in 3 or 4 to 9 languages, & that we somehow manage to get many emerging central & eastern european, middle eastern & north african writers, along with the usual suspects of american & oz & kiwi & japanese & south african writers & visual artists/illustrators...
& that we're left coast. as much as i love n.y.c., their provincialism is so ingrained that hardly anyone sees it.
thus, left coast, & canadian, british, lithuanian, croatian, spanish & mexican publications are by comparison much more open to the outside world. everyone out here is always accused of provincialism, & many of us try to be more alert to it.
our proportion of women writers, translators, & illustrators is very high by contemporary standards. as for people of colour, that by definition has always been a very high priority.

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

A: read our magazine, & read everything. esp. work coming from europe, asia, the middle east, africa, latin america, australia, new zeeland, canada. keep it short. since we are printing in parallel text, lengths exponentiate. prose tends to be in 4 languages due to layout issues. a 1200 word pce winds up being 4800 words.
a 4800 word pce winds up being in another publication altogether or gets published by us as a standalone chapbook. (& hold on there, as we've only done that once.)
as for genre, be esp. careful with horror, & even s.f. those genre conventions, while fine for that genre, are just that: genre conventions. & genre conventions tend to be a sort of capt. midnight decoder ring. make sure that yr pce won't alienate readers who otherwise don't read genre. too many submissions are of a sub-h.p. lovecraft ilk, & paranoia in & of itself gets really tedious by the third or fourth paragraph. if you are going to do any suspense, study 19th c. writers like de maupassant. (& please don't what-about-stephen-king... if you read him you will know he breaks & bends those genre rules all the time, which is why he wound up getting an enormous readership very early in his particular game.) & as for fantasy, same thing. gossamer by itself gets thin, if not outright twee, by paragraph three or four.
best rules comes from ezra pound: make it new!
& from cocteau: astonish me!

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: in a perfect world: short, brilliant, compelling, shocking, provocative, soothing, universally appealing....
failing that: start with short, brilliant...

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

A: not putting an author name or byline anywhere in the title or doc, & failing to include any contact info. that file gets either downloaded & cut & pasted & goes into a folder. weeks or months later that doc is all we have to go by. if we can't contact the author for further info because no email address or no address whatsoever was included, well that goes straight into the trashcan.
also, doc, not docx. & if there are tonnes of diacritic marks, also include a pdf.
additionally, if the pce was originally in another language be sure to include that language. we've reached the point where there are two dozen pces in limbo because we do not have the original language. the contributor keeps promising to send it, but doesn't.
we've reached the point where we will no longer consider such submissions without the inclusion of the original language at the outset.

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

A: how much do we want to know? if they hijacked a twa jet, or worked in the peace corp, or were a war crimes investigator (as some of our contributors have been or done), that always gets a reader's attention.
in talking about previous publications, they are useful in that if we accept the pce, then the previous publications can be used for a bio. but it's much better to do a page break at the end of the piece, & then add a very brief bio & biblio. & don't forget: name, address, email... & if there is a translator, or translators: their name, address, email...

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

A: poems are concise enough that we read the whole thing. (but even there, shorter can be better.)
with any prose, i read the first few paragraphs, & if they're great we keep reading. otherwise, after those first few paragraphs we go & look at the last page. but if the first few paragraphs aren't doing anything at all except assembling vowels & consonants, we might not bother. our second reader always reads the whole thing, & has this to say: some failures do announce themselves loudly. (& this only happens to about 25% of the time.)
& if the piece sucks, so what? every writer has a bad day, week, month, year, or even decade.
all we ever want is something short & brilliant & compelling.

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

A: any questions, major or minor, that an editor has about the piece goes to the other editor, & sometimes to a third reader.
& even a fourth reader. it usually does not come to that.
& sometimes we ask a contributor to change something, esp. in translation, if the english in a particular passage has not been fully translated either conceptually or idiomatically from the original language...
most writers & editors are fine with copyediting that addresses really awkward translation issues. sometimes there are cultural assumptions that do not carry over.

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

A: during many times of the year we do not have time to read each submission that comes in, esp. prose, but often poetry, too.
we not only edit the magazine, but also do standalone titles, anywhere from 3 to 6 books a year.
& as for the magazine editing, a good 70% of the time involves coralling & editing & coordinating the translations.
on a typical day i have email conversations with 7 or 8 croatian, bosnian, greek, russian, slovenian, bengali, estonian, lithuanian, & icelandic translators. that is all a very necessary process.
so, the day begins with coffee, & then kombucha. then email (& that can take hrs). if there is a pce we read, & it really fails (& that is approx. 25% of the submissions—& in cases of genre, those pieces may be fine, but not for a general readership), then that pce does not go to a second reader, & the contributor is notified. but this may be wks, or even months after the submission...because we are constantly juggling the magazine's requirements with the requirements of the 3 to 6 books a year that we publish.
& we remain essentially a 2 person operation. (not to slight our volunteer, wiki editor, & spanish copy-editor. his plate is quite full, too.)

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

A: if by electronic submissions you mean emails with attached word docs, we have been doing that with 95% of our submissions since day one.
however, we do get paper submissions, & they're usually from very competent writers, who know all the rules & niceties of submission, & we usually accept that submission, or ask for another, which we wind up accepting.
because we are en face/parallel text, a lot of ebook, emagazine, online publishing just does not at all fucking work for us.
it winds up being an enormous time-suck—esp. with the handcoding of each & every diacritical mark, & unless we can fit all the translations on the same page & turn them into a jpg, it just does not work.
this is the case with the magazine. our books are a slightly different case, as 2/3rds of those are not multilingual... some of those ARE ebooks.
by online social networking services, do you mean facebook, instagram, twitter, et al?
if so, we have found that they are great for press releases, & for reminding readers of the extent & diversity of our catalog.
we by necessity have a foot in the 20th century, a foot in the 21st century, & frequently stretch our arms to reach back to the 19th & 18th centuries, & even BCE, for publishing petronius the arbiter & his 21st. c. translator frederic raphael. we even have some pending medieval welsh texts, as well as classical greek.

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

A: with most cases our editing is light... but sometimes, esp. if the pce is an english translation, esp. if it's an older english translation, then line editing & copy editing is called for.
& proofreading, that fucker never goes away.
we let authors know of edits as we go along, & always let the author know at the outset that edits may have to be done without their consent.
we've only had few authors who weren't happy, but we did resolve that, & they have continued to contribute.

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

A: we nominate for pushcarts as often as possible for the magazine.
our books are nominated for oregon book awards. & we keep our ears to the ground for international awards, esp. for those books we've published by european or latin american writers. & sometimes there are grants available for those sorts of works & we apply for those when we can.