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Editor Interview: Black Sunflowers Poetry Press

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

A: We are centring the edge

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

A: There are so many - really - some I admire for their stable of authors and others for the sheer beauty of their publications.

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

A: Hey we're developing a series of Artist Poet chapbooks - so beat that! I love all of our own poets of course - plus Kaveh Akbah, Rita Dove, Jericho Brown, Danez Smith, Terrance Hayes, Harryette Mullen.. I could go on. Art - we have some of my favourite artists on our covers; Wangechi Mutu, Virginia Chihota, Betye Saar but there are so many artists I love --- really

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

A: I don't think anyone else is doing it like we are! We're art infused, we're choosy, we cherish our poets, we take care, we surprise ourselves

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

A: Buy one of our chapbooks and read it. Also take a look at our website - see if we feel right. Send us your best work. Also read our criteria thoroughly.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal poetry chapbook submission is unexpected, unusual - not something that we have read before. It usually has a great title - the shorter the better. We tend to know by around page 4 that this manuscript is something special and don't change that opinion. The best chapbooks feel 'whole', complete, just right in terms of length and what they are saying. They are not a random set of poems put together.

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

A: I suppose they don't check us out thoroughly enough - we are not looking for something exactly like one of the chapbooks we have already published. It certainly helps to have studied poetry thought that is not a pre-requisite. We look for poetic confidence.

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

A: No we really don't care and I know some poets put great store by their cover letters and the space allocated - but really we read the manuscripts and re-read the manuscripts. When we alight on something we like, that is the time we start to look for more information about the poet. We do have a focus on women and black poets so it is useful for us to have this information indicated (if it is not readily knowable).

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

A: We read the first 10 pages of everything - and yes it is possible to tell fairly quickly (after reading many, many manuscripts) what will get through the first sift.

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

A: If we are very excited after reading a manuscript, we will approach a poet almost immediately (before the reading period is over) and sound them out. We will seek more biographical information from the poet and ask whether they have done any readings etc.This is all in confidence. We are likely to ask them to withdraw their manuscript from consideration elsewhere. We've learned (the hard way!) that it is better not to wait.

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

A: The last few weeks have been busy - getting proofs out and back from 40 poets - but everything is now locked down. I drafted a new call out. Reading submissions takes time, then editing and so on. Alongside the poetry press, I study, write and work in schools.

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

A: It is very, very important to embrace new tech and stay ahead of the curve. We also have various publishing plans (that I won't go into here) that involve new tech

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

A: This varies depending on the poet and the manuscript. Anthologies tend to require more editing than the chapbooks - which often arrive more or less oven-ready.

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

A: We try to keep up to date and submit our chapbooks for relevant awards - yes.