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Editor Interview: Bacopa Literary Review Contest

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

A: Work that breaks the mold

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

A: Atlantic Monthly, Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, Hunger Mountain, Kenyon Review, Paris Review.

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

A: Kim Addonizio, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Margaret Atwood, Ta Nehesi Coates, Seamus Heaney, Alice Munro, Haruki Murakami, Kay Ryan, Zadie Smith, Colson Whitehead,

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

A: Excellent writing is key, and "excellence" includes a diversity consistent with worldwide diversity of fine writers--diversity of age (and thus cohort groups--whose styles, issues, and concerns differ decade by decade), of gender identification (not just males and females--an increasingly useless dichotomy), of geographic location, of literary background (from well-published septuagenarians to recently hatched MFAs of all ages, to beginning writers who've never published before). A close second to excellence in our vision is service, interacting with and congratulating writers and poets by email, in our Editors' Blog, Facebook, and Twitter; making sure they see within days that their submissions are being reviewed, responding quickly when we know a submission is not quite a fit for a given year's issue, and accepting especially good pieces right away so we don't lose them to another journal. When contributors notify us that they've later published books, we feature them in the Editors' Blog.

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

A: Read what we've published before, in print or digital and on our Editors' Blog, take our guidelines seriously because we've thought carefully about conveying to you the quality of work we'll publish.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Contemporary, relevant, fluent, unusual work that turns us inside out.

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

A: With so many choices for writers and poets to submit their work, remember that every publication has its own idiosyncrasies. We will know as soon as we open your file if you're throwing any old kind of work at our wall to see if it sticks (and it won't). Read our guidelines and offer us pleasure, not pain, to read what you've written.

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

A: Names and bios are hidden from our genre editors until a piece is declined or accepted. The only time we care about credits is when we prepare layout for an issue--then we want a succinct, 50-word bio. That's all.

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

A: We can tell within the first few paragraphs or pages if a submission is well written. However, unless a work is so spectacular that we accept it right away in hopes of beating other publications to it, we don't decide what will be "right" for us until we have the final crop of "possibles" at the end of the submission period. Every year a theme emerges that suggests the right fit for final acceptances and, ultimately, prizes.

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

A: Genre editors draw from their own experience and preferences and are trusted to accept or decline according to our vision for the journal. The Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editor keep a running tally of estimated page use and alert genre editors re: how many more works can be accepted in each genre. We meet frequently as a team to look for balance among genres, and discuss prize decisions as a team, with genre editors having final say.

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

A: "Busy!" Each of us has a preferred way of working, mostly a full day of reading and making internal notes on Submittable so other team members can pop in to add comments (one of our editors keeps a detailed spread sheet with every submission in that genre checked across various criteria). We meet every couple of weeks to discuss how it's going and offer help if one is more overloaded than others.

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

A: Both are important. There have been recent studies reporting that books in print are still popular, but of course many readers prefer to read on their devices. We offer both print and digital versions of each issue.

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

A: We consider an author or poet's work theirs except for minor changes that are agreed upon in writing.

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

A: Almost every year we've submitted Pushcart nominees. We know the competition is stiff so we only nominate truly outstanding work.