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Editor Interview: Little Patuxent Review

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

A: Work to wake imagination

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

A: There are the national publications like Ploughshares and Poetry, but I really enjoy Barrelhouse, The Wolf, Gulf Coast, and Smartish Pace for consistently raising awareness of new,engaging voices.

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

A: Of what era? I'll stay contemporary: Ilya Kaminsky, Valzhyna Mort, Tim Seibles, Terrance Hayes, and Patricia Smith for the poets; Michael Chabon, Junot Diaz, Haruki Murakami, and Toni Morrison for the fiction writers; Anne Lamott, bell hooks, Joan Didion, and Marion Winik for non-fiction.

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

A: Along with excellent poetry and prose, we've been fortunate to always get great interviews, like David Byrne from the Talking Heads in the latest issue, as well as having a full-color art profile of a local artist, accompanied by an art essay from Michael Salcman. There is good bit of content for different kinds of readers.

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

A: I'd tell authors to send work where they surprised themselves in their writing, where they arrived at some place other than where they intended with a character or a poem. The editors at Little Patuxent Review have a wide variety of tastes and are savvy readers looking for something that manages to spark the imagination, then sustain that fire throughout the writing.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: One that takes risks. This could be risks with form, but in other ways as well. William Stafford said that if we are not risking sentimentality, we are not close to our true voice in writing. So take that for what you will. Also I like to see work that takes the basic units of poetry and prose, the line and the sentence, and makes them units of possibility, rather than strictly units of meaning.

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

A: Often the number of poems and word count for prose is too high. Should be an easy thing to get right by reviewing the submission guidelines. Also Little Patuxent Review publishes two issues a year, and the winter issue always has a theme. Often we get submissions that don't have any connection to the theme, even broadly.

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

A: Often, I read the cover letter after I've read the submission. I don't think it's made a difference one way or another in terms of accepting a piece, but sometimes it does give a small amount of context.

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

A: Depends on the piece. The way the writer is using language usually argues for whether or not the piece needs to be read all the way through. Mostly the editorial staff and I read the whole piece out of respect for the time put in by writer. Here's what matters most: is there anything that makes me want to read the piece a second time?

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

A: We do a little bit of fact checking when comes to non-fiction pieces, as well as seeking to balance the number of voices we have from the Mid-Atlantic region with the number of voices from the rest of the country. Little Patuxent Review's roots and sustaining community come from Maryland, so we try to reflect that fact without being limited by it.

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

A: Usually it's spent get a tan from too many hours in front of the computer screen (I like to keep the brightness on high). Some of the day to day is what you would expect: managing volunteer readers, creating content for the website, and coordinating reading events. Sometimes I'm afraid I've come to think in calendar apps. There are moments of drudgery, but they don't compare to the moments of joy when reading new work.
For a journal like Little Patuxent Review, nothing could get down with cultivating ethical and meaningful artistic relationships with the community. So in that vein, I spend part of my day developing ways that LPR can better connect communities of readers with communities of writers.

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

A: Embracing modern technologies is about survival for literary journals. I think most publishers would recognize that electronic submissions and social media have democratic functions, allowing a greater variety of voices access to the publishing process. I am also a strong believer in the printed book as an art object or artifact, and it's tangible ability to connect the experience of reading to the physical world, not just the world of ideas. The act of giving or receiving a book has a special place in humanity's collective consciousness.