Skip to Content

Editor Interview: Three Line Poetry

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

A: Three Line Masterpieces

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

A: Poetry Quarterly, though I am bias. I have been enjoying sudden fiction lately. Long poems interest me. Small poems thrill me. Publishers I admire? The Overlook Press seems to have a great eye for a wide range of titles. Those types of publishers, who take what they like, where they find it, and make it work, I like that.

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

A: Carver, Wright, and various New York School poets from the 50's through the early 70's. I'm trying to appreciate the Iowa hype but it's just not there for me, though Collins is always so fun to read.

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

A: It's not Haiku, but it is three lines. We look for reverberation, and I don't care so much about the subject matter. It needs to appeal to some people, but I'm not overly concerned with everyone loving every poem. I want a nice mix, where there is something outstanding for everyone within a wide range of poems in each book. These tiny poems come together with punctuation and line breaks that would never be allowed at the most professional Haiku venues like Haiku Journal and one or two others. What results are collections full of surprises. I like that.

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

A: Keep it short. Choose interesting words with and multiple meanings is better. Try to say more than seems possible on a handful of words. Don't allow one line to be too dependent on another. Never send your first draft. Short poems are not easier.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Write it. Rework it. Read it out loud. Put in in a drawer. Come back and read it again. Rework it. Send it when it's ready or throw it away. It should be something people can relate to. Don't try to be funny. Don't rhyme. When it's ready, you will know. When I read it, I should know.

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

A: They send long lines or rhyme. And then there are the love poems...I don't care if she left you on a bleak Tuesday and the only mark that she was ever yours is the ring of coffee she left indelibly staining the nightstand you have enshrined in your memory. The readers don't care about dribble and I don't print it.

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

A: The submission form we use prevents us from viewing any extra information. We see the poem. We don't know if the poet bought books in the past, or went to Harvard, or anything else. It's a strange phenomena, the way poets what to have pages of publishing credits. I'd much prefer a poet who builds a relationship with presses, and fosters friendships and loyalties in the business. We don't know anything about a writer in the slush pile, unless we have published them and recognize them as one of "ours" in which case we root for their success like they are family.

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

A: Three Lines... I read them all several times before I decide. Occasionally I know fully that a poem is a dud, or a keeper, but usually I revisit them a few times before I decide.

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

A: We check to see if it was printed elsewhere, or plagiarized. Usually more than one reader will comment on a poem. I review the comments after my first read, to try and ensure my attitude is not influenced. Sometimes we send them back for edits.

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

A: A volunteer reader, or my assistant editor will read everything and make comments. I read and review every piece and then review the comments. Usually we all agree, but if we don't then we have arguments and fight like crazy people to defend our favorite poems and protect them from the reject pile... sometimes they throw things at me... it's unseemly.

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

A: I think the future of all books will be POD and all submissions will be electronic. I do like the feel of a good book in my hands and rarely use my Kindle. I advise publishers to lose their attitude about POD books being less professional. It shows they are behind the times, holding onto traditions out of fear for what it might mean. Things have changed. It simply doesn't matter where you were published in the past, and what your pedigree is anymore. Nobody cares except those who try in vain to make it have meaning.
Who is publishing your book doesn't matter the way it used to. Nobody says, "Acme Publishers Always Print Good Books so I'll Buy This Novel." Readers don't care. Very few people even look at the name of the publisher. That has washed away like sidewalk chalk in a deluge. Now people want to hear what Missy in MN thought on her Amazon review, or what John in church thought about a book. We need to face that things have changed. All legitimate publishers are on the same footing now. In the end, it's supposed to be about a great story, or poem. The readers know it is still about that.
How publishers bring those great poems and stories to the world is increasingly important because more and more readers limit themselves to whatever medium they prefer. Some refuse to buy paperbacks, others refuse to e-read. The world used to beat a path to a great story, and they still do, but more and more readers are beating a path to a convenient story. The real trick is making sure readers get good publications in whichever format they choose. That's the only way publishers will survive the changes that are unfolding.