Editor Interview: Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize

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

A: poetry collections

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

A: Coffee House Press, Talisman

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

A: David Ignatow, H.R. Hays, Charles Matz--my mentors

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

A: We take care with the design of our books. A number of them have photographs, drawings and other visual artwork, along with the poems. We encourage our writers to work with us on the design of their books, as well as aiding us in reaching their best audience.

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

A: So many of the submissions we receive reflect a professionalism in their composition. However, professionalism is not enough. We looks for writing with heart--enthusiasm and focus. Each manuscript is read by at least two editors with diverse tastes. We are not beholden to particular schools of poetry. Each year our contest is judged by a prominent poet. You should make yourself familiar with each judge's poetry. Decided whether the judge would be sympathetic to your work. In the end, if you make it to the finals, that poet will be judging you.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: A manuscript with heart.

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

A: Entrance rules are not complex but require attention. We judge manuscripts blindly to avoid favoritism and accept only those submissions that do not include in the body of the manuscript any specific information as to the author's identity. Very often, submitters ignore this and have their names somewhere in the work, even on every page. If we can't erase these we return the manuscripts.

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

A: Publication credits for poems in the manuscript. Otherwise, until the winner is found, the contest is judged blindly.

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

A: We read through each manuscript to be sure of overall quality. Editors might make up their minds about a work early when it is either obviously very good or very bad. But most manuscripts require a thorough reading.

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

A: The winner of the yearly contest will have his or her manuscript read by six editors and the contest judge.

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

A: As publisher, my job is to oversee editing and book production as well as to confer with authors. After the contest deadline we send the print submissions to editors near our base--the New York City area. Electronic submissions go to our editors on the west coast. Please see our Web site for a thorough outline of our judging process.

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

A: We encourage electronic submissions (see our Web site). In addition to print books we are preparing a line of multi-media eBooks.