Editor Interview: Print-Oriented Bastards

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

A: Work we remember for days

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

A: Copper Canyon Press, Ecco Press, Graywolf Press, Button Poetry, Birdfeast, POETRY, Rhino, Tin House, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Salmagundi, Crab Orchard Poetry Series, Organic WeaponArts, YesYes Books.

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

A: Junot Diaz, Haruki Murakami, Yusef Komunyakaa, Jack Gilbert, Dean Young, Robert Hass, Louise Gluck

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

A: As long as it’s good writing, we’ll put rocknroll beside the fine china exhibit. Physically, the book itself is small enough to fit anywhere, each issue a new edition of the artist’s “little black book.” We are also an international journal, introducing artists and writers from various continents to each other.

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

A: Make sure it is your best work. You don’t have to have read our journal to check out our “style,” but at least look at the quality level of what we publish. Stand behind it, or nobody else will.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: We want to get lost in the work, to remember it and believe in it, to feel that the author has invested themselves wholeheartedly into the piece. Is it striking and original, does it make us rethink the world?

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

A: Because we are a young journal publishing emerging artists, people tend to underestimate the quality level of work. We want artists' absolute best. They don’t read enough as writers, and they don’t invest enough into the work. It shows. We’re hardasses. We’re bastards, and we’re willing to stand behind a piece, but if the author isn’t proud of their own work, why should they expect us to be?

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

A: Cover letters and bios are intended to make us look at a submission more closely, but we often read the piece before even looking at the bio so we can be more objective. However, whether we accept the piece or not, bios help us see the author as a real person taking initiative with their art. It is so easy to forget that artists are real people. Also, if someone we like is published somewhere we’ve never heard of, we do a little research to expand our own individual aesthetics.

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

A: We read every single word of every single piece. Often we will reread them, and we take a long time discussing potentials. Most of the time, it is easy to tell when a piece captures your whole attention, but we give every piece a chance to do so on a first or even third round.

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

A: Once we note a piece that we really like, we consider its significance and impact on us, and finally we ask whether it can stand up to the other things we’ve chosen for the issue. In a way, we grade on a curve.

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

A: We read year-round, so every spare minute is spent shuffling through submissions. We read them in the order they come in, so as to be fair to early birds. The editors all make their individual votes and comments, and then we bring them all together. We talk about nearly every piece, even the definite rejections, and then challenge each other to defend the “why” of the piece we like, even if we agree with the voting. Decisions go out to discussed submissions a day or two after the meeting. Every decision must be unanimous. If the editors are not all on board, we set it aside for another close reading.

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

A: We are adamant about being a print-oriented journal, but we recognize the need for technological integration. What does it mean that so much is now digitally "printed?" We are connected to nearly every social networking service out there in order to reach a wider audience. With art moving inevitably toward the internet, we understand that it is both easier and cheaper to use technology. Word spreads faster, organization of electronic files and correspondence is more reliable and easier to maintain, communities spring up overnight, platforms are raised and voices are shared. Look how much art is being created using technology. It’s an entire new market of some brilliant work that can easily be otherwise overlooked. We like to think we put the bite back into gigabytes of clean, fresh literature.