Editor Interview: Sonora Review

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

A: Innovative F/P/CNF

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

A: DIAGRAM, Spork Press, Black Warrior Review, Seneca Review, The Volta, Ploughshares, Tin House, Kenyon Review, McSweeney's, Prairie Schooner, Fairy Tale Review, Missouri Review, Unstuck, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Fence

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

A: Kate Bernheimer, David Foster Wallace, Dave Eggers, Joni Tevis, Salman Rushdie, Ander Monson, Aurelie Sheehan, Manuel Munoz, Lucy Corin, Dawn Lundy Martin, Jonathan Safran Foer, Annie Dillard, Dinty Moore, John McPhee, Claudie Rankin, Joan Didion, Kazim Ali, Nick Flynn, C. D. Wright, Italo Calvino, Kevin Brockmeier, Jenny Boully, Pablo Neruda, Clarice Lispector, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, George Saunders, Steven Millhauser, Joy Williams, Lydia Millet

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

A: Our editorial staff is a one-year constitution, meaning every two issues, our taste-testers get swapped out. Traditionalists give the baton to experimentalists, experimentalists to formalists, formalists to lyricists, lyricists to minimalists, etc. We are a kinetic publication with an always-evolving nucleus of staffers. If you didn't get published in 2013, try again; the alumni are loooong gone.

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

A: DON'T read our previous issues. Well, read them, sure, we'd like to get some of these back issues out of our closet, but really, it might only confuse you if you use our previous issues as a basis for your next submission since we have such a quick editorial turnover. We tend to skew toward formally innovative work because that's the emphasis of the MFA program at the University of Arizona (think Ander Monson, Kate Bernheimer, Josh Wilkinson). Just send along your best work!

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: It should be spare, not swollen. It should be sincere, not precious. Formal ambition is good, but it should either a) be formally excellent -or- b) triumphantly own its failures as a form (nothing in between). It should be astonishingly human (or eerily cyborg). It should not remind us explicitly of something we've read before (no imitations), but rather, it should be innovative but harbor nuanced echoes of the things that inspire you.

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

A: Be sure to submit to the right category (fiction, poetry, or nonfiction), and there's no need to withdraw your submission and re-submit (thereby accruing another reading fee) for small edits, formatting, or typos. If we like your work enough, we'll ask for those kinds of edits.

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

A: We want to know about your previous publications -- this gives us an idea of your aesthetic up front. A word count of the piece is also nice. Keep personal information to a minimum. There is something honest and endearing about letting the work speak for itself. No matter your resume, we seek to publish the best writing, not the best writers. The best story by an unpublished author could very well be better than the worst by a Pulitzer Prize-winner. Also, if you have many cats and they have cute names and they are your creative muses, it's probably best (IMHO) to leave such things left unsaid.

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

A: In fiction, all of it. By two readers. Minimum. In non-fiction, all of it. By two readers. Minimum. In poetry, all of it. By two readers. Minimum. The only exception is a piece of long piece of prose that makes repeated errors in an uninteresting (accidental) way as to render the submission incomprehensible. Our staff is dedicated to the consideration of your work as a whole.

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

A: None. The more method we apply to the evaluation of submissions, the less organic the result. Therefore, we keep our conversations about the submissions limited to its integrity as a piece within the genre it was submitted.

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

A: One of the biggest responsibilities of being editor is communicating with genre editors, staff, the blog editor, graphic designer, graduate faculty supervisor, departmental supervisor, undergraduate interns, financial consultant, etc. All of these people play significant roles in the production of Sonora Review. My major responsibilities, along with my co-editor Mike Coakley, are securing grant funding, advertising the magazine, developing new projects, organizing community readings, running contests and selecting contest judges, responding to submitter/reader emails, maintaining a database of libraries and individuals that receive our journal (and sending the journals out), AWP considerations, and troubleshooting a miscellany of problems that a lit magazine can encounter.

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

A: In the foreseeable future, Sonora Review will remain a primarily print journal. However, we recognize the modern convenience that online submissions managers pose to writers in search of lost time. Additionally, we are slowly but surely developing our web presence, either through social networking or through blog projects. The dialogue between print and digital sources will only get louder in the coming decade. So much of this dialogue, though, is experimental and bombastic. Sonora Review seeks to participate in this dialogue in a meaningful way. Rather than shock the literary tradition, we hope to find ways to evolve it.