Friday, February 12, 2016

Six Questions for Sophie Essex, Editor, Fur-lined Ghettos

Fur-Lined Ghettos is an experimental poetry/prose print-only magazine with a focus on the surreal & the absurd. Submissions are open year-round for your weirdness. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Sophie Essex: I think there came a point where it'd been spoken about so often that Fur-Lined Ghettos was a reality before realisation.

As for a natural birthing? I'd been writing short abstract pieces that I felt didn't have a home in any of the lit-mags I was aware of so I created my own market (though I've never published myself). So yes, I'd been throwing the idea around for a while but never quite had the impetus until one January Saturday when I did.

Of course it's all about promoting the writers I love / sharing them with new audiences / & creating something special in the process. Fur-Lined Ghettos is print-only & limited. I like the permanency of print / the transitory nature of short print-runs.


SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

SE: I'm out with definitions.

It's simple. If I read a submission that creates a positive emotional reaction then it's perfect for Fur-Lined Ghettos. I've tried to answer this question many times but always find it impossible. How can you define something you've yet to read?


SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

SE: Now & then I'll receive a submission where someone claims to have read a copy of the magazine then proceed to gush something generic. Don't lie with such obviousness. & if you are going to lie at least make it interesting!

Again, I'm unwilling to reject something I've not yet read.

I think some folk would say you need to have defined guidelines but I don't see the fun in that. I hope there's a definite feel to Fur-Lined Ghettos & the type of work I publish, though also hope that it's hard to pin down. That it's more emotional than literal.


SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

SE: Not unless asked. It's time consuming, plus it's only my opinion. Rejections are not personal, and I think giving my opinion could make it so. If a submission came close to acceptance, I may say why it missed out.


SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors, who would they be and why?

SE: I'm in love with Tristan Tzara.

In 'Volt' he writes:

"... Over the sterile plain towards the smooth flesh the lava
Of shadowy mountains the apocalyptic temptations
Lost in the landscape of a memory and a darkened rose
I roam the narrow streets around you
While you too roam different wider streets
Round something other"

He is perfection & gorgeousity & lamb.

My second choice would be Taylor Swift. Again, I'm in love. Swift has this lyrical perfection that makes me swoon; "you call me up again just to break me like a promise / so casually cruel in the name of being honest". Just! On a personal level my obsessions focus on love & emotional attachment and I find that with Swift I relate in indefinable ways. Plus, she's such a sweetheart. I would go for milkshakes with her any day.

The third would be Bjork. Every so often I'll find my way back to her when I'm in need of nature or a spark. Bjork has been a subtle yet powerful influence on my own writing / my relationships. (I totally named my daughter after my favourite record)


SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

SE: Perhaps: What other publishing projects are you working on?

I recently set up Salò Press. Again because there was no choice. There are writers I want to read / want to share. Whilst some of them are publishing gorgeous perfect little chapbooks I was lusting after full-length collections. So that's my focus.

The first is Dalton Day's Actual Cloud. Dalton is a dream. He has this soft surreal perspective on the world, it's a beautiful ache, a charm. He often makes me cry for which I'm thankful.

"Neon in your fists

Flickering

Splintering harmlessly
the things you've
spent time holding

Like people

But mostly your knuckles
Flickering..."

from Wore Thousand


There has been an abundance of love & gratitude for bringing Actual Cloud to print; it's overwhelming how kind folk can be. I'm happy to be providing a home of sorts to voltaic voices I love.

Our second title is Scherezade Siobhan's collection Father, Husband for which I struggle to describe. It's a stunning, powerful book. I have no doubt that one day she'll have us all in awe.

"this is how you become / a dexterous anagrammatist / if you rearrange rape, you get pare / to peel, trim, carve / you drag the knife across the stomach / of a syrian pear. you let your fingers cauterize / with the syrup of fruit, you let / the ruptured flesh flee in baby bell curls / you are not eight anymore / or in staccato, you are not ache anymore / when you are 16, the summer has a body / like yours..."

                                                                            from anagrammatist

Submissions are open for various projects.  I'm excited about the future.

Thank you, Sophie. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Six Questions for Chris Lott, Editor, Concīs

Concīs publishes poetry to 25 lines and fiction to 300 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Chris Lott: In the spirit of concision: nearly 20 years after creating one of the earliest and, at the time, rather innovative online literary journals (Eclectica Magazine), I decided the time was right to reveal my guilty pleasure---my forbidden literary love---of tiny, powerful writing.

Now to meander: I also saw an opportunity to meld my desire to create a publication that distinguishes itself by honoring and respecting authors in every way possible---from response times and providing proofs to presentation and promotion well after the publication---with my frankly personal need to engage in a charitable project. My system in which authors are paid or can become donors to a great charity does both.

And I've become frustrated with the proliferation of online journals that not only don't pay authors but even force authors to pay for the privilege of submitting the work they've labored over. I understand their reasons for these practices but can't agree with them. I guess that's another part of my version of honoring and respecting the writers whose hard work make anything I do possible!


SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

CL: Tough question since it could be rephrased as "explicate your intuition." That said:

1. Power. As I say in our guidelines, "We want poetry and prose of the two-inch punch. Pull the pin from the grenade. Bring us the bud exploding into flower. Surprise us." That's both personal and hard to understand, which is why it's so important to read what I've published already and peruse my constantly growing commonplace book of inspirations (http://concis.io/about/inspirations/). That's the best insight you'll have into my head and heart.

2. Individual voice. Writing a poem as powerful as Joseph Stroud or a flash fiction as profound as Lydia Davis is good; writing work that sounds just like them isn't. I want work that no one else could've written (unless one can ascend to Pierre Menard-ian heights).

3. Diversity. Concīs isn't genre-specific; I'd love to see more flash nonfiction, micro-reviews, work that combines words and visuals, American Sentences, tanka and other tiny forms, and exuberant experimentation with heart (could I get any more vague?)


SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

CL: Most *often*: misspellings, typos, broken formatting, obviously wrong punctuation and not paying attention to my guidelines.

Most *intensely*: work that confuses being incomplete with being concise. I receive a lot of work where I don't sense that the writers have fulfilled their side of the implicit contract between author and would-be publisher, work that hasn't been carefully honed. As Pascal put it in a letter, "I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter." Writing short means writing hard.

Bonus: judging from the flood of work I can easily reject, writers should think twice---or ten times---about attempting comedic writing or love (lost, gained, found, missed, whatever) poems.


SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

CL: Sometimes. I've had some success suggesting revisions and working with authors to rescue work from the rejection pile. A prose poem I recently published was the subject of nearly a dozen back-and-forth revisions before it felt right. If a work is close---and some work bounces around in my head and between the accept and reject pile for a few weeks---I let the author know. Because of the volume it isn't possible to provide comments to everyone. But I was amused when a writer told me that my rejection letter was so "lovely" that he actually read it as part of a poetry reading he was taking part in!


SQF: What are a few magazines/zines you read?

* The aforementioned Eclectica
* Right Hand Pointing
* One Sentence Poems
* Smokelong Quarterly
* Seven by Twenty
* Broadsided
* Frogpond
* The Heron's Nest 
* just about every literary and cultural magazine at the local bookstore.


SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

If Concīs had a soundtrack, what would be on it?

A start:

* "John Allyn Smith Sails" (Okkervil River)
* "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" (Neutral Milk Hotel)
* "Where is My Mind" (The Pixies)
* "Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime" (Beck)
* "To the Dogs or Whoever" (Josh Ritter)
* "Reconstruction Site" (The Weakerthans)
* "Rain When I Die" (Alice in Chains)
* "It's a Wonderful Life" (Sparklehorse)
* "Let Love Rule" (Lenny Kravitz)
* "Singing in my Sleep" (Semisonic)
* "Flirted With You All My Life" (Vic Chesnutt)
* "Say it Ain't So" (Weezer)
* "On the Radio" (Regina Spektor)
* "Ruby, My Dear" (John Coltrane & Thelonious Monk)
* "Jesus, Etc." (Wilco)
* "Annie Waits" (Ben Folds)
* "Brian Wilson" (Barenaked Ladies)
* "Ghost World" (Aimee Mann)
* "Coast of Carolina" (Telekinesis)
* "Ticket to the Moon" (Electric Light Orchestra)

Thank you, Chris. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Six Questions for Amanda Faye, Founding Editor, Alyss

Alyss publishes poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and art by female identifying writers/artists. Read the compete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Amanda Faye: You can read a rambling version of how Alyss came to be in the Letter from the Editor of Issue One.  Basically, I was very unhappy with my MFA experience and being pummeled with works that just didn’t connect with me but everyone swore were perfect examples of “How to Write a Story” or “How to Write A Poem”.  My general dissatisfaction turned to defiance after one of my professors professed during workshop that there was no place for politics in poetry.  I strongly believe that Art is Political and that we have a responsibility with each piece we create to make it mean something.  For me the best work challenges you to think, feel and maybe even take action. I also grew up in the Riot Grrrl and East Bay Punk Rock scenes which are all about DIY ethics.  Therefore, starting an online literary zine and filling it with the types of stories, poems, essays and art work I think needs a wider audience just made sense.


SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

AF: The most important thing is for a piece to make me feel something. It doesn’t matter if it’s anger, shock, giddiness, discomfort or jealousy over the fact that I didn’t write it myself.  I just want to feel something real as a result of reading your work.  Secondly, it’s important that the piece isn’t relying on shock tactics.  I want it to feel authentic and that whatever is written/presented is done because it’s vital to making the piece work. Thirdly, a killer opening. Every submission is read all the way through but the ones that start off with a great first line or paragraph are more likely to progress to the next stage.


SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

AF: If you put a bird in it I’ll probably hate it. Unless the bird is dead. Also, no –isms.  Sadly, I’ve had a few works come through that had really problematic portrayals of POV characters.  While Alyss is not a feminist or punk zine per se it’s best to approach it as such so any piece with components such as slut shaming or bigotry are not going to find a home here.


SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

AF: Only to pieces we feel are a good fit for Alyss but have one or more issues that preclude us from publishing it.  In that case I like to give the writer a heads up about what is and isn’t working for us and hope they take up our offer to resubmit.


SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors, who would they be and why?

AF: JK Rowling as she is a huge inspiration for me.  The way she’s taken her story about a boy wizard and spawned an entire universe that has touched the lives of millions and provided a platform for her to do very meaningful work on social justice issues is incredible.  Malcolm Gladwell because basically I have the hugest crush on him and have enjoyed all his books. And finally, Anne Rice whose Vampire Chronicles got me through junior high, high school and undergrad.  The hero of that series Lestat was the first literary character I fell in actual love with. Having read interviews with her over the years I’m sure she’d be an amazing dinner guest.


SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

AF: What motivates you to continue the whole online lit journal thing?  I’d say it’s the writers who put their trust and faith in Alyss by allowing us to publish their work and all the writers who show their support for our lil journal by submitting and telling their friends about it.  We’ve been incredibly lucky to read and publish some really great work by amazing up and coming writers.

Thank you, Amanda. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Six Questions for Christopher James, Editor, Jellyfish Review

Jellyfish Review publishes flash fiction to 1000 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Christopher James: There’s an island about two hours from me which used to be shaped like a C.  Something happened, the island shifted, and it turned into an O, a circle of land around a trapped lake. Inside this lake were hundreds of jellyfish, but no jellyfish predators. As a result, in the thousands of years since C became O, the jellyfish have lost their sting. They’ve become harmless.

I think flash fiction needs challenge and change as much as jellyfish do, or the genre will end up safe and toothless. Already there are great venues closing down. Submitting is becoming more expensive. Great stories are still being published, but many more are not. It’s important to have new venues with new perspectives and new audiences. Otherwise, flash fiction will also lose its sting. In truth, that’s probably just one of about a million reasons why I started the magazine.


SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

CJ: None of these are necessary or sufficient, but
  1. BEAUTY
  2. STING, and
  3. INTELLIGENCE
There have been some great images in the stories we’ve accepted so far which, I think, have all of these things. Swans strangled and left for dead by drunken sailors on pristine lawns. Plants and flowers growing between shards of broken glass. A mother, holding her child, jumping from a darkened boat into the night-time sea. If you can capture something like that in a story, we’ll probably fall in love with it.


SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

CJ: This is easy. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, pogonophobia, trypophobia… so on, so on. I don’t mind if a story is mean and nasty, but it must have something to justify it. Otherwise we don’t want it.


SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

CJ: Often, yes, though even when rejecting we focus on what we liked, not on why we passed.


SQF: Who are some of your favorite flash fiction authors?

CJ: There are so many!

I love Kuzhali Manickavel and everything she writes.

One of my favourite writers right now is Elaine Chiew. She won the Bridport Prize a few years back and has recently edited a collection of short stories called Cooked Up. In fact, I enjoy Elaine’s writing so much I asked her if she could submit a piece, and was lucky enough to have her send us a really wonderful piece.

Randall Brown often gets mentioned in these lists – not just because of his writing but because of the passion for flash fiction he has and inspires. And, to keep this list to just four names, I don’t know that much about Rolli—but everything I read by him is great. Funny, smart, and devastating.


SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

CJ: No other questions; I’d just like to say thank you for having us at Six Questions For.., and to invite everyone to read the magazine. Here’s the website again: https://jellyfishreview.wordpress.com/.

Thank you, Christopher. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.