Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Six Questions for Kim Göransson, Editor, kitchen

From the website:

"Submit your poems, flash-fiction, photography, scanned post-it notes, unpaid bills, drawings, misplaced love letters and anything else under the sun you think might please us." Read the complete submission guidelines here.

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

KG: I don’t know if I can tie it up neatly in 3s, but what I look for in a story (the same holds true for poetry) is some kind of originality of point of view. That might sound wishy-washy but you can usually spot it if it’s there right away. And by originality I just mean some new and unexpected way of looking at the world, not taking a razor to the dictionary.  Humor is also a nice thing to have going for you, and I don’t mean falling over the chair slapstick funny, but some kind of indication that there’s something human going on. The writing should also have some kind of urgency to it, a drive, letting me know that what is written is somehow important to the writer, that doesn’t just answer the question “why should I care?” but seeks to demolish it.

SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to question one and why?

KG: It’s boring, and I can’t finish reading. I finish reading but don’t feel anything. It’s all right, but something else is better.

SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?

KG: Cleverness, poor cleverness that always makes me think that there’s a story (or poem) there that could be written but isn’t because the writer is too preoccupied with himself writing something rather than the writing itself. Frigidity, cleverness’ tawdry sister, resulting in cold writing. When you read stories or poems with this particular disease you are always aware that it is a poem or a story that you’re reading. Nice cool structures that make you feel absolutely zilch. Now I have nothing against experimental, but good experimental fiction and poetry does not favor form over emotional content, rather the opposite. The emotional has a way of driving you into the most peculiar forms if you just follow.

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

KG: Usually not, unless I felt something but it wasn’t enough. I try to keep it short.

SQF: I read a comment by one editor who said she keeps a blacklist of authors who respond to a rejection in a less than professional manner. I'm sure you know what I mean. What do you want authors to know about the stories you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?

KG: Only a few have responded to a rejection and when they have, they have thanked me for my response. Ours is a fairly new affair though, so I’m sure it will come. I certainly don’t intend to engage in lengthy discourse with a writer I’ve rejected, but I don’t mind if they ask questions (politely or not). I prefer not to be blunt about it, but if someone were to ask, I’m sure I could provide more specific reasons why they weren’t included.

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

KG: What I think about the online publishing world maybe? I think it’s both an opportunity and a curse. Some of these people have been published over 400 times in various magazines. I think it is fair to say if you have something you want to submit, and you’re stubborn enough, there’s at least one place that will accept it. One submitter had written 17 novels and countless poetry books in the last couple of years. It begs the question, what’s important? I think it’s not just about that you can write well, but also what you choose to write, what you choose to publish. As someone said, I don’t remember who, some Frenchman, that it’s the poet's job to put silences around things. Well, there’s not much silence here. I think it’s possible, however, to carve out a little street corner in this vacuum by presenting excellent (human-shaped) writing. If properly framed and cared for, then maybe such a silence will come.

If not, well, there’s always books to read.

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

NEXT POST: 3/25--Six Questions for Cynthia Reeser, Editor-in-Chief, Founder, Prick of the Spindle

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