Monday, April 16, 2012

Six Questions for Helen Ivory, Editor, Ink Sweat & Tears

"Ink Sweat & Tears explores the borderline between poetry and prose. In other words that point in creative writing where prose poetry (or free verse) meets poetic prose.  We are also a platform for work which combines word and image, or work which is ekphrastic in nature." Read the complete guidelines here.

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

HI: Originality, balance, a strong voice. Because this is what I look for in art.

SQF: When reading a submission, what clues tell you the submission was written by a novice author?

HI: I have been teaching creative writing for about twelve years. New writers do not always recognise what cliches are, they sometimes mix metaphors or find it difficult to translate the image in their head to the page. There are sometimes too many words in the novice writer’s writing, so it is baggy and repetitive. As a tutor, I can help people with this but as an editor I don’t have the time to. 

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

HI: If somebody just fires their work and a bio at me without a little ‘Hello,’ it’s just rude. I am not a machine! If somebody doesn’t read the submission guidelines, that’s annoying. If somebody sends me six files to open, rather than putting it into one document, that’s riling, too. I just spent two full days responding to submissions, so having as few mouse-clicks as possible really helps with the mouse-hand RSI.

Oh, and if somebody sends me a decent poem with a cliched image attached to it, or a great image with some cliched words attached to them, that’s not annoying. It’s just disappointing.

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

HI: I stopped doing this after a particularly nasty exchange with a poet who wasn’t interested in my opinion. I think he was the rudest man I’d ever had the misfortune to encounter! These days, I get so many submissions, there really isn’t time to comment on everything either, so I tend not to. There are classes and courses for this kind of thing.

SQF: What do you consider to be the primary responsibilities of an editor?

HI: To share new work with people. To give good work a platform. I do not have a manifesto as such, I am fairly eclectic and magpie-like.

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

HI: Um...something about the visual work on IS&T. I have always had an interest in word and image. I am a poet and an artist. I am keen to show the many ways that word and image can work together, and welcome contributions of this kind. We will be re-launching IS&T at the end of this month as a Wordpress site, which will provide a better showcase for this kind of work.

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

NEXT POST: 4/19--Six Questions for Robin Black, Fiction Editor, Inch Magazine


  1. I found this interview extremely helpful and interesting. Thank you for excellent questions and answers!