Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Six Questions for Susan Yount, Editor and Publisher The Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal

The Lobster’s Last Wish 

And your mom would drink until she was no longer speaking
And dad would dream of all the different ways to die
Each one a little more than he could dare to try
—Neutral Milk Hotel

The Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal publishes poetry that is rich in imagery, and edgy. The editors also accepts poetry book reviews. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

SY: I didn’t start the Arsenic Lobster. Jen Hawkins started it in 1999. I stepped in and saved the Lobster from dying in 2004. I saved it from dying because I love life. Death is a significant part of life but I thought I’d keep the arsenic bubbling a few more years.

And because: 
The farm becomes a golf course becomes a subdivision becomes back home. –Callista Buchen 

And because:
I wonder why it is always the children
who smile, why these postcards are addressed
to women.
–Avivia Englander Cristy

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

SY: 1. Duende, because Lorca 2.Grotesque, because I like it and it is close to duende. 
3. Quirk, because quirk makes duende and the grotesque easier to digest. 

And we’re looking for this: 
Little illusion, little stench of hope
what were you like before you came here?
–Kristine Ong Muslim

And this: 
you walk into a room 
and see a clean kitchen
see        that’s what I mean you walk
into a wall
and there’s a clean kitchen
             who cleaned it?
–Jennifer Givhan

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

SY: You mean other than the fact that some do not follow the submission guidelines? Super academic bios. Remember: Intelligence is often the enemy of poetry, because it limits too much, and it elevates the poet to a sharp-edged throne where he forgets that ants could eat him or that a great arsenic lobster could fall suddenly on his head…

Remember this too:
…bitter disagreements over the proper spellings of the janitors’ names… –CL Bledsoe

This too: 
roots—a sister’s
           chestnut hair giving way
           to pinnate veins
like plumes
–Avery Leigh Thomas

And never forget: 
Grandmother led me from one hanging body
to the next: here a man burnt beyond – Aviva Englander Cristy

SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

SY: I’ve learned a lot about what not to write – or, a lot about what other people are already writing. I’ve learned how difficult it is to get published, and I’ve learned about dedication – how hard it is to continue to do the work needed to keep a magazine alive and focus on my own poetry. Other than that, I’ve learned to love writing—even more than my love for life is my love for life with poetry!  I’ve met an amazing group of poets whom I adore and support whole heartedly! I’ve learned that I want to do more. More than I can probably ever do—but I’m going to try. I’ve learned to surround myself with other wonderful and dedicated writers/editors. I’m super thankful for Jessica Dyer and Kat Sanchez who help so much with the ArsenLob! And I’m especially thankful to Lissa Kiernan for her years of dedication and continued support.

I’ve really learned that writing is an art of ruin—needed and painful. 

And I’ve learned this: 
what gives hope hurts. Sadness needs no signifier here. –Christopher Robley 

and this:
someone’s sister struts and cusses,
peels her dress like a condom.
–Alexander Chisum

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

SY: How does the Arsenic Lobster support itself?

The Arsenic Lobster is operated by an entirely volunteer staff and has been funded by the publisher, Susan Yount, since 2005. The Arsenic Lobster does not run contests, kickstarter campaigns or charge reading fees. Arsenic Lobster does not earn money from anyone's desire to be published. Nor does it receive grants, government funding, tax breaks or donations.

Arsenic Lobster earns money by selling books. In 2009, the journal broke even. All the other years since 2005 have been financially supported by the publisher. 

SQF: One final question: What is the Lobster’s last wish?

SY: To continue discovering the amazing voices we keep publishing. 

Like this:
Mortgage Lifters and Brandywines,
hail sliced, an already cracked stem end,
but malleable sweetness prevails, a touch
of acidity, heirlooms holding strong.
–Liz Martin

And this: 
I came until I died, I worked, I said. A supply
of rapid-fire breath on-hand will round out any arsenal.
– Andrew McIntosh

And for you, our dedicated readership, to keep reading and supporting arsenic among lobsters. 

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

NEXT POST: 6/28--Six Questions for Kristy Harding, Founder, Paper Tape

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