Friday, August 30, 2013

Six Questions for Alexander J. Smith and Adonis Leboho, Editors, Dead Beats

Dead Beats is a Sheffield-based, student-run publishing and performance poetry organisation, set up to cultivate literary aestheticism. The site works as an interactive publishing space which showcases poems, short stories (max. 2000 words) and experimental pieces. Read the submission guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this blog?

A&A: Dead Beats originated from a post-seminar study group at the University of Sheffield. From the initial membership of this group, numbers dwindled to form a three-man membership.

Under the moniker Dead Beats, we created a social media platform which would provide a  space for unpublished writers, especially young (student) writers, to  share their work. Taking cues from the counter-cultural literary sentiments of the Beat Generation, we hope to rekindle the self-expressive and socially aware messages that they articulated.

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

A&A: I don't think we select poems by means of any few 'key' ingredients; usually, our selection criteria can be derived from the holistic effect or impact of the piece. Particularly evocative pieces engender a certain response and this general lack of prescriptiveness allows us to engage with all manner of different pieces.

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

A&A: This isn't so much of a mistake but there  is a general misconception amongst some of our contributors that we are only  interested in work of a Beat orientation, and yet, Dead Beats publishes any work  of an inspired or inspiring nature; the Beats guided the ethics of the blog but their work doesn't define our goals.

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

A&A: We started out doing so, but after about a year of providing feedback we found that this didn't really offer much to the contributor. We generally take the pieces as they are and only in special circumstances collaborate with the author on changes.

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

A&A: There are certain recurrent themes in the writing that we receive. We do not know whether this is an expression of inter-subjective experiences in 21st century life or what but, nonetheless, there is something telling about the distaste of mass-produced images, a predilection towards abstract values and a nostalgia for a reality other than the one authors seem to be living that is encoded into a lot of the contributed pieces.

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

A&A: 'Does publishing sometimes get routine, like you are a simply a conveyor belt for creativity?'

We are taking certain steps to engage more both with authors and readers in order to deepen the experience of creating and reading. Watch this space!

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

NEXT POST: 9/3--Six Questions for Mary Stone Dockery, Co-editor, Stone Highway Review

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