Art can be an agent for change in the world. To that end, Word Soup publishes poetry of all forms on the theme of hunger in an effort to feed the hungry. "For each submission, we ask for a six-dollar donation that will equally benefit the Rhode Island Community Food Bank (RICFB) and Share Our Strength, a national organization that helps to feed children.” Ending hunger one poem at a time. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Kim Baker: I have been haunted for many years about the fact that there are hungry people in the world. Food is a basic human need. One cannot live without it. There are many worthy causes, and I donate time and/or money to them as do many people. But feeding people is the best way I know of to spend time and money. I have never been happier combining my love of poetry with such a need in the world. And I am awed by the poets who submit. Kindred spirits with such soul and compassion.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
KB: The first thing I look for is excellence. Poetry is an art form, and I love and want to publish great art.
Second, I want to publish accessible poetry that anyone, poetically inclined or not, will want to read and can read and understand.
Third, I want to publish poetry with soul. For instance, I love the music in poetry, so I write with that in mind. I want that soul to shine forth in my poetry. So I am looking for whatever the poet's soul is saying that moves me with its attention to the detail of that voice. Authenticity is key, and it shines through in poetry I want to publish.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
KB: I cannot say that a submission turns me off. A poet's voice is valuable to the poet who must write and to the world where someone will be moved and changed by the message. I select poems that move me and move the guest editors who help me select. If the poem moves us, we select it. If not, we return it to the poet to find a better home for it.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
KB: I do not provide comments. I select poems based on how they speak to me with poetic excellence, strong authenticity and voice, and relationship to the theme. I might read a fine poem that just doesn't suit the publication. That doesn't mean that poem won't move someone else with a difference aesthetic and criteria.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
KB: I have learned that when the poetry is authentic and has a strong voice and attention to conventions of poetry, it sings. And the reader can hear that song and be moved, and even changed, by it.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it.
Thank you, Kim. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 2/25--Six Questions for Diana May-Waldman & Mitchell Waldman, Editors, Blue Lake Review