CircleShow publishes poetry, fiction (including flash fiction) and nonfiction. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Seth Jani: You know it developed very organically. I originally started the website as a home for some of my own writing and pretty quickly decided I wanted to build more of a community. The literary journal, CircleShow, was the start of that and the rest of the press came forth from that.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
SJ: The number one thing for poetry is whether or not it’s pleasing to the ear. Originality, freshness of images and ideas all comes after the initial question of “Does the language work?”
This holds true for prose to, although it’s much more quickly followed by the question of is the story interesting? Does it present anything new? Am I startled? Kept involved in unexpected ways?
Beyond that I often look for a sense of historical continuity and awareness. Does the piece enter into a dialog with past writers and artists? Does it follow or elaborate upon a tradition? If not, does it do so purposely?
Art is a very big and very old conversation. Does the piece actively add to and participate in it or is the writer writing from a void into a void. It’s very important to me.
Lastly, though we do try to stay fairly open and keep an eye out for great work from unexpected places, all journals do take on a certain aesthetic. As a result, I have to ask the question of does this work fit with the overall arc of the journal? Does it play well with the other pieces in the issue?
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
SJ: If it’s very clear it was a mass email. For example, if the cover letter is boilerplate and just addressed to “the editors,” or if it’s clear that they have not read any of our past issues. I mean they is one our website for free. At least take the time to get a sense of what we might like. And if you actually just visibly CC’d all the other journals you sent the email to, that’s a deal breaker.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
SJ: Rarely. Although we are likely to do so if you are a writer we have published in the past. We like to maintain relationships once we’ve built them.
SQF: Who are a few of your favorite authors?
SJ: Rilke, Keats, Jane Hirshfield, Edward Hirsch, Joseph Stroud, Charles Wright, Lorca, Neruda, Li Po, Lisle Mueller, Czelaw Milosz, Tom Hennen, Hermann Hesse, Kurt Vonnegut, Borges, Henry Braun and honestly the list goes on and on….
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
SJ: If you reject a submission, should the writer submit to you again?
Yes! Although the volume of submissions we read through mixed with the fact that everyone involved in the press has other full-time jobs/careers means we can’t often send out personalized rejections or comments that doesn’t mean we don’t want to see more of your work. Sometimes we receive some really great work that just barely misses the cut, often for issue-specific aesthetic reasons. It’s sad when we receive such near-misses and then we never hear from the author again. Keep Sending!
Thank you, Seth. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.