Fur-Lined Ghettos is an experimental poetry/prose print-only magazine with a focus on the surreal & the absurd. Submissions are open year-round for your weirdness. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Sophie Essex: I think there came a point where it'd been spoken about so often that Fur-Lined Ghettos was a reality before realisation.
As for a natural birthing? I'd been writing short abstract pieces that I felt didn't have a home in any of the lit-mags I was aware of so I created my own market (though I've never published myself). So yes, I'd been throwing the idea around for a while but never quite had the impetus until one January Saturday when I did.
Of course it's all about promoting the writers I love / sharing them with new audiences / & creating something special in the process. Fur-Lined Ghettos is print-only & limited. I like the permanency of print / the transitory nature of short print-runs.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
SE: I'm out with definitions.
It's simple. If I read a submission that creates a positive emotional reaction then it's perfect for Fur-Lined Ghettos. I've tried to answer this question many times but always find it impossible. How can you define something you've yet to read?
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
SE: Now & then I'll receive a submission where someone claims to have read a copy of the magazine then proceed to gush something generic. Don't lie with such obviousness. & if you are going to lie at least make it interesting!
Again, I'm unwilling to reject something I've not yet read.
I think some folk would say you need to have defined guidelines but I don't see the fun in that. I hope there's a definite feel to Fur-Lined Ghettos & the type of work I publish, though also hope that it's hard to pin down. That it's more emotional than literal.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
SE: Not unless asked. It's time consuming, plus it's only my opinion. Rejections are not personal, and I think giving my opinion could make it so. If a submission came close to acceptance, I may say why it missed out.
SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors, who would they be and why?
SE: I'm in love with Tristan Tzara.
In 'Volt' he writes:
"... Over the sterile plain towards the smooth flesh the lava
Of shadowy mountains the apocalyptic temptations
Lost in the landscape of a memory and a darkened rose
I roam the narrow streets around you
While you too roam different wider streets
Round something other"
He is perfection & gorgeousity & lamb.
My second choice would be Taylor Swift. Again, I'm in love. Swift has this lyrical perfection that makes me swoon; "you call me up again just to break me like a promise / so casually cruel in the name of being honest". Just! On a personal level my obsessions focus on love & emotional attachment and I find that with Swift I relate in indefinable ways. Plus, she's such a sweetheart. I would go for milkshakes with her any day.
The third would be Bjork. Every so often I'll find my way back to her when I'm in need of nature or a spark. Bjork has been a subtle yet powerful influence on my own writing / my relationships. (I totally named my daughter after my favourite record)
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
SE: Perhaps: What other publishing projects are you working on?
I recently set up Salò Press. Again because there was no choice. There are writers I want to read / want to share. Whilst some of them are publishing gorgeous perfect little chapbooks I was lusting after full-length collections. So that's my focus.
The first is Dalton Day's Actual Cloud. Dalton is a dream. He has this soft surreal perspective on the world, it's a beautiful ache, a charm. He often makes me cry for which I'm thankful.
"Neon in your fists
the things you've
spent time holding
But mostly your knuckles
from Wore Thousand
There has been an abundance of love & gratitude for bringing Actual Cloud to print; it's overwhelming how kind folk can be. I'm happy to be providing a home of sorts to voltaic voices I love.
Our second title is Scherezade Siobhan's collection Father, Husband for which I struggle to describe. It's a stunning, powerful book. I have no doubt that one day she'll have us all in awe.
"this is how you become / a dexterous anagrammatist / if you rearrange rape, you get pare / to peel, trim, carve / you drag the knife across the stomach / of a syrian pear. you let your fingers cauterize / with the syrup of fruit, you let / the ruptured flesh flee in baby bell curls / you are not eight anymore / or in staccato, you are not ache anymore / when you are 16, the summer has a body / like yours..."
Submissions are open for various projects. I'm excited about the future.
Thank you, Sophie. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.