Friday, November 24, 2017

Six Questions For Bil Sabab, Editor, Brave New Word

Brave New Word is an online magazine about experimental art and writing. Since experimental writing is in an ever-obscure state, writers and artists need to have reliable place to show their works and get exposed. And that is what BNW is all about – showing different kinds of experimental art without imposing editorial politics onto the artist. BNW is like quicksilver – there can be conceptual writing, visual poetry, asemic writing, transcripts of sound poetry, flarf, spoetry, image macro, codework, collage, cut-ups, cyphertext – anything. BNW is about showing and sharing things to the world. Learn more here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Bil Sabab: I wanted to do a perfect experimental art and writing magazine – the ultimate example of capabilities of the form. Because outside of “The Otoliths,” there are barely any mags that really are trying to push boundaries. “Ex-Ex-Lit” is probably the closest, but aside from the aforementioned – none. My problem with the majority of magazines and blogs which deal with all things experimental is that it is not really daring to do something completely different – they just show some stuff. I wanted to do a magazine with cohesive structure that would transcend all the parts to a new level – so that every issue will be not only an assorted collection of various pieces in a certain sequence but a work of art in itself.

It all started in 2012 when Andriy Antonovskiy invited me to his joint called SEKS-Ua ( At that point it was just a LiveJournal group where members posted some stuff – historic pieces and their own. It was inert and nobody seemed to be interested in doing something collectively. For some reason, it was notorious on the Ukrainian segment of LiveJournal. It was a heat magnet for those who defended traditional Ukrainian culture (so-called “sharovarschina”). Those outside detractors seemed to hate the group so much they flooded the comments section with incredible amount of hate speech. Every day Andriy and I were deleting tons of really nasty comments with threats and insults of all styles. It was ridiculous. However, no other conversation was going inside the group. It felt dumb.

So I decided to take matters in my own hands and find proper audience for the concept. The group evolved into a full-blown blog on Blogspot by the end of the year ( and from that point it was more oriented on English-speaking audience with occasional u-turns to Ukrainians.

My original intention was to make a big playground for artists and writers. For a while it worked well – but it was a mess in every conceivable way. Just a whole lotta posts about everything and nothing in particular. Something I didn’t really want to do. After a while I got bored with it, and now it is a zombie blog albeit with huge audience.

But the idea of making coherent experimental magazine thrived, and I was looking for a place to realize it. By the end of 2015 I was invited to edit "The Kitchen Poet," and it was a testing ground for some of my ideas. However it was plagued by lack of communication with the rest of the team, and so I quit in June 2016. I’ve posted some stuff and that’s about it. Later that year I was talking with Matt Margo about some everyday stuff. We were kidding around, and that’s where I dropped “Brave New Word” first. I thought it was the corniest, campiest title that can be ever conceived. But it grew on me, and later it became an actual title of the magazine.

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

I like a basic structure of a submission letter: short bio-note, photo, pieces for consideration and some comments on the works (the latter is optional). I tend to keep my own literary tastes to myself when I’m considering the piece. I think about whether or not that particular piece is interesting from thematic and formal standpoint on its own and whether or not it will add something to the current issue. Aside from that, I don’t like when writers are trying to adapt and bend themselves according to editorial politics. I think it’s wrong. BNW prime directive is to let writers to be themselves.

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

I’m tough so I can get through even most incoherent submission letters. A couple of times it resulted in finding really worthy pieces. But usually the main turn off is when somebody is sending something completely inappropriate for the magazine – pornography (the one piece that still haunts is eleven-page score for lesbian 69 mutual fisting pumping stomp), or plain bad writing and insists on it being experimental and thus accepted. I don’t like to get into conflicts but usually such people don’t like to be rejected and this results in really ugly replies. That is really weary.

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

BS: At first – when the submission was small – I was trying to thoroughly explain why this or that piece was rejected. But things started to roll and it became counterproductive, so usually I’m just saying “no”. After all BNW is not the only mag in the world – there are others worth trying.

SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and what question would you ask each of them.?

BS: I don’t like spiritism (but I’ve met Ezra Pound once while tripping on acid, he was annoying) so I’ll stick to the living. Three is not enough. I’ll take five. I would to have a dinner with Amanda Earl, Gary Barwin, Jez Noond, John M. Bennett and Yuriy Tarnawskiy. It would be “My Dinner with Andre” kind of conversation. Not even closely about art – because it would be an overkill. Just some hang out babble-ramble about nothing in particular.

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

BS: I guess it’s a bit rude to complain that you’re not asked about something you wanted to be asked. If that not happened – there’s no point in forcing it into existence.

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

BS: I appreciate the chance to tell people about my little project and thankful for you giving that opportunity.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Six Questions for David Walker and Joey Gould, Editors, Golden Walkman Magazine

Golden Walkman Magazine is an audio-produced product that publishes poetry of any length and fiction/non-fiction/craft essays to 3,000 words. They also provide occasional music prompts, called Dialogue Submissions, in which authors respond to an original piece of music and once a year run an (Audio) Chapbook Competition. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

David Walker: I love the idea of a literary magazine; it feels so communal. A collection of writers who often have never met working in concert with each other to create one piece of art, whether in print or online - there’s few things if anything else like it in the world. I specifically got hooked on the idea of making it a podcast because that’s what I’ve been obsessed with for the past six or seven years. The thought of listening to a literary magazine on my commute to work or while folding laundry or on my morning runs was too cool to pass up. I also find that I have a very weird mix of aesthetics in writing that I like and having them all under one roof was an itch of mine that wasn’t being scratched. I figured this was the best way to champion the writing I admire.

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

DW: For one, imagery. I’m not sure what it is about a unique sensory description of a common anything that makes my synapses fire, but I’m a sucker for any submission that makes me see something in my life a new way. Voice is also incredibly important to me. I want to feel like the writing is from someone I could pick out from a crowd. Don’t give me a story anyone could tell; give me the story only you could. And the last one is going to sound knit-picky of me, but I need to feel like you’ve read our guidelines. As a writer who submits to journals on a regular basis, I scour every punctuation mark of the guidelines because I know that someone took the time to set up Gmail inbox filters and coordinate blind readers to ensure the quickest, most equitable shot at publication for hopeful contributors possible. Not following any one of the guidelines could easily undermine those mechanisms or simply put the editors in a less favorable mood when trying to split hairs on two equally great poems.

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

DW: Perpetuation of rape culture, racism, stereotyping of any kind, hate speech, explicit sexual content that seems to serve  only the basest of purposes, and anything that has the aura of manifesto writing. Beyond that, clichés & lack of interesting language.

SQF: Where did the idea for the Dialogue Submissions come from?

DW: I think music is such a dynamic art form. It can have such a profound impact on our emotions. When I found that I was occasionally using music to inspire my own writing, I thought it would fit perfectly with the audio nature of our magazine. Now we don’t only offer a venue for writers to showcase their talent, we connect artists of different mediums in a cycle of inspiration. These Dialogue Submissions are one of my favorite parts of running this magazine because I get to witness firsthand the multitude of ways different writers interpret a single piece of music, and it reminds me just how much talent exists in the world.

SQF: You also offer a manuscript service. Is this limited to chapbooks? Poetry and prose?

DW: Right now, yes. Because we refuse to deviate from our commitment to present art aurally and we haven’t tackled a book-length project yet, we have to see how things go. Our first chapbook contest closed in July, and we will begin production soon; that’s when we’ll know more about our abilities and limitations. We would love to expand our scope and begin accepting full-length collections down the road, so we will keep you posted.

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

DW: What new ideas for the magazine have you been toying around with? I definitely think the podcast format offers so much unique potential. Interviews, for instance, would fit in pretty naturally. I also think we could feature work on current events in the weeks between our monthly issues, since most podcasts are published on a weekly basis anyways. I really just want this magazine to be an inclusive space for a variety of artistic opportunities, and I think we’ve only begun to explore. We’d also love to become a paying market and collaborate more with other journals. Writers have a wonderful community and it behooves us to be good citizens. We’re looking to run events at festivals like the Massachusetts Poetry Festival and work with others to hold discussions about writing. For instance, we just recorded an episode of The Literary Whip, a podcast aimed at illuminating where the line is between acceptances and rejections at lit mags. I learned as much from actually articulating my judgment as anyone who listens to it might.

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

Friday, November 10, 2017

Six Questions for Sarah Leavesley, Editor, V. Press

V. Press publishes poetry and flash fiction pamphlets/collections by UK authors currently residing in the UK. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this press?

Sarah Leavesley: Starting the press was something that developed organically. I’d set up a blog for a female poetry collaboration. We were booked for a poetry gig at a significant UK poetry festival (Ledbury) and someone said why don’t we have a book to sell at it…the rest as they say is history. I set up the company and fellow collaborator Ruth Stacey helped me to put together that first chapbook.

I was on a masters at the time, I didn’t want to self-publish outside of that collaboration and I had two solo collections with other publishers, so I didn’t do anything more with the press for about a year.  But, after I finished my masters, I had more time and was looking for a new project that would excite me. I’d also reached a stage where I’d been more widely published and had a number of books out with various presses myself. The confidence, editorial input and writing development that being published had given me was amazing. I wanted to be able to offer that to other poets and help to get great work out to readers.

V. Press opened a submissions window, and I took it from there. Because of her workload and commitments, Ruth, wasn’t able to continue in an active editing role. But she agreed to stay on and take charge of design, as well as being my main port of call for advice or when I need a second opinion.

The scope and range of what we publish has evolved a great deal since that first chapbook. I’m also a fiction writer and reader, and V. Press widened its range to also include flash fiction in 2015. Again, this was something that developed organically out of  both my own writing and reading interests and the literary environment at the time.

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

SL: Talent, uniqueness, crafting. I’ve rattled that off somewhat glibly because if I think too long or try to define these too precisely, it would be a phd-length essay and still not feel like a full satisfactory answer!  In essence with the first two, I want to feel so excited or gripped  or taken over by the work that I have to keep reading on. Perhaps because these two qualities are more intangible and harder to define than crafting, I think these are also the most crucial. To some extent, crafting can be learned and polishing applied afterwards. It’s much harder (maybe even impossible?) to make something technically competent stand out from the rest without there being talent or uniqueness there in the first place. I think this is also important when considering submissions from writers who aren’t privileged in terms of time or money to spend on writing courses or feedback. That said, I think reading widely is an important part of this, and increasingly less financially restrictive with growing online resources. It’s also one of many good arguments for maintaining and treasuring our libraries.

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

SL: Rudeness, as in life in general. Fortunately, I don’t get that very much with submissions. I think making a good submission, or ‘pitch’, is an art in itself, and one I know I don’t always get right myself. As editors go, therefore, I’m probably fairly tolerant and do prefer to focus on the quality of the actual work submitted. But, if I turn that question on its head and say what’s more likely to set a good environment to start reading that quality work in, following submission guidelines is a big one – and one that’s probably even more crucial for the number of editors who have said the same numerous times before. Likewise with not addressing me as dear sir, or a blanket submission ccing numerous other presses…

SQF: What are the next steps after a manuscript is accepted for publication?

SL: This very much depends on the manuscript. Some need more and some less editorial discussion and input from me. The key word for me here though is discussion. I’m fairly hands on, but it is a two-way process. For me, it’s about bringing the best out of the manuscript and presenting it in the best way for the work itself, within the author’s own style and voice.

I also have to typeset the manuscript – putting into house font and style etc. This usually happens after most of the editorial input. But it may happen earlier or during that process if it’s needed in order to tie down page-length of the finished pamphlet/book.

I do believe in nurturing talent. So, occasionally, I won’t take on a submission but I will offer some free feedback and/or mentoring with the hope that this might lead to a manuscript that V. Press can then publish. This is becoming more and more difficult though because of the time and work involved in doing that.

SQF: When you look into your crystal ball, what do you see in V. Press’s future?

SL: Now that is the one thing that I still need – a crystal ball that works, and one that I can manage to hold onto without breaking! Seriously though, we live in a fast-changing world and one that requires fast adaptation. V. Press has already moved from one pamphlet in our first year to three in 2015, five titles in 2016 and nine scheduled for 2017. That is a lot of work, and some risk, on all fronts. We are – inevitably – constrained by time, energy and financial resources. I currently do all the editing and admin on my own, while Ruth Stacey creates our beautiful poetry cover designs. Maintaining quality for our readers, doing the best for V. Press authors and remaining financially feasible/sustainable are my main motivators and aims. The exact nature of this is constantly evolving, as it has to.

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

SL: Is the love and demand for poetry and books dying? My answer – no. In fact, both have  probably even increased; it’s just that the nature of this,  and the ways of best meeting that love and demand, are constantly changing.

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

Friday, November 3, 2017

Six Questions for David L. White, Editor-in-Chief, SHANTIH Journal

SHANTIH Journal publishes fiction/nonfiction of 1,000 to 10,000 words, flash prose under 1,000 words, poetry, drama, and art & photography. All works should explore the concept of peace in the 21st century. Read the complete guideline here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

David White: Way back in 1998, I began my teaching career at Desert Vista High School, located in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. Back then, the school was in its early years, and so every teacher was expected to take on a club or sport. Since the idea of being athletic has always filled me with nausea, I took up being a co-sponsor of the literary magazine club. Between 1998 and 2015, I sponsored the Desert Vista Literary Magazine. Out of a need to save money, and with the advent of the internet, the club eventually stopped making a physical magazine and began creating an online literary magazine that still continues today. During my last year working there, the club came up with a great idea: hey! What if we made a literary magazine with a global reach and focus? Logistically, we had to wait until students graduated in order to create a new online literary magazine, independent of the school. Once we got started, other former students joined our endeavor. They’ve all gone on to become teachers, writers, musicians, graphic designers, lawyers, and self-made entrepreneurs with an ever-continuing love for literature. It’s been a joy working with my students in a larger arena. Not that they’re students anymore—this is a co-equal prospect, with all of us committed to bringing good art to its best light.

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


1. Is it moving?
2. Is it thought-provoking?
3. Is it original and new?

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

DW: I’m still a little protective of my former-students / editorial staff (even though many of them are in their thirties now), and so I don’t like work that is filled with offensive language or sexual subject matter. Any hint of misogyny or bigotry and it’s over.

Beyond that, I don’t like work that hasn’t been polished. Editing is, in my opinion, more important than oxygen. I also have a visceral and violent reaction to saccharine prose and work filled with clichés and dead metaphors.

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

DW: Not usually. Many times our rejections have more to do with personal taste than anything, and, in many respects, there’s no accounting for taste. Also, sometimes a good piece just doesn’t fit a current need. So a rejection isn’t even a comment on worthiness and should never be taken as discouragement.

SQF: What magazines/zines do you read on a “regular” basis?

DW: There are quite a few: Prairie Schooner, Thrush Poetry Journal, The Cincinnati Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Salamander, Tahoma Literary Review, PRISM international. Our design and layout editor is a big fan of Ninth Letter. I like The Adroit Journal. Iron Horse is good, too. So many.

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

DW: Why is the magazine called SHANTIH Journal?

SHANTIH Journal, like the original high-school magazine What the Thunder Said, has a number of meanings. SHANTIH is, of course, the famous last lines of “What the Thunder Said” the ending of Eliot’s The Waste Land, which then mirrors the ending of most of our editors’ high school careers and the beginnings of their new lives. It also refers to the fundamental question of the end of that poem: what does peace mean in our contemporary world? Is peace possible? If so, what would that look like? My hope is that all of the work submitted to our journal responds to these fundamental questions. We live in a world that very much needs peace – personal peace, societal peace, political peace, global peace.

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