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?

DW:

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.

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