Friday, July 13, 2018

Six Questions for Lorette Luzajic, Founder/Editor, The Ekphrastic Review

The Ekphrastic Review publishes any kind of poetry, micro, flash, and shorter fiction, and interesting reflections, essays, and other prose about or inspired by art. “We would love to see more prose.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Lorette Luzajic: I’m a writer and an artist, and felt there was a paucity of resources for creative writing on art. Some journals hold occasional ekphrastic prompts or special editions, but I felt instinctively that there was a whole movement out there of people who had discovered what looking at art can do for your writing. I wanted more people to discover that, too.


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

LL: Interesting, accessible, evocative.

 I'm looking for interesting pieces that make me look again at a piece of art I may have seen a hundred times. I like accessibility- work that takes risks is great, but writing that tries to be difficult or obscure for the hell of it doesn't work for me. I look for emotion. I want to feel something.


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

LL: We get an unbelievable number of submissions that have nothing to do with art! This is an incredible waste of my time and yours. No matter how brilliant the piece is, we don't publish anything except ekphrastic writing.

I don't care for writing that shows simplistic, predictable, knee-jerk thinking about politics, religion, men and women, art, culture, or any other topic. Life is complex, layered, nuanced, and challenging. I want work that reflects that. Think deeply and write from that place.


SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraph(s)/stanza(s) of a submission?

LL: Hopefully, to be drawn in. It's hard to turn down works that hook a reader from the start.


SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

LL: Politics, man-bashing, religion bashing. We get a LOT of material "inspired" by religious artwork that is outright hateful.  Most of art history in all cultures is driven by religion, so we are interested in reflection on divine inspiration that attempts to understand where the artist or culture was coming from and what they were thinking. We don't ever shy away from difficult emotions and experiences, but we're not interested in rants and diatribes for the mere sake of bashing something.


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

LL: "How do you feel about turning down submissions?"

Horrible. I hate sending work back. People put their heart and soul into their work, and carefully craft their submissions, all the while knowing they won't get paid. They just want a few people to read what they've created. To make the world a little bit more beautiful or interesting or make someone see something from a different perspective.

I want to clarify this because I so often see writers in my circle or on Facebook mentioning their rejections and wondering where they went wrong.

I have received hundreds, probably thousands of rejections in my lifetime, and I get them still. Being on this side of the table has been completely eye opening for me. Rejection is seldom about "rejection." Sure, some writing is simply terrible, and some is simply not suited to the journal to which it's being sent. But most work is returned simply because we cannot possibly use everything we get. It is an unbelievable amount of work to put up a journal — I wouldn't have guessed it would take a fraction of the time I spend before I started it. I honestly thought it would take a few minutes a week to put up some great poems when I got them. I'd love to post all the great work we get but it's impossible.

Realize that the most likely explanation for why your work is returned — here, or anywhere — is because the editor gets thousands of poems and stories. The process of selection is subjective and doesn't reflect the merit of your work. Don't take it personally. Improve your writing, of course. Grow as an artist and expand your thinking and make your next poem your best. But don't think being turned away means more than it does. Take it in stride and send more later, while you keep sending to your other favourite journals.

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

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