Friday, January 19, 2024

Six Questions for Veronica Kirin, Cofounder, Anodyne Magazine

Anodyne Magazine publishes poetry, flash fiction to 1,000 words, long-form fiction, and nonfiction to 5,000 words, artwork, photography, video, and music/audio. “We are a magazine focused on personal health experiences, including (but not limited to) physical health, doctor visits, mental health, chronic illness, and more.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Veronica Kirin: Katarina [Yepez] and I both struggle with medical conditions that are not well-recognized or well-supported by the medical establishment. We both have experience with two health systems — the American and the German system. While general access is improved in the German system, we both found that the same gaps in treatment applied. Frustrated, but also wanting to use our situation to the benefit of others, we decided to create Anodyne Magazine. We know FLINTA* (female, lesbian, intersex, nonbinary, trans, agender) people all over the world face similar problems, and we believe the community will find relief in seeing their concerns, discoveries, and wins published in a compassionate periodical. We are delighted to find the community supportive and hungering for this kind of discourse!


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

VK: First, we look for a fit with our theme. We exclusively publish work by those identifying as FLINTA* and addressing the topic of our health in some way. Then, we consider quality. At Anodyne, we believe everyone deserves support, and work with some contributors on fine-tuning their pieces within reason; still, there is only so much guidance we can offer when processing 100+ submissions each round. We ensure all selected works adhere to our guidelines and meet our quality standards. Finally, we consider the content. Does the piece have depth? How does it make us feel? Does it linger on the inside of our skulls and compel us to tell all our friends about it?


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

VK: It drives me nuts when people don’t look to submission guidelines. We try really hard to be supportive and provide information if a new submitter needs it. But we also worked to make the basics clear so busy creatives can submit quickly. For example, a recent submission was 1,500 words longer than our guidelines allow. I didn’t even read it (Katarina believes I’m a bit of a stickler that way). I’ve been on both sides of the process and know sometimes mistakes are made, but I view disregard for guidelines as disregard for the effort we’re making to publish and promote your work.


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

VK: Are we hooked? Is the basic thesis clear early in the piece? I don’t need to know everything that’s going to happen, but a well-thought-out piece will seed their idea very early, and then build it throughout the piece. I love that!


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

VK: Of course, if it’s not on the theme of FLINTA* health, it doesn’t fly. If the work is extremely explicit, we may be weary of publishing the piece. Otherwise, we’re pretty open to whatever we’re sent. We understand that it can be difficult to encapsulate the emotions of health conditions and related experiences, and we’re a diverse community. Put together, we get some pretty creative stuff and love it.


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

Why do you pay in dividends?

VK: First of all, Anodyne Magazine represents an underserved community, not just in healthcare, but in all walks of life. We firmly believe that creative endeavors ought to be paid, and paid well, and perhaps we can play a role in changing the way money flows in the literary world. We pay in dividends so we are able to pay even our first contributors and guest editor. But it also means that we can continue to pay them, even years into the future. As long as the issue they worked on sells, they will receive payment for it. If we the founders of Anodyne do our jobs well, everyone will benefit. Here’s to hoping!

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


Friday, January 5, 2024

Six Questions For: A Farewell

They say you’ll know when it’s time. December 31 marked the end of my 15th year of providing editor interviews on Six Questions For. . . (https://sixquestionsfor.blogspot.com). It’s been a grand run, but it’s time for me to move on.

I want to thank Randall Brown (https://www.randall-brown.com) for planting the seed for the project. He responded to an online rant of mine suggesting I “publish a series of interviews in which editors list, in excruciating details, all that each editor desires in his/her stories.” I don’t remember my response the first time I read this. I know it wasn’t positive. I spent a few weeks attempting to talk myself out of passing go and posting interviews. Obviously, I failed.

I also want to thank all the editors who participated. Over the course of this project, I contacted 2,409 editors and published 955 interviews. That’s a 40% return rate, which remained steady throughout.

WHAT I WILL DO BEFORE COMPLETELY STOPPING 

1.    There are still a few editors who expressed an interest in participating but haven’t responded yet. If/When they do, I will post those interviews.

2.    I’ll also consider posting an interview from an editor who contacts me directly.

3.    Perform a final scan to mark publications that have ceased publication.

WHAT I WON’T DO

1.    Solicit new publications.

I’ve received many kudos over the years from editors and authors. I considered including a few here, but the greatest testimony would be for someone (or a group/class) to take over the project. I’m willing to assist in the transfer and share what I’ve learned over the span of the project. In the meantime, the current site will remain active for as long as Google allows.

Thanks for all your support over the years.

Jim Harrington

SixQuestionsFor@gmail.com


Friday, December 29, 2023

Six Questions for Marina Kraiskaya (Brown), Managing Editor, Bicoastal Review

Bicoastal Review publishes poetry, nonfiction, photography, and art. They especially welcome ekphrastic writing that imitates, borrows, challenges, or is otherwise in conversation with work they have previously published. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this journal?

Marina Kraiskaya: The concept for Bicoastal Review was the brainchild of my friend and fellow poet Luis Torres, who is working on his MFA. We wanted to create a unique, community-building publication that bridged the coastal and cultural divide between New York and California/Oregon – but that did not subscribe to the typical elitist implications that come with the word “bicoastal.” To this journal, “bicoastal” refers to the peoples, cultures, art, and ecology of the East Coast and West Coast – but also to the community of writers that we have connected with in the vast states in between. We accept submissions from all over the world and do not base each issue around mentions of particular U.S. states.

 We also wanted to straddle the lines between edgy, modern narratives and traditionally beautiful, quiet writing. Hopefully, we are accomplishing that goal.

I was brought on to the project because I have been a professional editor for years. I am now BR’s managing editor. I value the little things that (would) mean the world to me if extended by other publications – like emailing back and forth with writers, workshopping poems that we believe in and have a vision for, or sending snail mail to our contributors and hearing about how they’re doing in life and in their careers. I put a LOT of thought into how poems are arranged and how themes speak to each other in each issue.

As a poet, I know exactly how overwhelming and vulnerable it is to submit to even one publication. I respect every person who has taken the time to share their work with our journal and try my best to respond in a timely manner and offer what I can. I don’t like the phrase “slush pile.” I also want anyone reading this to know that rejections from journals are not a reflection of quality or of your passion; most often, an editor is hoping to fill a very specific content gap, and your mutual needs simply didn’t align on that day.


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

MK: Authenticity of voice, cohesion of conceit, and a sense that nothing is missing – that the poem has pushed as far as it could and dug up some gem from the depths of the unconscious. That it makes us feel something. That it can be read more than once to a greater effect. My common test of a submission that I am on the fence about is whether I remember it after 48 hours. If I do, that is a sign that the voice is strong, which is more important than the poem being perfect. If I have an edit for the poem, the writer is usually willing to hear me out and revise. As a small journal, we are able to value potential over perfection and build those relationships.

We receive many submissions of what is popular at the moment – narrative/prosaic poetry about self-identity. I would love to see more nonfiction submissions, critiques of anything going on in the literary world, examinations of history, ekphrastic writing, and lyrical ecopoetry.


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

MK: Of course, we want everyone to read our guidelines, purchase print issues, and maybe even write us a little note about why they are submitting. When a submission is completely different in subject or tone from our usual vibe, it seems like the individual is just shooting blindly at too many journals. We also prefer to see at least 3 poems in one document, in 11-14 sized font.

I have a strong aversion to cliché, ripe fruit as sexual allusion, casual bashing of the feminine (why is this so common?), poems that could have been short stories and accomplished the same result, childhood memories that are meaningful only to the writer, AI or bot poems, Instapoetry, poems that rely on aphorisms or proverbs, blunt rhetorical questions, lazy use of the word “thing,” poems that poorly use the word “dust,” and poems that explain themselves rather than letting an image speak.

We also do not accept any form of hate speech.

 

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

MK: The first line of a poem can tell you so much about what is to come. Perhaps the writer establishes a conflict or presents a mystery. The first line also determines how the rest of the lines will be formed, or how they will begin to deviate from this particular line to convey a message. Scene-setting can be important, but tone-setting is even more crucial. Too many first lines are either too vague and ethereal, or try so hard to shock that they push their reader out. Hyper-elevation in this way is the poetic equivalent of a fiction book’s main character immediately being “the chosen one” with magical powers and golden eyes.

Of course not a necessity for an excellent poem, but it is also beautiful and masterful to have an end-stopped first line that reads like its own tiny poem. Titles can function in much the same ways. I love a unique title that adds some new information or tone to the poem.

Our second and third issues, for example. include these great first lines: “Last night, my wife mistook me for a ghost.” (Rosalind Shoopmann). “The first one thousand days, eat nothing” (Aimee Lim). “My gun and I meet. It’s for freedom” (Francis Bede). And “the desert labors like a postmenstrual woman” (Annie Lure). Those all make me want to read more!


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

MK: Political poetry is very difficult to do well and to write in a timeless way; to not overdo the emotion and to use “cold hard facts” toward a purpose that truly serves the poem. Political poetry is like sexual poetry in that it is not the subject matter itself that is a hard sell. It is not that journals demand nice, clean political correctness. The issue lies in the way people approach these topics: subject-first, rather than conceit-first. The result is often an overly intense, crusading, somewhat hollow “journal entry” type of poem that is reliant on cliché or feels closed off. 


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

MK: This is a wonderful project and conversation. If I was the interviewer, I might ask about processes of communication, audience, and community. I believe a journal should not exist if its main purpose is to elevate the names of its staff, to be shocking, to be a gimmick, etc. Poets and editors (and I am both) usually are aware that their reader is at work on the material right alongside them – turning, interpreting, empathizing, responding, breathing, being with their stories, symbols, and rhythms. So, we serve our audience – end stop. We create art, arrange it, and present it to add to the deep meaning of the collective, rather than to feed our own egos or resumes. We should be in this world to coax out and encounter new truths and perspectives about what it means to be human. We should be in this world because we can’t live without it.

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


Friday, December 22, 2023

Six Questions for Alan Perry, Managing/Poetry Editor, RockPaperPoem

RockPaperPoem is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit poetry journal run by an all-volunteer team of poets. It publishes three issues per year, requires no fee to submit, and nominates for Best of the Net annually. It welcomes submissions from anywhere in the world, and encourages work from under-represented, marginalized individuals. Send up to 5 poems for consideration, with a maximum of 2 pages per poem, fee-free during any of our three reading periods. Read the complete guidelines here.

 

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?


Alan Perry: We wanted to fill what we perceived as a niche in the poetry journal market: an independent, non-university-affiliated journal that was no fee, easily accessible to all (online), targeting a high-level of poetry from experienced published poets, as well as poets seeking their first publication. We wanted to push the boundaries of contemporary poetry without sacrificing strong, emotional depth for experimentation. We also wanted to enhance the experience of encountering each of the poems we publish with an image indicative of each poem's theme or imagery, i.e. a visual introduction to poems.

 

 

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


AP: We look for a well-crafted poem that is grounded in humanity, including a deftly-conceived turn, strong theme, and poignant ending.

 

 

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


AP: A submission that looks and feels like it's an early draft: rough, not polished, not ready for publication. Also, a poem that belabors well-established themes without showing us something unique.

 

 

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


AP: The first few lines of a poem—much like prose—should intrigue us, want us to follow a path the poet has created, engage us with interesting language, scenery, or perspective. Bring us into the poem and make us want to stay.

 

 

SQF: Are there any styles/genre of poetry you’d like to receive more (or less) of?


AP: Our strong preference is for fresh, new free verse work with multi-layered meaning. We do not have themed issues, so we are open to any subject that connects with readers, whether lyrical, narrative, or confessional style. We generally shy away from rhyming, overly simplistic, and shape poems.

 

 

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


AP: "What is your vision for the future of RockPaperPoem?"

 

Our long-term vision is to become a leading U.S. online poetry journal recognized for its high-quality content, attractive design, reader accessibility, and contributor friendliness. We want to be known for promoting a wide variety of poetic styles, diversity in poetic voices, and a welcoming, inclusive community of poets in our publication. We look forward to bringing new poetry programs and opportunities to our contributors, submitters, and readers in the near future!


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


 

 


Friday, December 15, 2023

Six Questions for Cloē Di Flumeri and Christina Giska, Co-Founding Editors, The Q&A Queer Zine

The Q&A Queer Zine publishes poems, flash fiction (250-1,000 words), short stories (1,000-2500 words), and art work. Read the complete guidelines here.


SQF: Why did you start this magazine?


Cloe Di Flumeri: We started the Q&A as undergrad students at Widener University. Christina and I didn't know each other well outside of the publication we both were readers for, The Blue Route. I remember going through one of the packets we had received and realizing that our university had no defined platform of expression for queerness. Two good friends of mine were students at Boston College at the time, and had been working for their publication, The Laughing Medusa—which spotlights the work of women and nonbinary artists. I remember having a lightbulb moment where I realized, THAT'S what we're missing. It came at a time when I was also taking a classics class and asking all sorts of questions like—why do we teach what we teach, whose voices are missing or silenced... think the Iliad and the Epic of Gilgamesh, two texts with an abundance of queerness which has historically been filtered by heterosexism-- as well as gender violence that goes largely uncriticized when such texts are taught in the classroom.



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


CDF: In no particular order- Authenticity, technical skill, thematic novelty. To me, this is the trinity of ingredients I look for in a submission-- and which come up frequently in our reading meetings. As a writer, I know it is hard to find a balance between the three and that works embodying these traits are a demonstration of skill and attention to craft. I do believe the thematic novelty piece can be harder to sus out because if you are unfamiliar with a magazine and haven't done your reading, you might not know what stories they are telling in their issues. I will say we get an overabundance of coming-of-age stories, and we assess those stories differently because we know we have to limit the amount we publish. I love receiving speculative fiction pieces which build entire worlds for us to explore, or poems that reflect on unconventional aspects of the queer experience. This is not to say any one story is more important or better because of what I like, but we do need to consider including a multiplicity of topics to ensure that we aren't telling "one" queer story—which could be easy if we published ALL of our lovely coming of age tales (there are A LOT!)



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


CDF: THANK YOU FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION—NOT READING OUR SUBMISSION GUIDELINES! People have submitted works and retracted them when finding out that we do not offer compensation, people have sent us works previously published, people have sent us works that were pages upon pages longer than our word count. Ignoring or not engaging with submission guidelines is a dead giveaway that you do not truly value our time or consideration. Works ignoring our guidelines are not considered and are removed from the pool.



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


Christina Giska: I'm looking for something that grabs your attention as a reader. Any piece will have stronger and weaker parts to it, and while we want to minimize the weaker parts overall, the opening is definitely not where you want the weak parts to remain. 



SQF: Are there particular topics/genre you’d like to see addressed more (or less) in the submissions you receive?


 CC: I love pieces that are a little more out there and explore unusual paths, but I know there are others on the masthead who don't. As a queer zine, we get a lot of pieces centered around love and sex, and while I love them, I also enjoy pieces that explore other aspects of the queer experience and queer community. 



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


CC: What are your goals for the zine? 


I want the zine to be a place where people feel comfortable. We're a small, volunteer-run zine and to me, the whole point of the zine was to have a place where people felt like they could be themselves and be respected. If the zine makes even one person feel more secure or happy, then I'm glad the zine was created.


Thank you Cloē and Christina. We all appreciate your taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.