Thursday, March 15, 2012

Six Questions for Jacob Uitti, Managing Editor, The Monarch Review

"The publication aims to sustain the Monarch’s vibrant, vagabond culture by creating a forum for emerging and established artists and thinkers. We are currently accepting online submissions of poetry, fiction, essays, music, videos and visual arts." Read the complete guidelines here.

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

JU: Surprise. Original language. A sense that the author is doing something intentionally and particularly different. These are the things that run through my head as I am reading a story or a poem. Character, plot, all that is important. But I assume their presence. I want to be surprised. I want a new memory to be created and have life. I also appreciate brevity. Mostly though, above all this, I want to feel as if I am being placed in a new space I couldn’t have imagined in a million years.

SQF: What are the top three reasons a story/poem is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?

JU: If I am not left with a hushed or loud WOW by the story or poem, it is rejected. Typos don’t bother me too much, and I engage with the authors I feel are almost there but their stories need a bit of work. Though if the author appears to not have put an actual effort into the crafting of the paragraph or lines, if the mistakes continue, then that lets me down and I am more apt to reject a piece. The first line, paragraph, page. These are important. I would like to say I read a story to the end and make a decision, but that is just not possible. If I, as an editor, am turned off quickly, just imagine what an interested or even casual reader will think?

SQF: What other common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story/poem?

JU: Paragraphs indented poorly or awful punctuation in some pieces of fiction. In poetry, if the ideas don’t have SPARK or if the ideas and language are underdeveloped. You know, to me, poetry, fiction, all art, is just a medium for an idea. Yes, one can craft a beautiful poem with meter, rhythm, all that, or a sculpture with immaculate detail, and there is beauty and surprise in that—look what another person can do! But, even more important, is the IDEA that the artist presents. How necessary is it, and what sort of style has the artist put on that idea to make it feel original? Where is it coming from? Ideas are important, first and foremost.

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story/poem?

JU: Often I provide comments on stories or poems I want to accept but that aren’t quite there, work in need of grammatical edits, or I think an idea can be a bit better developed. I do not provide comments on most of the stories or poems I reject, there just isn’t enough time. I wish there was.

SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

JU: I enjoy editing partly because it informs my writing. I have the opportunity to see hundreds and hundreds of pieces from my peers that I wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to. I get to share these pieces with other writers and editors, and I am placed in the position to defend my choices with my other editors at The Monarch Review. The workshop is never over; therefore, my education is never over. I have seen recurrent themes in poems and stories that I know now to maybe stay away from, or at least present in a more unique way. I get a chance to be surprised by work that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. I have also learned that there are so many people out there writing, though I wonder how many of them tell their friends and family that writing is what they do. Writing can feel lonesome, but since being an editor, I have learned that the social aspects of it are most important.

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

JU: I suppose I would like to talk about the mission of The Monarch Review. What is that mission? In one way, that is an impossible question to answer. Missions and motivations are always changing. How can you begin to plan, say, what Disney would become, ESPN, Facebook, etc? How can those individuals begin to plan—begin to plan to plan—what such giant things their dreams would become? But in another way, the mission is simple: it is to provide a place for people to share work. Work about their lives, in order to help inform other lives. We seek, as our mission statement says, work that displays the inherent human conflict: work of faith and doubt; work that endures; work that fills the other with curiosity and inspiration. Our magazine was created out of the spirit of the Monarch apartments, home to a myriad of Seattle artists who appreciate the sense of creative community a common building provides. The world is saturated with art and we want to provide a place where it can be shared and shown off.

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

NEXT POST: 3/19--Six Questions for David Steffen, Slushreader, Flash Fiction Online

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