Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Six Questions for Douglas Pinson, Editor and Publisher, Spinozablue

Spinozablue publishes fic­tion, poetry, art, music, short films, pho­tog­ra­phy, non-​​fiction essays and reviews.  Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

DP: I thought it was the fastest possible way to become a billionaire. Isn't that why everyone starts an online Literary Arts Journal?

All seriousness aside, the original impetus was a combination of many things. Centuries ago, I was an editor for Calvert, an arts journal for the University of Maryland, and I enjoyed that experience immensely. Except for the part when I became homeless and had to sleep in the Calvert office, eat day-old yogurt and dodge the Authorities. But that's another story entirely . . . 

Many years later, after finding a new home, I looked around me and said: Wow! There is an absolute lack of literary journals being run solely and completely by me! I must fill the void!! So, the original plan was to create Spinozablue, publish the best art, fiction, poetry, photography and film possible, and throw in a work or two meself. I was also hoping that a certain circle of ne'er do wells from the old New York Times book forums would keep me supplied with deathless prose for generations. Alas, that was not to be. But we soldier on, regardless. 

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

1. Can they hit a curve ball? 
2. Can they parallel park?
3. Do they realize that every time they say "center around," an out-of-work theosophist gets a job?

Of course, the first is self-explanatory. The second is essential, given the relentless tight squeezes of modern life. And the third? While I love Zen koans, I'm just not prepared to wrack my brain over stuff that would make Einstein kvetch to his relatives. 

SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a submission?

DP: Good question. So, okay. Time for a little shift in tone here. Common mistakes? This is really more about my personal biases than an actual "mistake," per se. But, really, folks, rhymes? You actually want to write poetry with rhymes, still? In 2012? After thousands of poets gave their lives, echoing the storied words of Braveheart, just so you wouldn't have to labor endlessly to locate matching sounds that distract everyone from what you're trying to express in the first place? You still want to write poems that rhyme?!?!

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

DP: I do at times, and it's never an easy thing for me. Especially when they attach a photo of their latest bear kill. 

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

DP: That's easy. We writers are terrible editors of our own work. But we tend to be pretty good editors of the work of others. Back in the 80s, I went through a phase where I read voraciously about "theory," especially PoMod. I read Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Eco, Kristeva, Hassan, Barthes, Levi Strauss, etc. I read the Obstructionists and the Decongestants. All those guys, you know? But after awhile, I came to the conclusion that all of that theory got in the way of my connection with the actual work. So I returned to people who love the literature itself. Other writers. Other poets. Other novelists. IMO, they write the best about writing. 

SQF: What do you want authors to know about the submissions you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?

DP: I want them to know that it really is difficult to say no. It kills me softly each time I have to say no to Roberta Flack, for instance. I start out not wanting to say no, ever. So that when I say it, it's because of the divine right of kings bestowed upon me by generations of delusional grandeur. 

Oh, and yes. Certainly. I want writers to reply with more and more questions. Sure. Of course. 

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

DP: To be honest, I wish you had asked me about the obvious decline in genuine empathy, moral imagination and compassion toward other human beings and the planet. I wish you had asked me if I thought this was somehow related to the dumbing down of culture and the virtual disappearance of long, focused, concentrated encounters with great works of art. I truly wish you had bothered to address the issue of the callousness of modern life and our me mine me mine obsessions. And I would have answered with less than a sneer, but more than a whatever, "Get a life!!"

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

NEXT POST: 11/16--Six Questions for Jenny Catlin, Founder/Editor-in-Chief, Scissors and Spackle

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