Friday, July 27, 2018

Six Questions for Mendes Biondo, Catfish McDaris, and Marc Pietrzykowski, Editors, Ramingo’s Porch

Ramingo’s Porch publishes poetry, prose, drama, non-fiction, art, “and whatever we find worthwhile.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Mendes Biondo: I was the one who proposed this mad project to Catfish and Marc. I wanted to create a place – the porch is a wonderful image, I think – where authors, artists and people from all over the world would be able to meet. You know, I’m from Italy, Cat’s from Milwaukee and Marc’s from New York. We met thanks to “Resurrection of a Sunflower,” a collection of writings dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh written by Catfish and Marc. I just thought “Why don’t we do it on an ongoing basis?.” Catfish and Marc were – and are – mad enough to like that idea. So here we are as three poetic musketeers or ramingos, if you prefer it.

Catfish McDaris: Marc at Pski’s Porch published two books of mine. We decided to do a big book about Vincent van Gogh called Resurrection of a Sunflower. I had met the curator, Ralf of the Van Gogh Library in The Netherlands. We had two Pulitzer nominated contributors and a Nobel Prize nominated writer. The book was about 525 pages.  Mendes Biondo a young Italian journalist sent poems. After we finally broke even, on postage and printing. We decided to do Ramingo’s Porch, ramingo means wanderer in Italian. 

Marc Pietrzykowski: Because Mendes and Catfish asked me if I wanted to be part of it. Really, that is the long and short of it--they are both interesting people, excellent writers, and want to help promote the small press world, it seemed an easy question to answer.

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

Catfish: Is it interesting enough to hold my attention to the end or do I find myself skip scanning? Is it like a Hallmark card to mama, then no?  Is it funny and does it have some black humor?

Mendes: Just one thing: that certain “I do not know why.” You know what I mean? It’s a sort of vibration, something that creeps into your brain and says: “Hey dude, this piece is great.” Personally, I like a lot of different styles, genres and experimentations with the language, so I have no particular thing I’m searching for. Bring me on a long voyage to far places, offer me a bittersweet beer drinking narrator discussing life and death, or show me your best way to love. All these things – and much more – are good for me.

Marc: I don't actually look, I don't have a rubric or set of criteria I am trying to locate in the submissions. I try to let poems and stories show me how they want to be read, and I am always striving to expand my own sense of what makes literature good. I would say that in a very general sense I prefer the raw to the polished, the outsider to the insider, and the rhythmic to the merely imagistic, but plenty of things I read every day challenge those preferences in a useful way.

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

Marc: The sense that the author is writing to impress the reader.

Mendes: Courtesy. It’s the passe-partout for every kind of door.

Catfish: Basic common courtesy to the editor. Back in the SASE days, there were no computer instant answers, so respect helps. Do not throw a damn tantrum if you get a reject. I had a blog awhile back and I got death threats, but then I got death threats against my wife and daughter. That almost got out of hand.

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

Catfish: I like a good hook. Like in a boxing match, I want my ass kicked. When it’s all over I just want to sit on the stool and sweat and smile.

Mendes: When I started reading other poems, when I was younger, I was searching for a hitting verse or something similar. After reading Constantine Kavafy works I understood that you can find beauty also in the middle of a poem or at the end of a short story. So I start the adventure and only at the end do I throw it in the garbage can.

Marc: Again, I don't look, in fact I try hard to avoid looking. Interesting titles always help, but that is pretty vague. I just to try pay attention to the intent, if I can figure it out. If a story or poem seems like it is taking a while to get going, for example, that might be interesting, if the writer is doing it on purpose. If not, well, then it's not so good.

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

Marc: Grad school avant-garde moves, academically bred experimental work is easy to spot and always vaguely sad, sort of the way one feels after masturbating in the middle of the day, with a whole bunch of chores still to do.

Mendes: This last issue is dedicated to Charles Bukowski and people loved it. Because he is like hamburgers: everybody loves them. Anyhow we are trying to create a circle of readers from here, and to be sure our works can sell some copies. We are not business men. We change the issue theme constantly so as to have a unique product every time, and we do not like mail bombing. We just try to make people happy with a lot of words and fun. Maybe fun is our hard sell. Oh, and we love erotica and weird sex. Ha!

Catfish: I have no problems with sex or erotica. Just stay away from children. Lay off goats, chickens, or bears. Try to stick to your own species that isn’t jailbait or over the hill. Love is a good thing, but it’s also a four-letter word.

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

Catfish: Do you have any current projects? Why yes. We have a new issue of Ramingo’s Porch #3 due out any day on Amazon Books. It has 6 or 7 original Bukowski poems and 3 pieces by Jack Micheline. I also have several books of my own (Catfish McDaris) on Amazon Book as well.

Marc: Hmm… how about, "do you think the small press world is alive and vibrant?" And I would answer, "well, in my little corner of the world it is, and there are some great publications and presses doing good work--I am more optimistic about the state of small presses than I am our species in general."

Mendes: Probably, as Cat wrote in his answers, a question about the future. It’s always interesting to look into a crystal ball to forecast what will happen tomorrow. I have no crystal ball, though. So the best answer to this question is that I would like to publish a poetry book – and Marc told me he would do it as Pski’s Porch – maybe bilingual so to put some parmesan cheese on spaghetti & meatballs poems.

Thank you a lot for having me and for this great opportunity you’re giving us. Hope to be able to write something about your blog on mine soon!

Thank you, Mendes, Catfish and Marc. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

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