Friday, November 30, 2018

Six Questions for Janet Kuypers, Editor, Down in the Dirt Magazine​

Down in the Dirt (founded in 2000) publishes poetry, prose, nonfiction/essays and occasional works of art. Unlike other magazines with "sections", Down in the Dirt places poetry and prose in the order it is received ,so they are mixed together throughout any issue. Artwork is also placed on pages with prose, where the prose leaves a lot of blank space on a page for prose. Prose/non-fiction/essay word limit for all submissions is ~1,600 words. Read the complete guidelines here.​ ​

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?​​

Janet Kuypers: Down in the Dirt was started as a section within "Children, Churches and Daddies" magazine with occasional appearances in 1994. It disappeared by 1995, but after my own near fatal car accident (I was stopped at an intersection and hit by two cars; I was in a coma for 11 days and had to re-learn how to walk and talk and eat), I found myself trying to resurrect cc&d/Children, Churches and Daddies magazine, and at that time I thought I could start Down in the Dirt as its own publication. It started only in web issues, but now it is released as both a free online (web page) issue and an ISBN# perfect-bound paperbacks book at Amazon. (We cannot afford to give away books, so constrictors are not paid for their material they submit to us for publication, but we do release it in issues online for free, and all accepted writers also have their writing published as their own page sorted under their name in the writings section of which is probably the most popular part of the website.)​​ ​

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

JK: I look for clear writing (so material is more understandable). I look for descriptive writing (I don't mean overly embellished descriptions, I mean writing with enough detail that makes you fee like you've lived through the scene in the writing). And, we are always impressed when an original message comes to us in a submission (material over the same usual topics is not rejected, but writing on a new subject or relating something different, or maybe a familiar topic but with a different thought approach or twist to it will really catch our attention).​​​

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

JK: We do not consider rhyming poetry. If you are busy searching for a rhyme to match your lines, then you are not actively looking for the best word to accurately describe what you really want to say. The reader also gets lost in the rhyme instead of the message too.​ ​​

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

JK: We look for something that makes us want to read on. I know that sounds vague, but the opening should have power. Make sure your opening is strong, so we don't have to go through a third to half of the piece to get the point.​ ​​

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

​JK: The first sentence in our guidelines under "the really technical details", is that we don't go for racist, sexist (therefore no pornography either), or homophobic stuff.​ ​

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

JK: I don't think I have one, but if anyone wants to ask me anything, they can, at - where anyone can also see a link to a 6/16 interview with me about Down in the Dirt. Also, in a marathon interview, you can find an explanation of all of the steps I take as an editor when considering every piece of writing, with all the information for the process with the accepted submissions to our literary magazines (all those details start at the paragraph with "When I accept a piece of writing").​​Thank you, Janet. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to​participate in this project.​​

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

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