Friday, March 15, 2019

Six Questions for Gerald So, Editor, The Five-Two

The Five-Two publishes poetry to 60 lines in the crime genre. Any form of poetry is acceptable, including free verse and prose poems. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: What an interesting premise—a poetry-only magazine in the crime genre. How did you come up with the idea?

Gerald So: The idea began in 2007 with writer Alex Echevarria Roman, who noticed my poetry on the Web and my work as fiction editor for Kevin Burton Smith's Thrilling Detective Web Site. Alex asked if I'd ever considered a magazine for crime poetry. I said I hadn't but would start, and recruited some friends as co-editors: Patrick Shawn Bagley, Reed Farrel Coleman, Sarah Cortez, Richie Narvaez, and Anthony Rainone.

From 2008 to 2011, we published four print volumes of The Lineup: Poems on Crime and received positive feedback from those who submitted poetry and bought the books--back issues still available at Production costs, though, kept us from publishing more than annually. In June 2011, my co-editors simultaneously got busy with other projects, and after some consideration, I decided to end the series.

Wanting to further prove the concept of crime poetry, I debuted The Five-Two's weekly all-original poetry format on September 12, 2011, including a YouTube video reading of each poem, annual ebook collections sold through Amazon's Kindle Store, and commentary posts each day of National Poetry Month (April). I like that the Web and its features make The Five-Two a year-round, topical, and interactive publication.

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

GS: Personality, topicality, and scope. I want the poet to be genuinely invested in the poem. Submissions don't have to be autobiographical, but I want to see why this particular poet is the best person to write this particular poem. I try for some topicality to keep the site relevant, to show that poets are responding to current injustices, big or small. I want poems to have enough scope to reach readers beyond the poets themselves. Go too broad, though, and a poem becomes less relatable to readers.

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

GS: A glaring lack of any of the three elements above. I think crime poetry calls for more freshness than crime fiction does. Another turn-off is disregard for the submission guidelines.

SQF: What do you look for in the opening stanzas of a submission?

GS: Confidence and a command of the poem's use of language.

SQF: If The Five-Two had a theme song, what would it be and why?

GS: I want to write or have an original theme song written, now that you ask, but with a time crunch, can I borrow Mike Post's Hill Street Blues theme? Its steadiness and heart reflect The Five-Two's frequency. Variations in tempo or rendition can take it to a dark place or a sad place. I hope The Five-Two's poetry has the same range.

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

GS: Given The Five-Two's frequency, how long can I keep it up?

I had no idea going in, nor do I now. As long as there is wrongdoing, and poets are moved to write about it and submit, I'll be here as long as I can be.

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

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