Friday, February 14, 2020

Six Questions for Katie Manning, Founder/Editor-in-Chief, Whale Road Review

Whale Road Review: A Journal of Poetry & Short Prose publishes poetry and prose under 500 words, pedagogy papers on creative writing, and reviews. They accept creative submissions in June and December for quarterly issues. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Katie Manning: As a grad student and just after, I really enjoyed working on New Letters (intern & volunteer), Rougarou (poetry editor and editor-in-chief), and Fickle Muses (guest editor), and I'd been thinking for several years that I wanted to start my own online journal, so I finally taught myself how to build a website and created Whale Road Review in 2015. I love getting to do the work of reading submissions and creating issues, and I love affirming other writers' work and helping them find an audience. I also love that running an online journal doesn't require me to sell anything and allows the work we publish to reach readers who wouldn't necessarily subscribe to a print journal or seek out new poetry and short prose.

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


  1. We look for work that is memorable/haunting in some way. We want readers to think about these pieces long after they've read them.
  2. We look for work that is fairly short. We want pieces that don't take much time to read once (but that invite re-readings and keep haunting us). 
  3. We look for work that feels timely and appropriate for each issue's release date. We like seasonal imagery/archetypes to be in season, and we like when the pieces in an issue seem to be in conversation with each other. 

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


  1. When it's clear that the writer didn't even glance at our submission guidelines (which is obvious from the subject line) 
  2. When a cover letter is addressed to "Dear Sirs"
  3. When the writing is sloppy, gratuitously violent, sexist, racist, or otherwise hateful 

SQF: Is it really important to read the guidelines? Many are long and boring.

KM: Yes. Some are brief and amusing, but even the long and boring ones are important. :) This is somewhat like preparing for a job interview. You want to make sure you know how to present your writing so that it will be dressed appropriately and ready to impress. If you want editors to give your work a close read, then you should give their guidelines a close read and do your best to meet them. Following the guidelines is a good way to show the editorial team that you respect them and appreciate their time and work.

SQF: What will readers find in the Teachers’ Lounge?

KM: Resources for teaching creative writing! Each issue of Whale Road Review contains pedagogy papers, brief essays with teaching ideas, in-class exercises, assignments, etc., and we archive all of these in the Teachers' Lounge for easy access. This is one of the features that makes Whale Road Review distinct and that I was most excited to include when I dreamed up this journal.

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

KM: Why are the readers for Whale Road Review called "peer reviewers" on the masthead?
When I first launched the journal, my original four reviewers and I decided that we wanted to use the language of peer review even though it's more common for literary journals to use "readers" or "associate editors" and for academic journals to use "peer reviewers." We wanted to make it clear that our poetry, short prose, pedagogy papers, and book reviews are also rigorously reviewed by peers in our field.

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

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