Friday, May 28, 2021

Six Questions for Jessica Kim, Founder/Editor-in-Chief, The Lumiere Review

The Lumiere Review publishes fiction and nonfiction to 3,000 words, poetry, and all mediums of art. “We are intrigued by the inextinguishable sparks of truth and connection, the effervescent meddling of narrative, and the luminous creations that expand on perceptions of genre, language, and form.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Jessica Kim: I started The Lumiere Review on a whim—designed a WordPress website, made an Instagram account, and from there it just blossomed. Originally, Lumiere started as a youth-focused publication to give underrepresented and emerging creatives a platform to shine. Now, we’ve widened our horizons to accommodate the larger literary community, but the core of our magazine stays the same: to prioritize, preserve, and promote the voices of creatives from all backgrounds.

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

JK: Voice, clarity, and emotion, not necessarily in that order. We’re a magazine that hopes to be the epicenter of diversity, and so a fresh and unique perspective always intrigues me. Truth is, there’s no concrete way to describe a submission with a strong voice because any and every aspect of it can encapsulate this idea. Maybe the poem approaches an ordinary subject from a new angle, maybe the writer is experimenting with a nonce form or self-created structure. Maybe the story transports its readers into another world, maybe it’s a character who is so awe-inspiring but simultaneously relatable. Maybe it's a painting we can’t quite decipher; we just want a raw but unparalleled point of view. Because this “voice” is a dynamic force, it’s ultimately up to the submitter to find their own—and that’s the beauty of the submissions we receive.

On the other side of the spectrum, we want to see submissions that give just the right amount of detail and the right mixture of language. While we want to see narratives that explore the unknown, we don’t want to be baffled for eternity. We believe that individuality and coherence can (and should) coexist. Usually, submissions that have this clarity have gone through several revisions, and the dedication truly shines.

I want to constantly be surprised, even challenged by a poem, story, or piece of art, which naturally draws me into the emotional arcs of a piece. Ultimately, we hope the pieces we publish in our magazine will channel our readers to feel inspired, riled, compassionate, or ecstatic. I am most excited by pieces that are in conversation with the audience through their emotional trajectory. The ones that tear, devour, and heal their readers. That said, we aren’t particularly fond of submissions that overdo these sentiments, so ultimately it’s about balancing feelings with concrete and concise details.

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

JK: Pretty sure this is a common sentiment to many editors, but submissions that are sloppy or don’t follow our guidelines. The list is endless: submissions that clearly haven’t been proofread, exceed our word limit, have identifying authorial information in the document, ones that are pasted into the body of the email, etc. Additionally, I’m visually impaired and have a hard time reading certain fonts. Usually, a quick manual readjustment does the trick, but I’m a little put off by submissions in undecipherable fonts or colors.

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

JK: An opening that is nuanced, startling, eye-opening, breathtaking, packed, strong, haunting, clear, or simply flawless. Honestly, it’s not so much of what I’m looking for, but what the author wants to convey that draws me into a submission.

SQF: What is the Light Bulb series and how are interviewees selected?

JK: The Light Bulb is an interview series that I started out of my own interests, to be candid. I wanted to have conversations with some of my favorite writers without having to bombard them with questions. I’ve always been interested in the backstory behind the construction of a writer’s identity, and our interview series is the space to explore that. Other than that, The Light Bulb is another manifestation of our desire to be an inclusive publication. I try to converse with creatives who offer insight on the various realms of the literary world, from literary magazines and publishing a chapbook to just the small intricacies of being a writer. We always like to include a discussion on uplifting young, emerging, or marginalized writers and artists as well.

Interviewees are selected in a variety of ways. We have various categories, such as literary magazine editor or chapbook advice interviews, and I like to contact creatives who fit this role. Other times, we do have “free-style” interviews, in which I just reach out to writers whom I’ve been dying to have a conversation with. I’ve been conducting these interviews on my own thus far, but we’re always open to interview requests and we have some forthcoming interviews conducted by our recently-joined interviewers.

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

JK: How about “What’s next for Lumiere?” This question is something that’s perennially been on my mind these days. A fairly short-term goal would be to compensate our writers and artists which I think could be a possibility from late 2021. Another goal for us is to become something beyond just an online magazine. Perhaps print issues? But I was thinking more of being a greater vessel in the literary community by hosting workshops, podcasts, or mentorships. At heart, though, our goal is just to be the brightest magazine around!

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

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