Friday, October 1, 2021

Six Questions for Deryck N. Robertson, Editor-in-Chief, Paddler Press

“We are looking for poems that are not overly long, and would also enjoy and encourage micro-poetry. If you’re not sure, send it along anyway.” Painting, sketches, mixed media, and photography are also accepted. Issues are themed. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Deryck Robertson: I started this magazine because I had this idea of honouring Tom Thomson, the famed Canadian painter and paddler, by publishing a collection of works inspired by and dedicated to him on the anniversary of his mysterious death, July 8.  A one-off publication would have worked, but I felt led to keep it going.  We aim to publish (in print) quarterly, with our next publication due out in early October.  As a teacher, I've read a lot of student work and there have been some poems that stop me in my tracks.  I want to be able to share that kind of work with the world. Having a print copy available is also important to me.  Holding words in my hand and being able to share with others is something I love.

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

DR: One, I love poems that tell stories, whether directly or implied, because stories connect us. No matter where we're from, we share many of the same experiences and in that we find commonalities. Two, I like shorter poems.  Maybe it's because I can have a short attention span at times.  Sometimes, poems can simply be too long and then, for me, the story can gets lost.  Again, it depends.  If the story writing is engaging, length isn't an issue.  Three, I look for beauty.  That is hard to quantify, because it can mean different things.  It could be a line, or an image that just hits me the right way that makes me stop and re-read.  I'm also a fan of humour.

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

DR: Anything that would require a content or trigger warning.  Two would be overly flowery writing.  Three would be anything that would be considered hateful.  Not following instructions (e.g., not sending the bio when you submit, not sending social media handles) just makes life difficult.  If I like the piece, but have to send emails requesting information that I should already have makes me cranky and less likely to work with the author.  The odd spelling mistake is no biggie for me.  I've been guilty of that myself.

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

DR: I want to get that yeah! moment that really draws me in.  Set the scene and make me want to keep reading. I want to make a connection right away.

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

DR: Definitely those.  Violence is another.  As a teacher of Grade 7 students, I would also include f-bombs and other potentially offensive language meant to be edgy.

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

DR: Do you accept work by unpublished writers?

Definitely.  We are thrilled to be able to publish someone for the first time and have done so in our first publication, Canoe Lake Memories and will be in our next volume, Roots & Wings.  We encourage writers to put themselves out there and share their work with the world by submitting to us.  I hope that even if we can't use a piece, our feedback and encouragement to keep going is received positively and the offer to submit again is accepted.

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

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