Duotrope Interview

Rust + Moth recently sat down with the good people of Duotrope for an exclusive editor interview! We present it to you now as a behind-the-scenes look of what makes our journal tick.

Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.

A: Entropy be damned.

Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?

A: Berfrois, Burningword, Tahoma Literary Review, Bat City Review, Front Porch Journal.

Q: Who are your favorite writers?

A: J.A. Batty, Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, Sergio Ortiz, Tyler Kline, Denise Rodriguez, Diana R. Zimmerman, Salvatore Attardo, Safwan Khatib, Natalie Easton, Antonio Renaud, Charles Simic, Billy Collins, Alexander Popa, Michael Ventura.

Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?

A: You’ll never need to hold a mirror under our nose at night to see if we’re still alive—we publish poems as we accept them, meaning that our journal changes and updates and even mutates from week to week. We pride ourselves on our relatively quick turnaround time from submission to publication, which we know is important to writers. We’re invested heavily in both our online and print editions and we strive to make our issues look crisp and visually evocative. We are also active on social media, which we know brings additional publicity to our published writers.

Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

A: If you’ll look at our recent issues, you’ll see that we’ve highlighted the poems that we nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Reading those poems is an efficient (and hopefully inspiring) way for a writer to get to the core of our journal’s aesthetic.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: If every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, then so too is an ideal submission—it’s very hard to predict what combination of words will blow the fuses in the walls. That said, some guidelines apply seemingly everywhere. Read your poems out loud before you submit them. Err on the side of the concrete, the sensual, and the specific. Remember that the root of imagination is the word “image.” And finally, the late and wonderful Mark Strand might have said it best: “The poet provides the reader with a surrogate world through which he reads this world.” Or she.

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: Our process is fairly well streamlined at this point. We seldom have any problems!

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?

A: A brief cover letter is a lovely proof of humanity, the literary equivalent of an apéritif. That said, if you try to get us drunk before the main course, we’ll wonder about you.

Q: How much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?

A: We do our best to read pieces in their entirety—we know how much care goes into a good poem and we feel inclined to reciprocate. But if we find evidence that such care was lacking—noticeable typos, errors in tense or grammar, etc.—then we’ll stop reading. This doesn’t happen very often though.

Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?

A: We have four editors on our staff. If three of us like a poem, it’s in. If the voting is split, sometimes we’ll get together and make impassioned arguments for and against.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: We’ve discovered many of our favorite writers through this journal! It is an honor to read such work.

Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?

A: From the advent of spoken language, all the way through the invention of writing, the printing press, and digital media, and every step in between, artists have gained new tools for expression and for sharing their work. We believe in continuing that tradition as fully as possible, so we offer a full online edition and an e-book edition as well as a traditional print publication. It helps that one of our editors is a web developer.