I wanted to let you know that I will be moving all interviews to my other site (www.telltellediting.com), but I will also keep the posts here!
The founder of GIRL CANON sat down with Tell Tell to talk about Harriet the Spy and her favorite GIRL CANON list.
TellTell: Why did you start GIRL CANON?
“Girlcanon” was already taken, but I’m a big fan of the Riot Grrrl movement that began in the 90s, that formed as a way of interrupting traditional notions of punk rock as a very male space. The message is similar to Girl Canon’s–there are female ways of being in the world that disrupt misogynist messages and create space for women. I like to think that Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” would be a Girl Canon participant and reader:
I love the idea behind GIRL CANON–it’s the website that I wished existed when I was fifteen, but I’m so happy that it exists now–what would be included on your girl canon?
Anyway, here are some books that make my list:
From my childhood:
Do you have a GIRL CANON list that you feel particularly close to?
They’re all very wonderful, but those are two that stick out to me.
My child self wanted to live in a Sharon Creech novel, where all the heroines are smart and funny and independent. My adult self prefers to read in an oversized t-shirt in her big bed and do my traveling into literature from there. Fiction is too gruesome and stressful to live inside of.
Steven D. Schroeder’s “The Royal Nonesuch” came out in 2013 by Spark Wheel Press. Here are 10 reasons to read “The Royal Nonesuch” immediately.
1. “When I told him I feared/ the darkened yard, how long before garden gnomes/started appearing in my bedroom overnight?” (19).
2. “If by evening you mean overflowing crockpot” (23).
3. “I want to be a mogul,/ a highrise or charisma.” (24).
4. “Chlamydia is a flower and a cash crop, so drop your pants” (38).
5. “Your song made better shoes and wheels and dreams and everything/ in every single size” (40).
6. “Benjamin get/ your bindle from despond, swim the English/ language” (42).
7. “Late-night regret comes on as a brunette/ is a bullshit line yet felt right at the time” (49).
8. “Let us tomato onions/ at old McDonald’s salmonella” (53).
9. “Someone’s body/ hits a river branch and breaks in half” (71).
10. “Half of every storyteller cuts the other off–” (78).
Sarah, the founder of Submittrs, sat down with TellTell to gives us the nitty-gritty of her online submission management system. There is still some time to submit to their Indiegogo campaign, so go and support them!
1. How does Submittrs work?
This is a big question! Maybe I’ll focus on what it would be like to get started with an account on Submittrs. You’d have four blank pages, Pieces, Submissions, Submittees, and Ledger. You’d start by adding pieces to your Pieces page. You type in a title where it says “Enter a new piece,” click Add (or press enter), and there the piece is! All pieces have check boxes next to them. You can select pieces and then tag them using another field on the page. Later you can filter by tags to view less pieces at a time.
Then it’s time to start making submissions. They are entered on the Pieces page too. You enter the name of a Submittee (magazine, journal, agent, etc.) where it says “Enter a new submittee” and click Add. Then you use the checkboxes to select pieces and click Add Selected Pieces. (If you already had pieces selected, it will add them automatically when you enter the Submittee name.) If it’s a sim sub, you can just keep adding Submittees at this stage. If you don’t want to sim sub any of the pieces, there’s a check box you should click that says Warn me about SimSubs.
There are also fields at this point for you to note reading fees, the date of the submission, and the status of the submission. (Mostly you’ll be adding submissions that are open, but if you want to put in records of old submissions that were rejected or accepted, you do that here as well.) When you’re done, you click Save Submission.
Now you can find submissions on your Submission page. (And if there were readings fees, those now appear in the “Money I’ve spent” column on your Ledger page.) As you hear back, you’ll update your submissions on your Submission page. Click on the bold title(s) to see Submission Details. See all the pieces that went out, how long it’s been out, and enter a response. If you get an acceptance, you’ll be asked to select which pieces were accepted, and you can enter any payment you might be receiving (which will then appear in the “Money I’ve earned” column on your Ledger page). You can also make notes.
As you hear back from a lot of submissions, your Submittee page will start to fill up. It will create a list of all the submittees that have taken your work, what I like to think of as friendly markets. It will create a list of those that have invited you to submit again (I had a tendency to forget about these, especially if they said, please send again during our next reading period). It will create a list of your notes. And you can add submittees to your “Next I want to send to” list. If you click on a submitee’s name anywhere on the site, it will show you your submission history with them and their average response time.
Whew–that was a lot of information! The key is that all the pages work together, updating each other, so that the writer never feels like their actions on the site are repetitive or waste any of their time, and so that the writer always feels like they have multiple routes of access to all their information.
2. How is Submittrs different from Submittable or other submission managers?
So glad you asked this! We don’t offer any services to journals the way that Submittable does. I see my Submittable account as working in tandem with my Submittrs account. I don’t need to actually go to my Submissions page on Submittable anymore, but I do because I’m a sucker for seeing when things go from Received to In-Progress. But if I want to see how long my submissions have been out, or my past submissions, or anything else, I go to Submittrs. I can get to the information I want more quickly on Submittrs because it’s designed for the writer’s side rather than journal’s side of submitting.
3. How did you guys come up with the idea for Submittrs?
I never found a good way to keep track of submissions before we made Submittrs. My first spreadsheet included postal addresses, reading periods, and lots of other information because I was thinking of what would save me time later instead of what would actually be good record keeping. And when I started a new spreadsheet, I found myself nicknaming batches of poems instead of putting every title. Why did I do that? I did not remember what went where two years later when I was on a new computer with only some of my documents transferred over.
I tried using Word for awhile, and when I started submitting my completed manuscript, I started an email thread that I kept updating. I ended up having my records everywhere! And I’ve read testimonials about having multiple spreadsheet, or a spreadsheet and a notebook, or a file of index cards, and more and more variations. I’ve heard about elaborate color coordinating systems. I’ve heard about computers crashing and people losing records. I’ve heard about using old websites that suddenly become defunct.
It became clear that I was not the only one struggling with the best system for this, the most time effective and helpful system. I drew a lot of pictures for my husband about how I was thinking a website could work, and we talked it all through, and he made it for me. I’m so grateful to him for doing that.
4. Can you show us some screen shots of what Submittrs looks like?
I’d love to! The video on our indiegogo shows our Demo account, but here are some shots of my account which I’ve been using for about six months now. It’s a little personal, but here goes!
This is a shot of my Pieces page, showing my unpublished pieces and filtering by what I’ve tagged as New.
And this is a shot of my Submissions page, showing my Open submissions and without filtering by any of my tags. You can see I tag by collection title and type of submission (Journal, Contest, Anthology, Press, etc.). (When you add pieces to a submission on the Pieces page, it will carry over any tags those pieces had to the submission on the Submissions page.)
5. Where do you see Submittrs in the next five years?
I hope we’re serving a lot of writers at that point! I really want to have a portion of the site that’s available to everyone for free, with features like a “This Week’s Responses” so people can see what magazines have been actively responding to submissions that week. I also hope we have features I haven’t even thought of yet because they are recommended by our users in the future. I hope it’s a great five years!
Amber Rambharose, founder of Forthcoming Poets, talked to TellTell about why she started the site and what she’s working on in her own writing.
Why did you decide to start Forthcoming Poets?
I decided to start Forthcoming Poets because I was out of school and thirsty for some inspiration. While I was a student, visiting writers would come in for “shop talks” on craft, process, and poetry in general, and these talks always left me excited to write. I wanted to recreate that experience for people who are passionate about poetry but lack the support system of a writing group, a workshop, or a physical literary community. I also wanted Forthcoming Poets readers to see that being a writer is not a “one size fits all” career. Not everyone strikes gold during an MFA program. Not everyone gets his or her first manuscript picked up. There are a thousand different ways to be successful and I want to share that with people everywhere.
In your first issue, you interviewed Kelly Davio and Rebecca Hazelton. How did you pick your interviewees?
I chose poets I was acquainted with whose work I greatly admired. I was very nervous about “cold calling” poets before the blog was established so reaching out to poets I knew through networking made those first few steps a little less painless. Of course, they’re both absolutely brilliant writers who are doing innovative things with poetry.
What is the weirdest poetry-related advice you’ve ever heard or received? (I modified this interview question from your site).
“Stop trying to hard.” This was the weirdest because it is the opposite of what I’m driven to do as a writer and because it worked so well.
Why do you think it’s important to provide a space where you can interview poets?
I don’t think there should be a hierarchy in the poetry world and I wanted to break down barriers with Forthcoming Poets. When writers would visit my university, I would be too afraid to ask questions about their work. In retrospect, that was ridiculous and I missed a huge opportunity to learn a lot about my craft. Getting a chance to peer into the brain of the person behind the brilliant line breaks and the heartbreaking verse is, for me, just as beautiful as experiencing the art they create.
Who are five of your favorite contemporary poets?
In no particular order: Traci Brimhall, Eduardo Corral, Lauren Berry, Emilia Phillips, and Kerri Webster.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading a lot of fiction right now, actually. It’s informing my poetry in a huge way because I tend to gallop towards rhetorical abstractions and images that conceal what I’m actually trying to say. Reading fiction helps ground me in the language of the real. I’m currently pouring over the short story collections of Joe Meno and Aimee Bender.
What are you currently working on in your own writing? What is the title of the last story or poem you wrote?
In my own writing, I’m working on consistency. I work in fits and starts – an idea strikes, I do a ton of drafting and research, and then it sort of fades out. Right now, I’m working on finishing up my first chapbook and getting it ready to send out. The title of the last poem I wrote was “Lies I Told My Sister.”
What do you hope the next few months will look like for Forthcoming Poets. Are there any poets you are dying to interview? Are there any poets you are afraid to interview?
I’m very excited about the next few months! I’m trying to nail down a publishing schedule so the blog doesn’t go too hard in these early days and then fizzle out. I’ve currently got interviews lined up with Roger Reeves, Cathy Parker Hong, Eduardo Corral, and Sean Thomas Dougherty. Now that I’ve gotten a bit more comfortable with queries, if I’m excited about a poet, I just reach out to them and hopefully they respond. So far, that’s worked well. As far as fear…there’s always an initial lurch in the stomach after I send an email, but since the interviews are done via correspondence, there isn’t much to be afraid of.
Can you talk to us about what a day-in-the-life is like for Amber?
A day in my life is pretty varied. One great thing about living in Chicago is that I get to do a lot of different things. I work as a reading tutor, a photographer’s assistant, and at a talent management agency. On any given day I could be in the office, on a shoot, or holed up in a coffee shop trying to scrawl out a poem. The only thing that doesn’t change from day to day is that I try to dwell in poetry at least a little bit–whether that’s reading or writing depends on my schedule.
Here are 3 reasons to read Lawrence Gladeview’s debut book Just Ignore the Beer Stains (PigeonBike Press).
1. “I signed eight books/ & was told pound/ would punch me/ right in the nose.”
2. “one day/ that typewriter/ will score/ me an exit.”
3. “never did see/ lorraine again,/ her pie was/ sweetest of all.”
TellTell: Your chapbook, The Spectacular Crash, came out recently from H_NGM_N. How long did it take you to write the book?
With the exception of the last poem in the chapbook, I wrote most of these over the course of a winter and a spring.
Where was your manuscript written?
Most of these were written in my apartment but a handful were written in Hungary last winter. All were written on my laptop. I don’t hand write drafts of anything. I’m told that is unpure.
How did you come up with the title?
The Spectacular Crash was the title of a poem I’d written a while before the project came together. I went looking through old work and revisited this poem. I realized that it, the poem itself, tied the whole project together. I placed this poem at the end of my chapbook and ordered the rest so that they progressed toward the finality of this poem. I realized then that The Spectacular Crash was the title of the project. It’s a metaphor for the friendship which inspired and fueled the chapbook as a whole.
How long did it take for your chapbook to get picked up?
I started sending it out around February of 2013. H_NGM_N picked it up mid-May. I’d only sent it to a few places and at the time I was still waiting for a couple of responses but I went with H_NGM_N because they are a really special press.
In your poem, “DON’T WORRY ABOUT YOUR HAIR BECAUSE THE WORLD IS ON FIRE” you write “I asked you for a toothbrush/ and you gave me Chlamydia.” Is there anything that you think is off limits in poetry? Any language you wouldn’t include?
I don’t love poetry full of curse words that don’t function within a larger scope of meaning, beyond the words themselves. If they are what most stands out about a poem, then I think they are in the wrong place. This particular poem became known as the “Chlamydia poem” within my small circle of readers. Knowing this made me really consider the value of such a negative notion within the poem but I decided that it contributes to the poem’s momentum and integrity. The poem which contains it is the first poem of the chapbook and I wanted the poem to really push the reader onto the tracks, you know? Or in front of the train, so to speak.
How did you come up with the poem title “TOGETHER WE WILL RESEMBLE A SMALL MYTH ABOUT ARMS”?
This is the third poem in the chapbook and one of my favorites. Because this chapbook indirectly narrates the decomposition of a relationship between two people, I chose the titles accordingly. A “small myth about arms” refers to the enclosed space of a hug and the validity of an embrace. I was searching for a way to say that an embrace can have so many different meanings to all involved, all as equally true as they are false or fabled. When watched, though, the meaning is usually static.
Many of your poems explore place or even particular places. Do you need to be in a particular place to write about that place?
Not at all. In fact, when I’m drawing inspiration from a particular place, I usually prefer to be somewhere else entirely. I feel like I need to take a few steps back and remove myself to really understand the meaning of being anywhere. Time plays into this, but only a little.
What is a typical day like for you?
Begins with coffee. Often too much. And I’m always running because I’m always late. I do most of my writing in the mornings before school and work.
What were you reading when you wrote the poems in your chapbook?
Heather Christle and Ariana Reines.
I love the lines “Ask me if I am taller. Ask me if I am winning the race” and ” What is your favorite line or lines from your chapbook?
We will be friends forever like so many frogs crouched in the mud,
ambling toward a brave new democracy.
We welcome ourselves into the jungle and it is quiet in its middle.
We welcome ourselves delicately into the season of goats
like espoused women looking for rain.
These lines from “Please come to my poetry reading” are some I most often returned to when struggling with revisions and sequencing. I think they best capture, or rather, exude the mood that I was trying to capture with this chapbook as a whole. They represent the underlying narrative and come close to its actuality.
Were most of these poems composed in the goal of putting them in a chapbook, or did you compile the chapbook later?
I think I’d written about half of what is in the chapbook when I finally felt safe calling it one in progress. It felt pretty weird but also pushed me to synchronize a bit.
Who are 5 of your favorite contemporary poets?
Five seems such an impossibly small number. This is a terribly difficult question. There are so many.
Name 5 of your favorite journals or presses
Where do you see yourself and your writing in 5 years?
I’ve got 2.5 years left in school. I hope to have a book ready by the end of that. I like teaching so I’d love to keep with that too but I also change my mind far too often to give a practical answer to this question. Leaving Los Angeles after 22 years was a feat. I lived a different life for the eight years between undergrad and now. I’m starting to feel settled here in Arkansas for the moment but ultimately don’t plan to stay. Maybe I’ll go camp out on Alice Notley’s porch in Paris, degree in pocket. Does she have a porch? I have a playlist called “Runaway Songs,” if that tells you anything.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a new manuscript tentatively titled In Share of Light. I’m really loving Susan Briante’s Utopia Minus right now. I really appreciate poetry that infuses the traditional with the current, the natural with the artificial. I’m trying to do something similar. I want to weave a tangible narrative about economic boundaries into a fairy tale about unicorns, for example. That’s not literally what’s happening though.
What is the title of the last poem you wrote.
“You are a congressional rhythm of human chemistry”
Please send us a link to your favorite song so we can get to know you better.
I’ve embraced pop music this year. I’m all about Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Kanye and Miley. In undergrad, it was Dashboard Confessional and Saves the Day. I still have a Saves the Day t-shirt. I also have Mozart on my iPod. I can’t answer this question because if I tried, it would take me another month to finish this.
meekling press is beautiful and small and perfect. And they decided to chat with TellTell, so go support them!
Kallie: Why did you start meekling press?
Where did the name for your press come from?
What kind of work do you usually publish? What do you look for when people submit?
If you could only read 3 authors for the rest of your life, who would they be, and why.
What is a day-in-the-life of Rebecca/John like?