Apparently you are a glutton for punishment as you have returned to my lair for yet another installment of Bread Crumbs from the Void. You are in luck, fellow travelers of the digital realm, for you have arrived on a rather special night. Or afternoon. Or morning, depending on where you happen to be located and when you manage to steal away the precious few moments necessary to devour this column with your eyes. Hold on to your potatoes, because you are about to witness something completely different.
Without me yammering on for an extended period, I delight in welcoming all of you to the commencement of a brand new feature here at Bread Crumbs from the Void: The “Prefect Ten”! No, your eyes doth not deceive your limited capacity frontal lobes. The ‘Prefect’ in “Prefect Ten” is not a typo. It is a new series where I will pose ten questions to established editors/publishers whom I respect and admire. Heed the words and tremble before those whom I bring before you, maggots! They are exponentially more experienced than you shiftless layabouts who rarely fucking write and often gripe about the rejection from the exclusive literary night club.
Now it is my distinct honor to present the formidable and unparalleled Kolleen Carney.
1. Talk about how you came to take over as Editor-In-Chief for Drunk Monkeys magazine.
Matthew Guerruckey, the founder of Drunk Monkeys, approached me last year after AWP to run the social media accounts for the journal. I run the social media for Zoetic Press, and I have a lot of fun doing that, so I was totally on board. When I relocated to CA, Matthew told me he was going to shut down the journal; it’s a labor of love, and it takes up a lot of time, and he wanted to focus on his own stuff. I would have hated to see DM shut down, so I suggested I take over for an interim. And here I am! I am so pumped that Matt trusted me with his creation; we talk every day and he is still very much involved with the journal.
2. Aside from being an incredible writer yourself, what interested you in becoming an editor?
Power! Just kidding… To be honest, I have been working on literary magazines and journals for a really long time: Soundings East, Lunch Ticket, Paper Nautilus, Zoetic Press. All amazing publications. I guess being a writer myself, and submitting to publications, it is nice to know how that process works. I like being as involved with the literary community as possible, and my social anxiey often keeps me away from readings or things like the Los Angles Book Fair, so at least I can be involved from my couch.
I honestly think all writers should be required to work on the staff of a magazine or journal for a year, just so they can understand the process and learn the etiquette of abiding by the submission guidelines. Some stuff we get would astound you. I once got a poem written completely in RUNES.
3. Is there a specific trait that tends to attract you to a submission, are the secret ingredients typically ineffable, or is it a combo of the two?
This is such a hard question to answer because there really isn’t one or two elements that makes me swoon. It’s no specific THING. We have a staff of editors, so I don’t really read each piece, though I could– I trust them. We all have our own preferences, but I just like a poem that makes me feel something, or a piece of fiction that is new and exciting.
4. What is the scope of work that Drunk Monkeys publishes?
I like to think that we publish a wide range of things. We have our recurring articles; your art (the comic strip MR. BUTTERCHIPS), Gabriel Ricard’s movie column, M.G. Poe’s political pieces. We have our fiction section, and we’ve published satire, or more serious works. Our poetry has run the gamut of radical feminism, responses to the Orlando shooting, and sexual violence, as well as your more traditional pieces. If it’s good, it’s good, and if we like it, we’ll take it.
5. What are your submission pet peeves?
Please, read the guidelines. Please. Don’t try to wow us with your cover letter; short and sweet is the way to go. Check for spelling errors. Upload the right file. Just be thorough, that’s all I ever want!
6. Give an example (or two) of how not to respond to a rejection.
Just one or two? My god, I could talk about this all day. The way people respond to rejection is a real hard time.
There is absolutely NO NEED to respond to a rejection unless you are asked to. I have seen the most bonkers responses: “Well fuck you too then!” or “I didn’t want to be in your journal anyway!” Where do you think that sort of attitude is going to get you, beyond me remembering your name so I don’t waste my time reading your work? I promise you every editor of every journal has experienced this, and it’s such a toxic problem in the literary world. I see right through it, and it is the most obnoxious thing.
A pet peeve of mine is the “Ok, thank you” response, only because I have a feeling of dread when I open it, expecting hostility. I appreciate the sentiment, but it’s not super necessary. This is my own issue though.
I have been rejected time and time again, and I have never let it bother me more than a moment of “Ah, jeez”. It is such a natural part of being a writer, I will never understand the need to be upset, or angry, or violent about it.
7. Does a writer need any previous credits for their work to be considered?
Nah. Everyone starts somewhere, and I am a firm believer in “the work speaks for itself”. If you have a ton of publishing credits, that is super great and I am pumped for you, but I would never decline a piece because you’ve never published a thing in your life. Some of the greatest pieces I’ve read are from people who have never published anything at all. Everyone starts somewhere.
8. What do you see for the future of Drunk Monkeys (and online literary journals in general)?
Well, that’s really up to Matthew– it’s his journal. But I love doing this, I love being an EIC. And I would love to expand our audience as much as possible. Additionally, it is important to support other journals, and it’s easy when they have an online presence. retweeting, sharing calls, posts we like; it’s something I would like to focus on more. Someday I know we’d love to be a paying market; that’s a hard thing to be, but I feel we can achieve that eventually.
9. What advice would you offer to aspiring writers?
I wrote an article about this recently (http://five2onemagazine.com/sincere-advice-from-a-girl-whose-life-is-a-mess-12-2-questions-kolleen-carney-weekly-column/)! Someone wrote in asking for advice about being a writer, and what it boiled down to in the end was: read and write as much as you can. Seriously, don’t stop reading and writing. I am guilty of not making the time for both, and I can tell you my writing is always better the more I read and write. And don’t just submit to say you submitted. Know the journals you’re submitting to, know the content they produce.
10. Who are a few of your favorite writers and why?
Oh man. Fiction, I love Lidia Yuknavitch (her memoir is amazing, too), Vladimir Nabokov, Stephen King, jeez, I dunno. I like a lot of stuff. A.M. Homes writes really dark, fucked up stuff. I love this one book by a guy named Andrew Foster Altschul, “Lady Lazarus”. It’s a little goofy, but it’s based on Frances Bean Cobain, and man, I love that book. I think it’s smart. Clever.
Poetry, I’m all about Sharon Olds and Kim Addonizio; confessional poetry is my thing. I met them both at the Mass Poetry Festival and I was a blubbering fool. I recommend Emily Corwin to everyone I know, her poetry is like a scary fairy tale. I was recently introduced to Alicia Partnoy and Ruth Irupé Sanabria, and wow. Just wow. Cynthia Cruz, Blas Falconer, and I love my friend Joey Gould’s work. He needs a book deal; he is the best poet I have ever read.
Kolleen is a Burbank based poet with an undergraduate degree in English from Salem State University and an MFA in Poetry from Antioch University Los Angeles. She served thrice as an assistant editor and once as the co-editor of poetry for Lunch Ticket, as well as assistant poetry editor for Paper Nautilus and Soundings East. She is currently the social media coordinator for Zoetic Press, as well as an assistant poetry editor; she is the editor-in-chief and social media coordinator for Drunk Monkeys; she formerly served as the social media coordinator for The Citron Review and FIVE 2 ONE: An Art and Literary Journal.
Her chapbook “Me and the Twelve Step Program” was published by the Salem State Center for Creative and Performing Arts in 2003. Her chapbook “Your Hand Has Fixed the Firmament” is forthcoming from Grey Books Press. Her poetry and other writings have appeared or will be appearing in Currents, Vision/ Verse, Lunch Ticket, and MassPoetry.org, Golden Walkman, The Watershed Review, Incredible Sestinas, Uno Kudo Vol. 4, A Quiet Courage, Yellow Chair Review, Drunk Monkeys, Clever Girl Magazine, and Five 2 One Magazine. Her advice column, Sincere Advice From a Girl Whose Life is a Mess, appears in Five:2:One magazine. Learn more about Kolleen at her ever under-construction website: kolleencarney.com.
In the immortal words of Porky Pig, “That’s all, folks!” My undying gratitude to Kolleen for stepping up at such short notice!
As always, if you would like to hear me elaborate a bit more on my own process, you can find links to a couple of interviews conducted recently with me on my website at: https://alexschumacherart.com/about/. Drop me a line from the contact page if you have any other questions, complaints, insults, or declarations of lust.
Bread Crumbs from the Void will return in two weeks with another thrilling edition of hard-nosed reality for you big-talkers and wannabes. Until next time, keep scribbling you freaks.
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