Interview with Editor: Carolyn Zukowski

Carolyn is an American living  in Český Krumlov, Czech Republic, where she owns and operates Hostel Krumlov House and lives with her Canadian husband and two growing boys, aged 8 and 13.
Her literary career started as an intern at AGNI and later as an editorial assistant at Harvard/Radcliffe. After moving to Czech, she morphed into English teacher, translator, travel writer (CitySpots: Prague, CitySpots: Budapest, both by Thomas Cook Publications), and editor of the Literary Bohemian. You can find her poetry in 14×14, Foundling Review, Literary Mama, Perigee, Umbrella Journal, and elsewhere. She’s currently working towards her MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

Natasha Stagg: Tell me more about The Literary Bohemian

Carolyn Zukowski: [It] is all about words and wanderlust. We feature poetry, prose, travelogue, irreverent book reviews, as well as link to international writers accommodations and must-see-ums. In short, our journal is for writers on the move.

NS: Where are you from, and where do you live now?

CZ: Originally from the US – State of Maine – Now living in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic.

NS: How does your magazine fit into the world of publishing today?

NS: Our magazine is a perfect example of how web design can triumph over print publication. We joined CLMP, but decided to drop it, as we can’t afford to attend any of the conferences. In our three short years of publishing, we’ve managed to get accolades from Poets&Writers, Canongate Books (UK), New Pages, and Luna Park.  No sleep ’til …Brooklyn!

NS: Does it do anything that no one else is doing?

CZ: Yes. Our literary magazine also has a “Signs of Life” section — weird and hilarious sign / menu translations one meets while traveling. We also offer the LOCKSS system, which means that our online publication will be archived in perpetuity. For writers this means their words won’t die with the last printed copy — with LOCKSS they can always be searched on library databases.

NS: How do you feel about literary journals in general: simply a necessary means to an end, or something more worthwhile than even anthologies these days?

CZ: Literary journals could be categorized as “the things we do for love.” They aren’t necessary, and that’s what makes them so special. This priceless little baby has cost us plenty of unpaid time,  takes us away from our real jobs, our real obligations. It’s a free gym membership for our editing muscles.

NS: What kind of stuff does your journal publish?

CZ: Loosely : Travel-related poetry, postcard prose, and travelogue. Specifically: Literary pieces that really move the reader.

NS: How do we submit?

CZ: We accept submissions year-round through our free, online portal:

The Literary Bohemian is the final destination for first-class, travel-inspired writing that transports the reader, non-stop, to Elsewhere. We are only interested in pieces that move us.

Writers’ guidelines

poetry (three to five poems, no more than 100 lines each)

postcard prose (up to two pieces, no more than 300 words each)

travelogue (one piece up to 1200 words) –Please refrain from using the following words: amazing, ancient, beautiful, charming, fabulous, lovely, magical, rich, romantic, timeless or undiscovered unless you are being ironic.

NS: Do you think literary journals are endangered?

CZ: Online literary journals are popping up like mushrooms all over the place, as they require less money and resources to start, while printed literary journals are coming under the axe due to shrinking financial resources and lack of arts funding. However, all literary magazines are doomed to failure — Most editors bail out after two or three years, not because of the market, but because it’s too difficult to maintain the energy needed to go over submissions, edit, and create a new product on a regular basis. The support of a university arts program or state/federal arts agencies will ensure the survival of The Literary Journal.

NS: Is becoming “online only” something to be worried about?

CZ: It’s not a problem for us. We would love to publish  “The Best of Literary Bohemian” series one day, but we don’t have the money or time to invest in that right now. We are thrilled that our website has become the place where the cool kids hang out.

NS: Will only the fittest survive, and could this be a good thing?

CZ: Competition drives us all to greatness, doesn’t it? We will try to keep on top of the literary food chain, by keeping track of trends in the industry.

NS: What about book-publishing?

CZ: Book publishing is consumer-driven. The next five years will tell, as e-readers develop and the prices of e-books become cheaper. I would like to believe that paper books are here to stay,  and that major book publishers might develop a new way of distribution: more of a POD (Print on Demand) model, to reduce waste.

NS: Had you heard of Sonora Review before this?

CZ: Yes, of course!

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