Interview with Editor: Darren Jackson

4 mins read

Darren Jackson is the Editor of Grist: The Journal for Writers (on Facebook). A doctoral candidate at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, he has had fellowships at VCCA in France and Virginia and was a finalist for the Prague Summer Program’s Pavel Srut Fellowship. His work has appeared in Smartish Pace, Iron Horse, Cimarron Review, and other journals. Forthcoming work includes poems in Folio and an anthology, The Cento: An Anthology of Collage Poems (Red Hen Press) and translations of Henri Michaux in The Dirty Goat.

Natasha Stagg: Tell us about Grist.

Darren Jackson: Grist publishes fiction, poetry, interviews and non-fiction focused on issues of craft and poetics. We also feature a special genre in each issue. In the past, we’ve featured the graphic novel, one act plays, and creative non-fiction.

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

DJ: I’m from New Mexico and I live in Tennessee.

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

DJ: We provide a writer’s view of the literary community. Our tastes are eclectic and we strive to produce a broad spectrum of what’s being written today.

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

DJ: Yes, our emphasis on craft essays and interviews contextualizes the fiction and poetry and juxtaposes differing aesthetic approaches as equals in a single community.

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?

DJ: I love journals. While both journals and anthologies have their advantages, I think that journals participate in the living moment; anthologies seem to capture a moment past.

NS: What kind of stuff does your journal publish?

DJ: We’re interested in the full range of contemporary writing.

NS: So, how do we submit?

DJ: We read between July 15 and November 1. Submissions received outside of these dates will be recycled. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable as long as we are immediately notified if the piece has been accepted elsewhere. Please do not mix genres in the same submission. We do not consider previously published work.  We do not charge a reading fee.

Please send the following:

Fiction: Experimental or traditional forms. 10,000 words max.
Poetry: Avante-garde, free-verse, traditional. Submit 3-6 poems.
Non-fiction: While we remain committed to the tradition of publishing craft essays, the staff at Grist is now also considering for publication nonfiction essays, including memoir, lyric essays, short shorts, and experimental forms. We are, however, unable to read submissions of more than 7,000 words.
Submit your work via Submishmash.

Please note that we no longer accept postal submissions.

NS: Do you think literary journals are endangered?

DJ: No.

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

DJ: Not at all. Nor is the literary world likely to become monolithically digital anytime soon.

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

DJ: No to both. Nor should we wish for some Darwinian process to weed out the “less fit” who serve an important function in the literary community by broadening the audience for writing.

NS: What about book-publishing?

DJ: I don’t think so. Many people love the feel of the printed object. Consider the number of presses producing hand-bound objets d’art. I’m willing to bet that the number of presses crafting small, hand-made books will increase in some proportion to those choosing to go exclusively digital.

NS: Had you heard of Sonora Review before this?

DJ: Of course.