Interview: Amanda McCormick

Amanda McCormick is a poet, painter, maker-of-art-out-of-garbage,-etc.  Her poems have appeared in The Unrorean.  She currently is the editor and web master of the Apalachee Review as well as the founding editor of espresso ink. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

Kelly Scherwitzki:  What obstacles do you face working for an established magazine (Apalachee Review) and establishing your own magazine (espresso ink)?

Amanda McCormick:  Both magazine pose different challenges.  For espresso ink the biggest challenge is to get people caring about the journal.  Part of that has to do with establishing creditability and getting people involved and invested. There are many literary magazines out there and it is tough for a new journal to prove that it is worth reading.  This is especially the case now that people aren’t reading as much.  Even established magazines are struggling or falling to the wayside.  As founding editor of espresso ink I am constantly trying to give the journal a unique and useful identity.   Apalachee Review, however, doesn’t come with the same worry.  Our creditability as a Florida journal is established enough to keep us going as long as we do what we do.  Instead of looking for a readership, we have one so our only challenge as editors is to continue to produce journals that are consistently filled with quality work. That, and to manage the submission load since momentum has kept them coming in; thankfully.

KS:  There are a lot of literary magazines out there, how are the Apalachee Review and espresso ink different, how are they similar?

AM: Apalachee Review is more of a traditional-type literary journal where as espresso ink  aims to be an interactive dialogue, representing a specific mindset when approaching art.  What’s interesting is that despite their difference in audience and content, the way they are produced is both similar and typical, like any other journal.

KS:  You are an artist yourself and support the dissemination of art; what do you think it takes to be established as an artist?  What allows you to call yourself an artist?

AM:  This is one of those questions that will never have a definite answer.  I believe that for an artist to be established they must be recognized by people in the artistic community.  Since few artists would think of their selves as being or becoming “established,” the term is more of a public perception than a personal identifier or quality a craftsman should possess.  This term is relative to other people since it is reliant on members of the artistic community. An “artist” is someone who produces art—which is easier enough to grasp but the real thing in question is the definition of “art.”  It’s easier to identify classical forms as art (like poetry and sculpting) because forms like these have already been accepted by the artistic community but who would not say that fine gourmet cuisine is not art, not to mention pay good money for it?  The term “art” and the people who create it is relative to one’s perception.

KS:  The role of the artist seems to be understated or overlooked in our society; what you think about the practical applications of art?

AM:  Aside from the obvious practicality of those forms on non-traditional art that exist in our everyday world (such as cookery, carpentry, or even teaching) there are many cultural benefits to having an art-rich society.  One huge benefit is the understanding of the human condition and sentiment.  This is mutually beneficial between both artist and observer: through another’s interpretation one can better understand their own.  Art also pushes humans to have a better attention to details and promotes precision, both qualities that are useful (and practical) in many “real life” situations.

KS:  The definition of “art” or “artist” has expanded beyond classical or traditional types to something as open-ended as “anyone that is masterful in their field”; how does that change the expectations of artists like writers and painters?

AM:  I don’t think that it changes the expectations of traditional artist so much as it changes the way we look at skilled work.  By saying something is “like an art” when it isn’t necessarily intended to be artistic, you are commending the qualities of traditional art.  This also reinforces the fact that art is a cultural influence in our society therefore is of practical interest.

KS:  Who are you reading now?  What are you working on next?

AM:  Currently I am reading whatever I can get my hands on (most recently the Seriously Funny anthology edited by David Kirby and Barbra Hamby and Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw).  I am working on a novel and various paintings.

Kelly Scherwitzki is a Poetry Editor for the Sonora Review.

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