Read Robin, The Editors Interview

This round robin interview includes the following editors:

Eloisa Amezcua JPEG (1)

ELOISA AMEZCUA’s debut collection, From the Inside Quietly, is the inaugural winner of the Shelterbelt Poetry Prize selected by Ada Limón. She is the founder and editor of The Shallow Ends: A Journal of Poetry. [The Shallow Ends: A Journal of Poetry]

Marcus Clayton

MARCUS CLAYTON is a writer, musician, and college professor from South Gate, CA, whose works appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, lipstickparty magazine, and Tahoma Literary Review, among others. [indicia]

Seth Copeland

SETH COPELAND’s poetry has appeared in Crab FatMenacing HedgeOtolithsSan Pedro River ReviewMud Season Review, and Snorkel. He is the founding editor of Jazz Cigarette, and publishing editor for New Plains Review. Seth teaches and studies at the University of Central Oklahoma. [Jazz Cigarette]

Rachel Sahaidachny

RACHEL SAHAIDACHNY is associate editor of The Indianapolis Review and works as programs manager for The Indiana Writers Center. Her writing has been published in Southeast ReviewRadar PoetryRed Paint Hill, and others. [The Indianapolis Review]

Natalie Solmer

NATALIE SOLMER is the founder and editor in chief of The Indianapolis Review. She teaches English at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis and Ivy Tech Community College. Find links to her work at[The Indianapolis Review]

AJ Urquidi

AJ URQUIDI is a California-based writer/editor. His words appear in journals including Vector Press, Foothill, and Verdad, and received the Gerald Locklin Writing Prize. [indicia]

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Interview with Ben Harper from Topaz Review

Sonora Review intern Rachel Sargent interviews Ben Harper, a 2010 University of Arizona graduate and the Co-Founder and Editor of The Topaz Review, an online arts magazine that features original submissions in both literary and artistic fields.

Could you tell me about the origins of The Topaz Review?The Topaz Review

I’ve always loved writing, poetry, and art, but I’d hit a bit of a creative slump. I’d previously started a little writer’s club called the Knights of the White Elephant, named for the British Poet William McGonagall, purportedly the worst poet in the English language. Some university pranksters wrote a fraudulent letter to McGonagall, conferring him an honorific “Topaz” member of the Knights of the White Elephant, a fictional Burmese order, which he proudly included in his name until his death. So The Topaz Review was intended to be a spiritual successor to the Knights of the White Elephant, giving my friends and me an outlet for our respective arts.

What makes The Topaz Review different from other literary and art publications?

The most notable difference between The Topaz Review and other magazines is our selection process. The three pieces that run each month are selected by the creators of the last month’s pieces, et cetera. The prize money for each month varies substantially—it’s just a fixed percentage of the total submission revenue. We keep a small fraction for website costs (one day, we’ll break even) and the rest is split evenly between the three winners. The visual aesthetic is also much different, a handcrafted design that hearkens back to the pre-Internet ‘zine golden age. Co-Founder and Art Editor Sarah Trainor had the idea of building a website composed of entirely physical components, so we built and scanned every part of the site from construction paper and assembled it all in HTML and CSS. Each page of The Topaz Review is typed in paper using one of our typewriters (generally Sarah’s Royal Safari), which is a pretty laborious process.

Can you tell me more aboThe Topaz Reviewut the process of assembling the magazine?

After typing and scanning the issue we sometimes make a few postproduction corrections to the pages in Photoshop to fix typos and various typewriter errors. Then Sarah designs the cover. Occasionally, we draw the cover art from submissions, but usually Sarah builds a papercraft cover related to the issue’s theme. Next we make a slightly modified, often jokey, variation on that cover, which we use for (God forgive me for uttering this phrase) social-media promotion. While she’s working on that, I write the Letter from the Editors, which tends to have a sort of megalomaniacal, George-Plimpton-on-mushrooms sort of feel to it.

Is there anything specific that you look for in submissions?

Well, that depends on the month’s selection committee. Ideally, we like to see a lot of variety in the media—only one poem, one story, one piece of journalism, one painting, etc. I would love to see less traditional submissions to the magazine, more abstract writing that doesn’t usually appear in litmags. But submissions have been more or less conventional so far. Once we’ve received the submissions, we do look for a common thematic thread in all of them, which becomes the month’s theme and title.

How do you determine what selections will be included in each issue?

We encourage the selection committee to work collaboratively, rather than simply by vote, but the selections are fundamentally up to the committee. It’s very interesting to see what gets picked—it’s almost never the pieces we predict.The Topaz Review

Were there any surprises as you began your work on the publication?

The amount of work entailed in coding and updating the website, typing the draft copy, managing social media and e-mail, and soliciting submissions. I assumed submissions from unpublished artists would just fall from the sky, but, um, they don’t. So tell your friends.

Do you have any long-term plans for the magazine?

We’d love to start printing physical copies, but we need to assemble the capital first. We also intend to publish an issue with all the best submissions that, for whatever reason, haven’t yet been compiled. It’s hard for me to see some of this work languish in obscurity! Mostly, we just want to get things running smoothly. Does anyone out there want a low-paying internship? The Topaz Review was founded in May of 2013 by Ben Harper and Sarah Trainor. Each issue is assembled by hand in Tucson, Arizona. Visit The Topaz Review online for more information.

Rachel Sargent is a student at the University of Arizona. She served as intern for Sonora Review during the production of Issue 64/65.

Nathaniel Perry: Editor of Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review

Nathaniel Perry is the author of Nine Acres (APR/Copper Canyon, 2011), which won the 2011 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize.  He is the editor of the Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review and lives with his family in rural southside Virginia.

Natasha Stagg: Tell us about the Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review.

Nathaniel Perry: I took over three years ago when I came to teach at Hampden-Sydney College in rural southside Virginia.  The journal, though, is quite old – one of the older poetry journals in the country.  It was begun in the mid-seventies, and though it was a small-run handmade affair at the beginning, it published really strong writers:  William Stafford, Louis Simpson, Josephine Jacobsen, and others.  It was edited by the same brave man for all those thirty plus years and had sort of slipped under the radar of the poetry world by the time I came along.  So my job here as editor is to stay true to the long tradition of the journal, but to try to bring it to a wider audience.  I have redesigned the book a bit (it is a little larger, full-color cover, etc.) and I am making an effort to bring widely known writers back into its pages, alongside, of course, exciting new talent.  Recent issues have included work from John Haines, Lisa Jarnot, John Burnside, Maurice Manning, Carol Frost, Robert Wrigley, and others.  The HSPR is an annual, and subscriptions, for those interested, are $12 for two years, $18 for three, and $7 for a single issue.

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Interview with Ben Evans

Ben Evans is the editor of the arts review,, and the collected book of original fiction, poetry and portraits entitled, Fogged Clarity 1. His own poems, essays and reviews have appeared in Gargoyle, Illya’s Honey, The Sugar House Review, Scythe, The Beyond Race Quarterly,, The Ambassador Poetry Project, and San Pedro River Review, among others.  He is a contributing writer for The Huffington Post’s Arts section. 

Natasha Stagg: Tell us about Fogged Clarity.

Ben Evans: Fogged Clarity is a comprehensive arts review featuring exclusive author and artist interviews, poetry, fiction, visual art, music and non-fiction.  We have no constraints when it comes to medium, and will publish anything of sufficient interest and artistic merit.  To date, we have released 27 consecutive monthly issues at, as well as a print collection featuring original work from Joe Meno, Benjamin Percy, John Hemingway and Terese Svoboda.

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

BE: I live with one foot in Muskegon, MI and one in Chicago, but will be heading to the University of Oregon for my MFA in Poetry this fall; upon which, Fogged Clarity will continue its operation from Eugene, with associates working in Chicago, Muskegon, and NYC.

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Sid Miller: Editor of Burnside Review

Sid Miller’s first two full-length poetry collections appeared in 2009: Nixon on the Piano (David Robert Books) and Dot-to-Dot, Oregon (Ooligan Press).  This fall he was the writer-in-residence at the Sitka Center for the Arts.  He is the founder and editor of the literary journal Burnside Review.

Natasha Stagg: How does Burnside Review fit into the world of publishing today?

Sid Miller: I think we’re kind of caught in between worlds.  We still are (and will always be) a paper journal.  While we tend to publish less contemporary styled work, our aesthetic is more modern.

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

SM: I suppose every journal/magazine does something that no one else is doing, purely because of the editors.  Beyond that, our size and visual aesthetic is unique.

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

SM: I am from Honolulu, Hawaii and live in Portland, Oregon.

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?

SM: It’s hard to say, and often depends on my mood.  It’s different with independent journals (such as Burnside Review). Are we a necessity? Of course not.  Is it purely for my vanity?  I hope not. I guess in some ways editing is just another form of artistic expression.

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