Staff Interview

We would like to introduce our staff!

Danielle  MA2  Allie Marini Batts  IO2

RLTSummer  IMG_0166  KateGorton editor photo  cisco_biopic

We had so much fun with our intern interview for the first issue, so we decided to interview our entire staff for the second issue, and it was even more fun. (Fun is something happens quite often at Spry.)

How quickly do you decide that you are going to reject a piece? Will you always give it the benefit of the doubt and read the entire thing or do you go with your gut instinct straight away?

Allie: I’m pokier when it comes to rejecting work–as a working writer myself, I want to make sure that I give every piece the consideration that I’d want my own work treated with. YES pieces I know immediately–those are like love at first sight–but there are writers whose work is so finely nuanced that one read isn’t going to reveal all of its secrets. I will always err on the side of holding work, reading it through no less than twice but sometimes up to five times before voting a solid no to it.

Ioanna: It is rare for me not to read an entire piece. That doesn’t mean I don’t inevitably, unconsciously, and perhaps unfortunately read some works more carefully than others, depending on how engaged I am early on, either by the language, the story, a character, an image, or some other element. But I think reading through to the end is the only chance we have, as readers, at understanding what a writer is trying to do. Poet and author Edward Hirsch has written, “Every work of art needs a respondent to complete it. It is only partially realized without that imaginative response,” and I completely agree. As a writer myself, I appreciate having my work read in its entirety the way I appreciate being able to finish a sentence in a conversation. As a teacher, I feel programmed to read with opportunity in mind. That opportunity can’t be grasped with a quick read, or without following the work through to its completion. To discern the promise of a piece, I think we sometimes need to give it a chance to deliver on that promise.

But here, of course, I’m describing an ideal for my readerly self, one that I live up to with varying degrees of success at any given moment. I’m also a readerly animal, and I often sense quite quickly when something is going to either repel me or draw me in.

 

What attracts you to a submission? Are there different characteristics in different genres that makes you like the piece?

Richard: Interesting language, sentence structure, and showing, not telling (non/fiction), or emotional charge (poetry).
Zac: I love absurdity in poetry. I think the more abstract and off-the-wall a poem can be, the more I find it attractive. I think if a poem can make me feel something so concrete and within reality when the story of the poem is the complete opposite, the author has created some incredible art. For fiction, I think having a basis in reality but just putting a toe into surreality is really tough but quite an experience for the reader. With nonfiction, I actually prefer something a little more grounded. I always love a story that will make me cry or make me feel something in the bottommost part of my gut. I think for an author to take a personal experience, translate onto a page, and then make the reader feel that emotion—sometimes even harder than the author—THAT is incredible. Isn’t that what every reader wants? An experience that will change the way one thinks.
Mark-Anthony:  To me, a good piece is simply entertaining and true, though how I define those terms probably changes as often as I blink.

 

What drew you to reading for Spry? What did you gain from this experience?

Zac: I loved reading for Spry. I thought it was a funky little journal that was run by two beautiful women I adore. I gained how to adjust my reading for different genres. Because we have them scattered together, when moving from one genre to the next, you had to sort of reset yourself. I think that was beneficial though. Too many times have I read poem after poem and got into a zone where I wasn’t really delving that deep into the content. I think moving us around in the genres helps us see beyond just the words.
Richard: Helping out my friends and reading literature from emerging writers.  It is always interesting to me to see how other people write: it gives insight into their personality, their thoughts, and what is in their heart.

 

If you could spend the day with one author/poet, who would it be and what would you do?

Danielle: This is a tough question! I’m not sure if I can pick just one… At this moment I would like to say George R.R. Martin. I have been consumed by A Song of Ice and Fire. I would be happy with just picking his brain to find out what he has planned for the next two books, because I’m not nearly patient enough to wait it out. But, I have to pick J.K. Rowling. I’ve grown up with the Harry Potter series and those books are what shaped my love for reading and writing. She’s brilliant and seems like a genuinely nice person. We’d take a train ride, because that’s where her ideas were born, and she would give me insight to writing. I’d learn all the details of what it took to create an entire world through words. If only!
Ioanna: This is an extremely difficult question. Right now, my answer is Alice Munro, because I’ve just recently discovered her short stories and have been devouring them one after the other. I’m ordinarily a very slow reader, but I finished an entire book of her stories in three days last week. Her work is poignant, gracious, inviting, completely unpretentious and warm. She’s got these one-liners that knock me over mentally, and I love that feeling, of hobbling up bewildered, seeing stars. What would we do? We’d take a walk together. A nice long walk, through a garden with periwinkle flowers.
Cisco: Mark Twain. We’d probably drink whiskey and play pool. But if I could talk him into doing some karaoke, I think that’d be alright too.
Allie: Nicole Blackman. We would steal a ’67 Impala, smoke lots of cigarettes, listen to industrial music, and I would get her to read me everything from every poem in Blood Sugar to….well, the phone book. I could listen to her speak all damn day. Please don’t think I’m creepy, even though I totally am. 
Kate: I’d love to go back in time and hop on Ken Kesey’s trippy schoolbus as it rode cross-country. Sure, there are authors that I like just as much, or even more, than Kesey, but most of them killed themselves, so I doubt a day with them would be much fun. Now, a schoolbus full of acid and wild writers? That’s the party I’d like to see. 

 

If you could invite five characters over for dinner, who would it be and what would you serve?

Mark-Anthony: Well, I would have to invite the Mad Hatter, Bilbo Baggins, Ebenezer Scrooge (post-Christmas Carol), Sam-I-Am, and Madam Rosemerta, and the dinner would be pot-luck of course. Just imagine butterbeer, a cooked goose, green eggs and ham, and whatever wild conversation the Mad Hatter and Sam-I-Am would get into.
Kate: Jo March, Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, Janie Crawford, and Hermione Granger. We’d go into the woods and hunt our own deer, then prepare it and roast it ourselves, in order to really connect with nature and our womanness.

Just kidding. I’d probably introduce them all to pizza. 

Cisco: Old Major, Napoleon, Snowball, Squealer, and Minimus. Them.
Danielle: As if I would ever narrow it down to just five. The more the merrier! This should be an interesting dinner. Tyrion Lannister, Sirius Black, Peeta Mellark, Jay Gatsby, Elizabeth Bennett. This took me longer to answer than I expected. I’ll probably think of a ton of others by the time this is even posted and want to change my response. Can’t we turn it into a party? I’m not sure if they’d want me to cook though… How’s takeout sound? Pizza? Fantastic.

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