Can anyone who loves the fantastic and poetry not have read Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky? Here we talk with the editor of a fantastic magazine inspired by it!
For those readers who might not have previously discovered Jabberwocky, can you tell us a little about it? What makes your publication unique?
Jabberwocky's creation was inspired by Lewis Carroll's poem of the same name, found in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. We mean to present language at its most intriguing, as a non-sensical, lyrical collection of words that tell frabjous stories in poetic form.
How did you become a poetry editor?
Random chance? In 2005 a couple of friends and I started an online micro-zine publishing poems inspired and informed by fairy tales. I was offered the position as co-editor of Jabberwocky because my tastes matched those of Sean Wallace's, its original creator. He was short of time and asked me if I'd care to come on board. Of course I said yes!
What's your background? How has that affected your decisions, with regard to individual poems or types? Are you more critical of some genres, subgenres, or tropes than others? If so, why?
I don't really have a definable background. I've held a diverse array of jobs over the course of my lifetime, from working with horses to managing mortgages at a now defunct financial institution. In 2005 I became self-employed as an artist and bookbinder - something I now realize I should have been doing all along. I have also been an avid reader for most of my life and it is this, I think, that influences my decisions the most. I know what I like, I know what the collection demands. Beyond that, my choices are mostly intuitive.
What good is a fantasy?
A fantasy allows us to see ourselves mirrored in a safe, unreal space. It also allows us to explore possibilities, to ask "what if" and to be answered.
What scares you?
I am an immigrant, from the US to the UK. As such, my life is somewhat dictated by the rules and regulations of the UK Border Agency. What scares me is that I live at the whim of sudden and often incomprehensible rule changes, and that shortly I have to take a test to prove my knowledge of life in the UK. I don't like tests.
Where is the "science" in science fiction? How could SF help us to prepare for the future?
It is not SF's job to help prepare us for the future, although in many cases, it serves to warn us against it. I don't know where the science is in science fiction. I am not a scientist. If it's in there, I won't recognize it anyway.
Who are some of your favorite poets, and why?
Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, because I know exactly what they are talking about. Sherman Alexie because he knows exactly what he is talking about. All three explore certain themes that have recurred in my own life. If poetry can heal, theirs has done it.
What makes a poem poetic?
How do you feel about rhyme?
If it's done well, I love it. Too often it is not done well.
What are some of your favorite poetic forms? What catches your eye when you read a submission?
How the poet uses language is the first thing that grabs me. The second thing is the topic of the poem. No matter how gorgeously the words are stung together, nor how interesting are those words newly created, the poem will not pass if the topic is too banal.
Which would you rather see in your slush: a SpecFic narrative that's easy to follow, or imagery/lyricism that blows your mind? How compatible are these two elements?
These two elements are extremely compatible. For Jabberwocky we look first for the lyricism, but to have that without a narrative is like having icing without the cake. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but for us it's just too sweet. Narrative is the meat, the thing that keeps one going, it is what causes one to want to get to the end. In Jabberwocky there is a strong focus on lyricism, but the narrative must be there.
What do you find that submitters most often get wrong with their submissions? Is there anything outside of the obvious of the submitter not following your guidelines that recurs in the slush?
A great many of the people who submit to Jabberwocky seem to be under the impression that we are strictly a literary publication. If there is no element of the fantastic or the mythic in the submission, it is an instant rejection. We do not want a straight retelling of your day at the grocery store, or the hospital, or of how you lost your keys.
With accepting electronic submissions you doubtlessly receive submissions worldwide - have you noticed any tone/style/theme variations in these? Are there noticeable regional flavors in such, or do you feel that poetry is an universal language?
We do receive submissions from all over the world, but I never concern myself with anything except the poem until it's been accepted. The one region that does stand out in the submissions is the American midwest. These poems are usually quite gritty, and tend to draw heavily on the landscape and surprisingly, the vehicles used in that landscape.
What advice would you give to those submitting to your mag?
Read Lewis Carrol's poem, but do not try to imitate it. Also, read previous issues of Jabberwocky. This is truly the best way to get a sense of what we are looking for.
Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of?
More myth and far fewer poetic renditions of what it's like to lose your keys. More myth and fewer personal revelations about how taking out the trash affected you. Unless, of course, you meet Orpheus by the bins.