Welcome to our new Literary Mama blog series: Craft Talks. In this bi-monthly post, we’ll have a mini-interview with our own editors about craft, what they look for in submissions, and all things writing.
Today, I talked to Allison Blevins, Poetry Editor. She told me about James Galvin, the beauty of metaphors, and the importance of intentional choices.
1. Tell us about yourself and your position at Literary Mama.
I have an MA from Pittsburg State University and an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. I published three chapbooks last year: Susurration (Blue Lyra Press, 2019), Letters to Joan (Lithic Press, 2019), and A Season for Speaking (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019), part of the Robin Becker series. I’m the Director of Small Harbor Publishing. We publish the online magazine Harbor Review and run the imprint Harbor Editions. I live in Missouri with my wife and three children where I co-organize the Downtown Poetry reading series. And I am currently the poetry editor at Literary Mama!
2. Is there a passage, sentence, or line of a poem that you absolutely adore? Why is it so good?
The last line of James Galvin’s poem “Cherry Blossoms Blowing in Wet, Blowing Snow” is my favorite line from a poem. The poem reads like a list and uses an effective refrain. The listing is both mundane and unexpected. The poem ends with this line:
Among cherry blossoms blowing in wet, blowing snow, weren’t we something?
The line works so well because the poem builds anticipation. We wait and wait for the turn that only comes at the end. Somewhere on the internet there is a recording of Galvin reading the poem. It is worth searching for just to hear him build to this ending. The line is a resolution, a proclamation, and a bittersweet sentiment that has lingered in my mind forever. This is a poem I think with in my own writing.
3. What do you look for in submissions? What type of writing grabs your attention?
I look for surprise in a submission. A sharp and unexpected turn will always grab my attention. I look for fresh language and unusual metaphors. I want to read a poem I’ve never read before! I’m interested in poems that rely on image more than exposition. I want poems that make interesting and intentional choices about line. I’m more interested in free verse and less interested in form or meter. I’m not typically drawn to rhyme. I expect submissions to be ready to publish without editing (though I understand an occasional typo happens!).
The Poetry department is looking for unpublished poems extraordinary in vision, craft, integrity, and originality. Poems of any length and form are welcome. Maximum of two poems per submission, please. If more than two poems are submitted, only the first two poems will be read. See our full submissions guidelines for more information and check out this blog post for tips on what we look for.
Read something you liked? Let us know in the comments!