Friday, January 20, 2017

Six Questions for A. Molotkov, Co-Editor, The Inflectionist Review

Inflectionist Review has a strong preference for non-linear work that carefully constructs ambiguity so that the reader can play an active role in the poem. In general, we commend the experimental, the worldly and universal, and eschew the inane, trendy, and overly personal. Work that reveals multiple layers with further readings. Though the editors have a special interest in shorter poems, we are open to longer works that adhere to our general philosophy. Multi-sectioned or thematically-linked poems are also accepted.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

A Molotkov: My co-editor John Sibley Williams and I felt that one’s role in the literary world need not be limited to writing. Much is to be said for supporting others and building connections. Many writers serve as editors, which helps foster an understanding between the two roles.

As a reader, I see much editorial consistency in some journals and almost none in others. John and I were motivated to support a particular aesthetic that we find vital and important, rather than trying to support the broader crowd of poets writing in English. In some way, it’s a magazine for poets who follow recipes that we believe in (as well as for poems that simply blow us over, no matter the recipe). provides more detail about our aesthetic – and the five issues we’ve published so far.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

AM: A spark – something unpredictable that breaks me, puzzles me, enlightens me. Emotion. Relevance to others.

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

AM: Typos or grammar errors, macho maleness, religious fervor, self-involvement, or a complete lack of understanding of contemporary poetry. John and I are generally not into names – place names, name names, mythological or historical names. (I’m curious, by the way, if his answers will be completely different from mine.) Our preference is for poems that stand on their own, unsupported by external references. Tasteful exceptions can be, of course, quite wonderful. Poems about writing poetry need an extra-special twist to sound fresh.

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

AM: We will do so occasionally if the poem almost makes it, or if the submitter is someone we know well. I don't think it’s productive to comment on all rejections, as so much of it comes down to taste. No one needs a lecture from a poet who writes in a style different from one’s own. 

SQF: Who are some of your favorite poets?

AM: Among the classics, Mikhail Lermontov, Evgeni Esenin and several other poets I admired in my youth back in Russia – also Paul Éluard, Paul Celan, W.S. Merwin, Mark Strand, William Stafford, Rumi. Among the contemporaries: Annie Lighthart, Beth Bachmann, Laura Kasischke, Ocean Vuong, Carl Adamshick, Sara Eliza Johnson, Nick Flynn and many, many more. I’m ashamed that I’m leaving out many I admire just as much. And of course, my co-editor, John Sibley Williams.

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

AM: First of all, Jim, thank you so much for this refreshing opportunity to think about editing a journal from these new angles. And thank you, reader, for sticking with us.

Perhaps the last question should be: how to deal with rejections? What does a rejection mean? Some friends confess that they give up after five or ten, while to me it’s normal procedure to keep sending the same story or poem to 150 journals. A checklist one might consider when rejections pile up:

1. Have you read 100 (poetry) books in the last 5 years, most of them contemporary?
2. Have you written consistently for at least 3-5 years?
3. Do you have a critique group?

If the answer to all of the above is Yes, then keep reading and writing and sending your work and revising and ignoring rejections. Many editors are picky, including these two. Still, we mean everyone well and appreciate the effort of all poets, even those who don't make it into Inflectionist Review. Creative connections are randomly made. Literary value is more subjective than many folks seem to expect. One fosters and projects one’s literary voice in a busy world bursting with language.

Thank you, AM. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

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