Self-taught MFA

Editors speak to rejections – The Literary Whip, NEW! Podcast produced by Zoetic Press

The Literary Whip is a new podcast where editors of literary magazines speak to rejections–specifically, pieces that almost, but not quite, made the grade. They’ll also share where pieces worked, but more importantly, where they went wrong.

I wondered how and why this podcast came to be, so I asked producer and host, Lise Quintana a few questions to find out. See my interview with Quintana below, listen to their first episode, and read the poem up for discussion:

“The Poet as Fool” by Sally Zakariya

Lise Quintana and Selena Chambers explore “The Poet as Fool” by Sally Zakariyas, submitted for NonBinary Review Issue #12, Edgar Allan Poe.


HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about The Literary Whip podcast.

QUINTANA: We take pieces that were rejected by literary journals and talk to the editors about why they were rejected. These pieces were good, but ultimately didn’t make the final cut, and we explore what worked and what didn’t. We look at all aspects of a submission – the story, the use of language, grammar, punctuation, adherence to guidelines, the cover letter, etc. ​

​The title came from Truman Capote, who said “​Writing stopped being fun when I discovered the difference between good writing and bad and, even more terrifying, the difference between it and true art. And after that, the whip came down.” We hope to illuminate the difference between good writing and art.

HOPKINSON: How/why was The Literary Whip originally started?

QUINTANA: ​The Zoetic Press editors have wanted to do a podcast for quite a while, but I wanted to do something new. There are lots of literary podcasts where someone reads stories, or interviews authors, or reviews books and journals. As a press, we get requests for feedback from people whose work we’ve rejected, and it’s just not possible to give each rejected piece personal feedback. We thought if we could expose our process it would be helpful not just to the author of that piece, but to anyone who wants to know what not to do. When I first floated the idea to my friends, I was nervous that people would say “Why would anyone ever want to do that?” But I was pleasantly surprised at how many people were excited to have their work discussed in public. And it’s important to me that our discussion is respectful and professional, because we want people to be excited about participating.

HOPKINSON: Can listeners participate?

QUINTANA: We are actively soliciting lit mag editors to come up with pieces from their own journals that they’d like to talk about. Any author who’s been rejected by a literary journal and would like to be featured should reach out to the editor of that journal, who can then contact us. We pay the author a flat fee of $20, and their piece is posted on the website so that listeners can follow along. ​

HOPKINSON: Will you be featuring specific lit mags/journals?

QUINTANA: ​Right now, we’re reaching out to our network of lit mag editors. We’re happy to feature work submitted to any journal. And if, say, The New Yorker would like to get in touch, I wouldn’t say no. ​

HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you? 

QUINTANA: ​Check out our website (www.theliterarywhip.com), and then you can email us: podcast@zoeticpress.com, or they can drop us a line via our Facebook page: ​https://www.facebook.com/theliterarywhip/


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