Underblong is an intriguing online poetry journal founded by poets Chen Chen and Sam Herschel Wein. Their 3rd issue just went live and is bursting with incredible poetry! Make sure not to miss the audio recordings of the poets reading their poems. There’s just nothing better than hearing the poems in the voice of the poet & I love the simplicity & ease of the journal’s format, the ability to click from one poem to the next. The editor’s note describes this issue well, “And what a gorgeous issue to return with! What a queer issue. Full of kisses and Ikea, pugs and vampires. Also, dismantlings of the heteronormative. Also, dreams of a more livable future and now. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the sheer blonginess, at how well people understand the tones and textures of this space. There are lines in this issue’s poems that feel like better descriptions/definitions of Underblong than anything we’ve come up with. ”
I wondered how and why this literary magazine came to be, so I asked them a few questions to find out. See my interview with Chen and Wein and a link to their submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about Underblong.
CHEN/WEIN: Underblong :: noun / verb / adjective / gaseous state / planetary magique / squishy soul-matter / nefarious sound. The sound of underblong is the sound of honey stirred into a hot beverage, the sound of a tortoise greeting you, the sound of something maybe sort of erotic sometimes, the sound of friends eating omelets while it is snowing outside and raining inside.
Underblong :: A portmanteau of “undertow” and “oblong,” nicknames the editors have given each other based on a long collaborative poem they may someday continue or turn into a multimedia art installation.
Let us underblong to Merriam-Webster for further underblonging.
1. the current beneath the surface that sets seaward or along the beach when waves are breaking upon the shore
2. an underlying current, force, or tendency that is in opposition to what is apparent
deviating from a square, circular, or spherical form by elongation in one dimension
Thus :: underblong is that which deviates in shape and travels beneath what is usually visible.
Thus :: underblong is a love for language doing bendy, twisty, knotty, naughty things.
Thus :: underblong is a poetry journal.
HOPKINSON: How/why was Underblong originally started?
CHEN/WEIN: We started Underblong, how else? On a late night phone conversation, reading poem after poem back and forth, picking apart what we loved in each of them. We read Sarah Gambito’s, “Toro,” and laughed deep, joyous laughs. We cried as we read from Aracelis Girmay’s the black maria and held our phones close, like spoons. We flew to each other and read Mary Reufle’s comic Go Home and Go to Bed. We took turns reading lines from Jericho Brown’s poem, “Heart Condition,” and when we returned to our respective cities, we got on the phone late night again, reading from Jennifer S. Cheng’s new book, House A. We thought, let’s build our literary space in this world, together. We thought, let’s design it first, and the poems will come. We spoke, aloud, through an electronic connection, “Underblong.”
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
CHEN/WEIN: You’re stuck in the mud, icicles a shroud around your eyes. You aren’t sure where the apples are, but you think of their red for the whole day, brimming your eyelashes. Underblong is a journal of the not-quite-so, of unfinished thoughts, of unresolved anger, of unforgotten macaroni art. Underblong is the coatroom of your secret’s secrets, a boiling pot of kit-kats becoming your favorite soup. Send us a poem that cuts through the crap. Send us your dinner chicken. Poems made by a soul. You can also read our third issue & check out our list of things we like.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
CHEN/WEIN: Gosh, there are so many. We adore the Boston Review, The Margins (the online magazine of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop), Birdfeast, The Adroit Journal, Apogee, New Delta Review, Dusie, NightBlock, Hyphen, Lantern Review, and Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color. We also have been loving new journals we’ve seen popping up, like the Shade Journal, Pnk Prl (an online zine that focuses on blackout/erasure poetry by queer writers), The Shallow Ends, Wusgood.black, and many others!
HOPKINSON: Where can folks send submissions?
CHEN/WEIN: We have a lovely designed send link on our website: http://underblong.com/sendplz. This link describes, in creative terms, what we are looking for, and how many poems to send. Get on it, magical unicorn writers!
CHEN/WEIN: We are currently big fans of this new age art of emailing, so you can always email us at underblong at gmail dot com. Additionally, you can find us on twitter at @underblong, and we are on Facebook as well, at facebook.com/underblong. So many ways to find us! We hope you don’t get lost!
DEADLINE: September 30, 2019
SUBMISSION FEE: None