Tinderbox Poetry Journal was original founded six years ago and publishes online quarterly issues of poetry, book reviews, and interviews with poets. They recently launched a new special feature to accompany their quarterly issues entitled Gamma Knife. This themed feature is focused on “work living within the space of the health and the industry that allows access to care or precludes care.” Read more about Gamma Knife in the interview below. To get a feel for what types of poetry they publish, you can read past issues online, including my poem "Resurrection Party" and the review of my chapbook Footnote by Eileen Murphy.
I was curious how and why this poetry journal began and what they’re looking for in submissions, so I asked Editor-in-Chief Hannah Dow a few questions to find out. See my interview with Dow and a link to submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about Tinderbox.
DOW: Tinderbox Poetry Journal is an online literary magazine published quarterly that uplifts the well-written and the well-lived. A sister of publisher Tinderbox Editions, we’ve been showcasing work from poetry’s brightest voices for six years. Aside from publishing our quarterly issues, we also sponsor an annual contest, with past winners including Fatima Seck and Threa Almontaser. Tinderbox has been home to poets like Amy Gerstler, Emily Yoon, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Cortney Lamar Charleston, Erika Meitner, Tiana Clark, Maggie Smith, Aria Aber, Diannely Antigua, Rosebud Ben-Oni, torrin a. greathouse, Emilia Phillips, and many more.
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
DOW: Because we publish work from poets with intersecting identities, both domestic and international, Tinderbox has a wide audience. We aim to provide a brave space that represents how diverse we know the writing community to be, and it follows that our audience would be just as expansive. Given the breadth of experiences published within our pages, our mission is to tell as many stories as possible so as to continue reaching a global audience.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
DOW: Tinderbox looks to publish a breadth of poetic voices, styles, and forms. When we read submissions, we seek poems that give us a little shiver, poems that catch the light and compel us to look closer. We review submissions generously and equally, but with a specific eye to showcasing work from marginalized communities.
We also just launched a new special feature called Gamma Knife, which, broadly speaking, seeks work living within the space of health and the industry which allows access to care or precludes care. Gamma Knife seeks to publish work that both engages a health-related condition & recapitulates how designed power structures affect that condition. Given the timeliness, it should be said that Gamma Knife was conceived of before the appearance of COVID-19 and the global pandemic. We are not at all expecting or looking to publish pieces explicitly about COVID-19, although we are open to them.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
DOW: We publish a lot of serious poems, but I also love writing that has a sense of humor. It can be difficult to find poems that successfully balance gravity and lightness, but it’s always a joy to encounter it.
HOPKINSON: What is your favorite part of being on staff with Tinderbox?
DOW: When I first joined Tinderbox in 2018, I realized its mission was unique. Not only does the journal do the important work of amplifying the voices of historically underrepresented writers, but it is also dedicated to compensating its contributors and staff for their craft and work. I'm proud to say that we offer fee-free submissions year-round, pay our contributing poets $15, and (since the beginning of 2020) offer our volunteer readers and editors a small stipend for their time. This is a rare, but feasible model: one that existed before my involvement with the journal, but which we plan to maintain in the years to come.
HOPKINSON: Where can folks send submissions?
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
DOW: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEADLINE: May 20, 2020
NOTES: Their contest reading period will be open from July 1st-August 31st, and they will open for regular submissions again between October 1st -November 15th.
FORMAT: digitally online
SUBMISSION FEE: None for regular submissions
SUBMISSION METHOD: Submittable
DUOTROPE: https://duotrope.com/listing/14239/tinderbox-poetry-journal, including the Duotrope editor interview