Book of Matches is the new online literary journal “interested in protest against the unknowing alive in human existence, in protest against the knowing, too.” They are currently open to submissions of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translations for their inaugural issue. They plan to nominate for Best of the Net, and Pushcart, and to transition to including a print journal in the summer of 2021. For more information, see my interview with editors Kelli Allen and Nicholas Christian with a link to submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: How/why was Book of Matches originally started?
ALLEN/CHRISTIAN: About four years ago now we spent mornings off drinking coffee and reading translations of the old masters aloud to one another. Poems by Rumi, Mirabai, Kabir, and Hafez. Poems by younger masters such as Juan Ramón Jiménez, Lorca, Antonio Machado, Cesar Vallejo, Rilke, Robert Bly, Stafford, James Wright, and so many others. What we noticed most after our coffee had run cold was that the universal content, the great human message flirting with capital-T Truth that pervaded these poet’s work was largely missing in the contemporary American poetry we’ve read in the past 10-15 years. Something had shifted in what American poetry felt capable of communicating. American poetry seems to have given itself a narrow focus that is too honed-in on politics of the moment and flash-in-the-pan chaos culture. We became worried by how self-insulating and how isolated and isolating this brand of poetry appeared to us.
So one morning we blurted out: “If this is such a problem why don’t we stop complaining about it and start doing something about it? Let’s start a literary journal!” We mean this to be a journal aimed at trying to recapture what—at least to us—seems to have been lost in American poetry. Then we also decided to move about six thousand miles away, and the journal was lost in the tumultuous sea of life. We’ve since moved back to more familiar lands and decided to finally light the torch.
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
ALLEN/CHRISTIAN: Anyone who is alive in the world.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
ALLEN/CHRISTIAN: In an age dominated by our worst tendencies for tribalism, it is more important than ever to celebrate the best in humanity through the very real magic of words. Book of Matches is always interested in protest—interested in protest against the unknowing alive in human existence, in protest against the knowing, too. In essence, Book of Matches both celebrates what burns against the dark, and the assurance of how little it illuminates before going out. Send us your most meaningful lies, your real lives, and the poetry of both that we may see a bit more clearly the stormy seas around us all.
HOPKINSON: Where can we send submissions?
ALLEN/CHRISTIAN: We currently accept submissions here: email@example.com (Please read our submission guidelines carefully and format your work/email accordingly).
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Dec. 10, 2020 for the inaugural issue (open year-round)
FORMAT: online (print forthcoming in summer 2021)
SUBMISSION FEE: None
FORMS: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translations
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