Simple Machines is a new letterpress poetry journal. From their The What page “Language as a lever, a wedge, or a screw, an elemental human instrument of magic modifying motion and force to perform the most difficult of labors, love—itself a Simple Machine.” They are currently seeking poetry submissions for their first issue. For more information, see my interview with Founder and Editor M. Bartley Seigel and a link to submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: How/why was Simple Machines originally started?
SEIGEL: I founded PANK Magazine in 2006 and ran that with Roxane Gay until 2015. Following our sale of that property, I took five years off from litmags, but I have grown to miss it. That said, I didn’t want to repeat something as expansive as what Roxane and I had done with PANK. As a poet myself, sticking tight to that genre felt like a right first move. As I’m a professor at a technological university, the extended metaphor of simple machines felt like a good second move. The little aesthetic nutgraf on the site sums it up pretty well, I think. We’ll probably do two issues a year, each around a loose theme, each guest curated by a fellow poet, each packaged in some type of letterpress format yet to be determined. It’ll be a little labor of love, for both poetry and literary magazines. We’ll keep it simple, as it were. Gods willing and the creek don’t rise, our first issue will come out in the spring. I think that answers the how/why, too, but feel free to follow up.
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
SEIGEL: I don’t know as I have a very specific audience in mind. We’ve good, up tempo taste, if I do say so myself, and our production will be nifty, so poetry lovers will find us, I’ve no doubt.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
SEIGEL: Each issue will have a guest editor and a loose theme, so what we look for will vary from issue to issue. For issue 1, Engines of Change, we’re looking for work that speaks to surviving 2020 and its various upheavals. Always, we’ll be looking for poetry that surprises us. I’m personally always drawn to the idiosyncratic, but our guest editors will be bringing their strong voices and aesthetics eyes to the job of reading.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
SEIGEL: We are brand new, so this remains to be seen. When I was running PANK, I always liked to see work that came out of a strongly realized project separate from the magazine. I never liked work that felt to me like it was trying to game the magazine or the editors. I wanted work that was just so strong it had to exist regardless of what I thought I wanted or what I thought the magazine needed. “I must publish this thing” was always the reaction I was always searching for.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
SEIGEL: How long you got? Poetry, of course. PANK, upon a time. Barrelhouse, Hobart, DIAGRAM, and Thrush have always been among favorites. There are just so many good ones, like just hundreds and hundreds. To be honest, I’m just always so pleased whenever I encounter poetry anywhere, and litmags, too, for that matter. I kind of love them all for one reason or another, often times just because they insist on existing against the odds. I’m not so fond of magazines that exploit writers (predatory submission fees, etc.), and I’m pretty put off by social clambering of any kind, but I’ll leave it to you to decide who those folks are.
HOPKINSON: What is your favorite part of being on staff with Simple Machines?
SEIGEL: Again, it’s a brand new project, so I don’t know yet. Some days I feel like, “yes, I’m so lucky to be doing this again.” Other days, it’s more like “WTF, why am I doing this to myself again?” But what I’ve always loved about editing and publishing is bringing other voices to the page, especially writers who are just getting started or voices that are historically absent from the conversation—that is the most special thing to me.
HOPKINSON: Where can we send submissions?
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
SEIGEL: They can email me at email@example.com
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: January 31, 2021
SUBMISSION FEE: None
FORMAT: letterpress print
ISSUE FREQUENCY: Bi-annually
SUBMISSION METHOD: Submittable
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