On April 15, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) launched the latest issue of Eye to the Telescope, their online journal. I was lucky enough to get to guest edit and I wanted to share what it was like seeing from behind the telescope.
I have so many thoughts about this but I'll try to be brief. Editing a journal is a lot of hard work. I think as writers, it's often mysterious to us what an editor does behind the scenes. For this issue, over 170 writers sent in their poems, meaning there were about triple that number poems to read. I had about two weeks to decide. Here's how I approached it, although I'm sure every editor has a different process:
The poem that ended up shaping this selection was Jess Capelle's erasure of Doctor Who: Nothing O’Clock by Neil Gaiman. I knew I wanted to showcase a variety of styles, forms, and content, while still featuring new writers along with more familiar names. Once I knew I wanted Jess' poem, I was able to look at structure. I fell in love with the weird and uncanny work of Gustav Sack (1885–1916), who is translated from the German by Peter J. King. I must give thanks to Peter for sending me more translations of his work to read. LeRoy Gorman's "Tree Rings" (A very short poem) immediately resonated with me because I have a short story I'm shopping around right now about this very same concept. I had to choose between TWO poems about cats and time and I feel honored to publish the incomparable Mary Soon Lee. She is so kind and someone that young writers can learn a lot from--just look at the sheer number of works she publishes each year if you don't believe me. I adored the simplicity and yet truly fantastic science-inspired concept of Brittany Hause's short poem, "The Philologist." Brandon O' Brien was kind enough to work with me on formatting his fantastic piece "Hunting with Zeno's Arrows" for online.
I'm more than a little thrilled to welcome several new (or new to SFPA) poets to this issue. Eloísa Perez-Lozano's "The Windshield Washer" prose poem is her first-ever speculative publication. Jess Capelle's erasure is her first-ever poetry publication (Simply wowed by that) and Jules Crewe-Kluge is an eighteen (!) year-old writer with a beautiful sense for form--they are certainly a poet to watch.
Perhaps the most difficult part of editing this issue was the sheer number of friends and acquaintances I ended up having to reject. ETTT has a limited budget and thus I was only able to take a few poems. But I feel really grateful to every writer who sent me their work, and I read each poem carefully. I know how much heart it takes to send your work out. Thank you for trusting me with it.
My main goal in selecting pieces was variety and also examining how the works spoke to each other. I have tried to take care in the order of the poems, so I hope you'll read them and enjoy. Also, make sure to read my editor's note.
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Holly Lyn Walrath is a freelance editor and author of poetry, flash fiction, and short fiction. Find her on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath
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