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Our Ever Growing Tinderbox Family (On Humming): A Letter from an Editor

Well, first things first: a big welcome to all of the new people who have joined the Tinderbox family! Since our last issue, we’ve added a team of eight readers, and our very first reader, Jenn Givhan, moved up from being our sole reader to being assistant editor! We’ll take some time to get to know her in our next issue, where I have big hopes Brett will also be able to rejoin us as well!
We’ve been so busy this summer, reading regular submissions, enjoying watching the contest submissions come in, flying in as the days wind down. We’ve been slowly working our way through the entries, finding new and amazing voices at each turn.
The experience of reading the slush has really changed. Our first year, it was me and Brett, bandying back and forth these gorgeous pieces we’d consider in making up the whole of each issue. Now the community is bigger, which means some juggling of the queue for me. I find myself starting my day by logging into the Tinderbox Poetry Journal account and assigning submissions to our readers, which, by the way, include some amazingly talented people, including Jessamyn Smyth, who launched Tupelo Quarterly and Joelle Biele, who edited Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker: The Complete Correspondence. Not to mention the sheer writerly talent in our crew of readers (and my fellow editors!) in and of itself.
I definitely find myself getting lost in the slush quite often, and I think the biggest gift is when we get the chance to read something so surprising and wonderful and then the privilege of sharing it with a wider reading audience. We’ve gotten so many beautiful poems lately that, as I worked on this latest issue, I found myself re-reading poems from six months ago and sighing at their beauty all over again. (And sometimes the pleasure is less pastoral and more of a violent string of swears, words I need to keep humming within as my small children are within earshot, but something like Hot [explitive!] these poems are [explitiving] amazzzzing!) Who gets to do that at a regular clip?
That said, I should probably mention we’re doing something we haven’t done in TPJ history before and that is moving to donation-only submissions for a little over a month as we take some time to work through the contest submissions. Because of advertising for the contest, our journal has gotten some attention from an even larger submitting audience, which is fantastic, but it also means we need to find ways to accommodate that. We will reopen to fee-free (donation optional!) submissions starting October 1.
I know transparency has always been important to us at the journal, so I want to just say that the money we raise from the contest, after the paying of our judge and the awards (hooray! I’m excited about this part!), will go towards the mundane, like our Submittable account, the web fees we have, and also something really exciting and new to us and that’s a presence at AWP! We will have a table this year (#406! come say hello!), which we will share with our sister press Tinderbox Editions, and the press will have two books to promote! Last year, we didn’t have the opportunity to settle into one spot, but this gives us the opportunity to meet some of our submitters, our contributors, and our readers. I have a lot of hugging to do!
There are other wonderful things cooking in the Tinderbox family: our next issue should have some more formal reviews and possibly a team of review / critical work editors, we’ll have announced the winners of our contest (and the December issue will be dedicated to celebrating those gorgeous poems that came through during that time), and I might be distracted enough to talk about the process of moving a book from manuscript form to galleys. I’ve been on the other side of it, but we’ve got some poets brave enough to let me edit their books, and I get all zing-y when I think about holding these books in my hands. What a wonderful way to extend and enlarge our literary presence.
Speaking of the press, and this is the last thing I’ll say and then I’ll hush: at the press, we’re currently reading for a lyric essay anthology and we’re in an open reading period for prose and prose-like manuscripts. This is our first open reading period, and in the winter, we’ll have an open reading period for poetry manuscripts. You can keep an eye on all of that here:


Thanks all! Happy reading!

Molly Sutton Kiefer is one of the editors for Tinderbox Poetry Journal and she's also the publisher of the sister-press Tinderbox Editions. She is the author of the full-length lyric essay Nestuary (Ricochet Editions 2014) as well as three poetry chapbooks, including Thimbleweed, which will come out in 2016 from dancing girl press. You can find out more about her at www.mollysuttonkiefer.com