Bob Booker and Patrick Cahill chat with great weather for MEDIA editor, Jane Ormerod
Jane: I really enjoy reading Ambush Review. Can you tell me a little more about it? Why did the two of you decide to start up a literary journal?
We thought there was a need for a different kind of review, a review with more emphasis on the experimental and the innovative. For example, in issue #2 we quote Carole Maso from her novel, Ava, which addresses this: “…so that form takes as many risks as the content…” We also seek out and want to represent emerging and underrepresented writers and artists. At the same time, we publish established writers, as well as critical reviews, essays, interviews, translations, art and photography. In issue #4, we are planning a special feature on the graphic novel and the comic arts. Our goal: to feature exciting, new creative work for the 21st century.
You are based in San Francisco. How important is location to the feel and scope of Ambush Review?
It is very important for us to reflect what is happening in our local community. Although we are San Francisco & Bay Area based, we are reaching out, expanding beyond borders, and into the digital world. We believe the feel and scope of Ambush Review should reflect the diversity of voices here and from around the world. It is our challenge as editors to reflect a happy balance between the local and international experimental work we find.
Who is your audience? How important are readings for reaching a wider readership?
For now, poets and local writers are the core audience, but we are expanding all the time. Ambush Review readings are very important for increasing and diversifying our audience. We are planning additional readings this fall with the publication of issue #3. Readings in bookstores, galleries and cafes around the Bay Area are an integral part of our vision—we want to grow a community not only of writers, poets and artists but of their audience as well.
What are you looking for in submissions? Do you have any practical advice for writers? What mistakes or irritations do you commonly find in submissions?
We are always looking for something that surprises us, new work that takes risks in language, style and form. New work that “ambushes” us, and this can happen in various ways, through form, rhythm, content, the tone of a piece—or some combination of these, and we encourage the experimental. We want writers to use their imagination to envision new ways of seeing the world—to re-view and reconstruct the world. Our best practical advice is to read broadly—to read poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and to be aware of what is happening in theater, music, and the visual arts. Irritations? People who submit blindly without checking out the review to see if their work is a good fit. Also, those who ignore our online submission instructions and don’t present their work in a professional way.
What have you learnt since your first issue and how do you see Ambush evolving?
Publishing a review like Ambush is a big responsibility. Writers and artists are entrusting us with their work, and audiences are giving us their valuable time. We want them to feel rewarded in some way.
What other journals or small presses do you admire?
To name just a few: Otoliths, an online publication with a wonderful diversity of the visual and the written; lyric&, formerly a print journal and now online only; Poetry Flash: Literary Review & Calendar for the West; Etherdome, a publisher of women’s chapbooks; Amerarcana, edited by Nicholas Whittington of Bird & Beckett, SF; Volt, a terrific local publication; the new great weather for MEDIA, of course; and Zen Monster, another monster out of New York City.
Thank you, Bob and Patrick. Congratulations on a wonderful journal!
To discover more about Ambush Review, visit http://ambushreview.com/who