Interview With SpringGun Press

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Authors: Erin Costello and Mark Rockswold

What makes SpringGun Press a unique part of the publishing community?

We originally started the journal as a bridge between the electronic literature and print communities. Since so few people are working in the digital/electronic field it’s been difficult to keep it as a central focus but we’re still very pleased with the role it plays in our journal. Ultimately, we’re planning on continuing to publish and curate it as long as we can.

We like to foster a team atmosphere at SpringGun and believe that publishing at its best should be a collaboration between author and editor (especially when it comes to chapbooks and full-lengths). We’re also dedicated to keeping our entire catalog in print.

What sort of qualities do you look for in a manuscript or piece of work that you are considering for publication?

One of the first things that we would say is surprise us. We also think that a poem or book should be sure of its own existence and purpose. Why write or make art? Why make a particular type of art in a particular style or aesthetic? To us, art should be something new and important that’s in dialogue with previous artistic traditions. Something is surprising because of that “newness.”

Do you have a specific aesthetic preference? How would you describe that aesthetic?

We get asked this a lot and it’s never an easy question to answer. Overall we’re quite eclectic. We publish “traditional” and “non-traditional” books like Joe Hall and Chad Hardy’s The Container Store, but even non-traditional work needs to demonstrate some understanding of contemporary and historical poetry movements. In other words, we are not interested in work by writers who don’t read. When it comes to poetry, we are not interested in stories with arbitrary line breaks; we’re looking for deliberate and effective use of the line.

We think that we would characterize our website and design aesthetic in general as minimal. When we started this we were interested in how to use the internet to make a quality journal that was worth reading, but we also didn’t want to lose the tradition and beauty of print work. It’s important to us to show that even though an online environment can never be a physical book, it still has its own kind of materiality. The internet is a vast world and so we set out to balance this with simple and minimal designs that are often inspired by the physical/non-online world.

What is the readership like for SpringGun Press? What do you imagine your typical reader is like?

We meet a lot of our contributors and readers at AWP and that makes sense; our readers are mostly poets and fiction writers with some connection to an MFA program. They are actively involved in the small press community, dedicated to artistic dialogue, and often run their own small publishing entities.

We also have a strong following in the electronic literature community since not many people are publishing or even creating digital work. We’ve met several of our contributors and readers at the E-Poetry Festival and many are international. There is a definite American presence in the community, too.

How has SpringGun Press evolved over time?

Again, we saw SpringGun as a way to introduce the traditional poetry community to digital literature. But in a larger sense we were curious about publishing and how it worked with both of our skill sets, and we hoped that we could do something unique and interesting with the traditional journal form in an online space. It was something that was well received from the start and since we had such a productive working relationship, we decided to expand into chapbooks and full-lengths. We’ve also recently added a poetry editor, Derrick Mund and fiction editor, Christopher Rosales to our staff. At this point, we would never be able to produce two journal issues and three full-length books a year without them.

One sea change that we’re considering for the future is to shift the bi-annual journal format to a more continuous one. We’re discussing using the SpringGun website space to feature a new author, set of poems, book, or short story every month or week. So rather than having a journal that people come to read twice a year, we envision it as a space that people are constantly checking and contributing to.

What is the next exciting thing happening at SpringGun Press?

We’re going to be publishing novels and novellas (no short story collections) starting in 2014. This July and August will be our first reading period for fiction manuscripts so we are very excited. Of course we will continue to read poetry manuscripts of any length during this time, too. Find us at the AWP book fair for specific dates, guidelines, and rules. SpringGun Staff Fiction Editor, Christopher Rosales Poetry Editor, Derrick Mund


Erin CostelloErin Costello is a poet, digital artist, and web designer who holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado, Boulder. In 2009 she founded SpringGun Press with Mark Rockswold: a print press for books of poetry, and a bi-annual online journal of poetry, flash fiction, and electronic literature. She has received awards for both her traditional and electronic writing and her work has been featured in various venues and publications. Originally from Northern California, she currently lives in Denver where she enjoys the incredible literary/art scene and works as an online marketer. More at



Mark RockswoldMark Rockswold holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the co-founder of SpringGun Press and his work has appeared in Tarpaulin Sky, the Electronic Literature Directory, Titmouse Magazine and elsewhere. He lives and teaches English in Denver.