Interview With Blackbird

Logo of Blackbird

Author: Lena Moses-Schmitt

What makes Blackbird a unique part of the publishing community?

I think that the fact that Blackbird is an all-online journal increasingly gives us advantages, in the sense that we can experiment broadly in ways we couldn’t in print. We’re able to publish video essays and audio recordings, for example. And one of my favorite things about working in online publishing is figuring out how to translate certain pieces for an online experience, such as David Wojahn’s “Ochre” from our v9n2 issue, a suite of twenty-five poems with accompanying images.

Because of our online format, we also don’t have much holding us back in terms of the length of the pieces we can accept—recently, we’ve published a few stories that are sixty pages or over.

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

Pieces that make us forget that we’re reading them, because they’re so absorbing. Anything that makes us sit up and take notice because of the originality. I personally love pieces that are inventive with and pay careful attention to language, especially if it speaks to the content.

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

Besides what I mentioned in the last answer, I would say no, not necessarily. One of the goals of Blackbird is to capture a wide array of excellent different styles and voices.

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

We are constantly surprised and pleased to find that we have readers all around the world, mostly, I think, due to the fact that we’re online and widely accessible. It’s difficult to imagine some sort of “typical reader”, since we’d like the work that we publish to reach a diverse set of readers. I think our reading process helps a lot in this regard—we consistently have a large number of interns, volunteers and editorial staff reading submissions, all with a different tastes and opinions, and then we gather for large group discussions.

What is the next exciting thing happening at Blackbird?

We have a great set of poets that we’re very excited to publish in the next few issues. We’ve also have a particularly large amount of spectacular audio recordings and readings in the lineup. And we’re in the process of putting together our annual feature showcasing a number of emerging, up-and-coming writers to keep an eye on.