Interview With Salt Hill

Author: David Wojciechowski

What makes Salt Hill a unique part of the publishing community?

The way Salt Hill runs makes us somewhat unique I think. Since our staff is made up entirely of students in the MFA program at Syracuse, our editors and readers change quite frequently—each year shares some editor-DNA with the previous year, but things are still constantly changing. This kind of staff shuffle allows our style and aesthetic to shift and mold and remold like some kind of amorphous blob (doesn’t that sound sexy?). This helps Salt Hill remain un-pigeon-holed as far as aesthetics are concerned.

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

I think I’ve said before that I tend to look for work that I wish I could steal and call my own. With poetry I tend to lean toward work that is doing something new but with purpose. That doesn’t sound fun…purpose might not be the right word because I still enjoy pieces that stumble into something new by accident. More than anything I want to be compelled to read the piece without stopping and at the end feel like I learned something human.

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

So I don’t make a liar out of my answer to the first question, yes, I have an aesthetic preference but that isn’t necessarily Salt Hill’s view, right? Both Annie and I as editors-in-chief have an aesthetic, but so do our multiple genre editors and readers—so Salt Hill itself doesn’t have a very narrow aesthetic, we just aim to publish quality work. If it helps- the books on my living room floor currently include Russell Edson, Bill Knott, Sarah Manguso, Peter Markus, Ben Mirov, Charles Simic, and Jean Valentine to name a few—though this list could easily change tomorrow, or even tonight.

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

I imagine our typical reader spending all of their time between issues sitting by their mailbox reading the current issue over and over again until the next one arrives. They could have a tent or some kind of shanty I suppose, but it’s the dedication that I admire. Honestly, I’m not sure how to generalize our audience—I assume if they are reading Salt Hill then they want to see what is being written right now—what current writing and art are doing.. They want poems and stories that take the usual and just shift it enough so you feel like you’re walking sideways. That makes no sense.

What is the next exciting thing happening at Salt Hill?

So much is happening at Salt Hill I can barely contain it. Our 30th issue will be out in January featuring work from CAConrad, Lydia Davis, Ashley Farmer, Matt Kish, Dorianne Laux, J.A. Tyler, Diane Williams and so many more. Something I am really excited about is the Dead Lake Chapbook Contest that Salt Hill plans to run beginning January 1st. We have the great Christopher Kennedy (author of Ennui Prophet and Encouragement for a Man Falling to His Death) selecting the winning manuscript and we hope to publish it this coming summer. Really—the contest hasn’t even started but I can tell you the winning chapbook is going to be glorious.