Interview With Handsome

Cover of Issue of Handsome

Author: Paige Ackerson-Kiely & Allison Titus

Picture of Paige Ackerson-Kiely & Allison TitusWhat makes Handsome a unique part of the publishing community?

Now in its fifth issue, Handsome remains dedicated to showcasing an equal proportion of emerging & established poets. We’re often publishing writers that we’ve never read before & those discoveries always feel exciting to us.

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

It’s simple. We like poems that have a lot of guts in them.


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


Here are two poems recently published in Handsome that might give you an idea:


[a poem by y madrone from issue 3]


a chest is an embarrassment to have.


I am embarrassed to write anything honest. I am embarrassed for every word. for all my predicates & names. for my lover, my children, the color of my walls. I am embarrassed about desires, my pronouns, tea choices. of my jokes & parts, I am embarrassed of my breasts—no, I hate my breasts, but am too embarrassed to say anything. there are so many things I wish to say, please, will I always feel too embarrassed. my dishes so embarrassing, how they mismatch & break, how my pants are labeled not your daughter’s pants—that’s embarrassing. my messy house, my failing wardrobe, my dildos—all embarrassed.

and from issue 5, a poem by Lauren de Paepe:

Dwindling That Spring I Took That Gun and Loosened Its Barrel

Unspeakable—the ash           /snowing from mouths

pallor:              of slack tongues/         cloaks the cockatiels


inbred parlors/of moth—loosestrife—sprung   from grout

—ugly his manor: porch-drunk/shallow-keeled


—tornado        O lust—wide               door/less eye

needles the fray—beds           /unraveling      sling


pinballed/calm fenced—in wreckage—bite her thighs:

glass-smitten/severed—         carina/two wings


unhitched—stones out back   orphaned/lungs           —flightless

organ/in fugue staked with vines        —understand


this bruise—:   casements wedlocked/in rust desperate

trust     in weathered beatings      /rouge         battened hands


ballet   of lunges          /leashed to rough habit—

doors knobbed/with coals—this blood’s brand           of exit:

What is the next exciting thing happening at Handsome?

We are asking one poet per issue to create a longer form project or folio … an exploration of / an inquiry into / a meditation on their preoccupation of choice; projects that test the limits of language and art, and might otherwise have difficulty finding their way into print.