Interview With Smoking Glue Gun
Authors: Blake Lee Pate & Taylor Jacob Pate
How did you come up with the idea for the magazine? What makes Smoking Glue Gun a unique part of the publishing community?
T: We were finishing our undergrad at LSU where we had been on the staff of the undergraduate journal, & we wanted a way to stay involved in poetry & the arts. We were working closely with Lara Glenum, who put us in contact with some terrific poets & writers from all over the country. We were also part of a lively poetry community that was essentially a saturated pool of young experimental writers who we thought needed exposure. One night, while hanging out with Joyelle McSweeny after she gave a reading in Baton Rouge, La, we started talking about how sad we were to be leaving delta & our ability to give new writers a voice. Then Joyelle said, “why don’t you start your own magazine?” So we did. & we love it.
B: We’re unique in that we’re completely open to any genre or medium we can get our hands on, & with Smoking Glue Gun being online only, we’re able to create a full online gallery experience—complete with writing, sound, video, mixed-media, and sometimes, poems on a map (Adam Atkinson, SGG1) or Emoji-poem translations (Stephanie Berger & Carina Finn, forthcoming in SGG6).
Being just two people, we’ve found the process of creating an aesthetic pretty fluid, embracing somewhat of a punk rock mindset & spotlighting artists who are breaking the rules for good reason. One of our favorite aspects of editing is coming across a treasure in our submissions–and since there’s no one else to argue with, we get to publish everything that we find sparkling. Also—we’re happy to be 50/50 on our editorial gender count.
How did you begin to gather materials for the first issue of Smoking Glue Gun? How did you go about the process of solicitation and advertising the journal?
B: We created hype around Baton Rouge & New Orleans by keeping the Volume 1 contributors a secret until the release—lots of writers in the area were submitting, and rumors got out that faculty might be involved in the magazine, and it kind of just blew up.
T: We got in touch with some of our favorite writers & any young artists we could find, & told everyone we were starting a new magazine. & the response was huge–we received submissions from faculty, grad students, undergrads & dropouts. The work we got from young artists & writers was really outstanding.
As far as advertising goes it was mostly word of mouth & email (we weren’t on Facebook, although we are now). The month before the release, we hung rainbow colored posters around town, periodically revealing letters of the contributor’s names to tease Volume 1 & gain local support.
B: We released Volume 1 at a local gallery in Baton Rouge, where we hung all of the poems & paintings gallery style, & had readings & performances throughout the night. Over 200 people attended & the site got over 3,000 hits that night.
T: We also had some huge supporters for the first few issues of Smoking Glue Gun. Lara Glenum & Laura Mullen immediately sent us kickin’ poems for Volume 1, which was pretty special considering we’d been studying under them & admiring their work for years. Nick Demske, Cathy Wagner, & Douglas Kearney were also instrumental in putting us in touch with talented young experimental poets in the early months of the magazine, & we quickly found ourselves with an overwhelming amount of good work.
What reader do you hope will happen upon Smoking Glue Gun? What do you hope they’ll find there?
T: Personally, I hope every reader happens upon the magazine & finds art that blows their face off. But, I guess our target audience is an appreciator of avant-garde art.
B: I’m with Taylor on this one—I’d love for any internet-surfer, magazine reader, art or music lover to find something they love on Smoking Glue Gun. Most of our contributors are relatively young (new or established) artists who are doing exciting (& sometimes startling) work—I hope a reader can find something that makes them feel a little bit more human.
What do you look for in a publishable piece of writing?
T: The way we see it we’re an arts magazine, not a Literary Journal/Review & we want writing that is art & presses into us the way a Basquiat painting or noise rock show would. We recently started featuring album reviews & it’s one of my favorite parts of Smoking Glue Gun, because it showcases the atmosphere we want & want to pass on to the world. If someone wants to get a good feel of what we are all about, I would say just read our Reviews page & listen to the bands we feature each month.
B: We always love a hint of rebellion. Personally, I look for what Debra Di Blasi (in an interview called “What is Experimental Literature” on HTML Giant) called DOPAMINE: Di Blasi asks, “Does the writing exceed my expectations, thus giving me a delicious boost of dopamine to which I am addicted? Does the focus of the lens through which I view the world thereby shift?” If the answer is “yes” to either of those questions, the piece is a yes for me.
T: Do It Yourself (with support & exposure) art that lives & breathes because it was made in the imagination of a human with feelings & a need to communicate.
What is the next exciting thing happening at Smoking Glue Gun?
T: The very next things are Volume 6, including work from Donald Dunbar, Stephanie Berger, Adam Day, & Caroline Crew, & a new album review—both set to release June 1st.
B: Besides Volume 6 & the June review, we’re currently running our first annual Chapbook Contest, and we’re pumped to be entering the print world. The Chapbook Contest, like the magazine, is open to art of any genre—poetry, fiction, visual art, or other—we’ll look at anything that can be printed & bound on 18-40 pages. The contest is open until August 1st, and the winner will be published in early 2014, receiving 50 contributor copies. The best part—its only $7 to submit and the chapbooks will be hand-made by the hands of Smoking Glue Gun.