Interview With Rhino

Rhino 2013

What makes RHINO a unique part of the publishing community?

We’re independent and all-volunteer, since 1978. Our metier is excellence in original poetry, translations of poetry, and flash fiction (under 750 words).  We’re still a print-only journal, beautifully bound and designed.  Each annual showcases about 110 poems, culled from about 10,000 submissions. And our editors are working poets; we meet at least twice a month, so the annual journal we produce is composed in a very collaborative manner.

Though we exist primarily to publish our journal, we also support our community, contributors, and readers with 2 monthly reading and workshop series in the Chicago area; each of these features poets from around the United States.

We enjoy an active online presence through our website, “Big Horn” blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account. These efforts include an audio poem series, interviews with contributors, writer updates, lots of photos, and more. We have some new initiatives to showcase the poetry from the journal, planned for release later this year.

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

We look to be delighted and/or profoundly moved by a submission. We love to be surprised — astonished, even – and to learn something new that writing can do.

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

We’re really just looking for the best poetry, regardless of style or provenance.  We’re proud that each year we publish pieces by well-known poets alongside emerging poets and those from countries outside the United States. Page through any RHINO and you’ll find work in the realms of traditional, experimental, formal, narrative, lyric, anti-lyric, collaborative, witness, translations, and more.

We also rely on the auditory experience of the poem. Each poem in the journal was first read aloud at an editorial meeting. Poems which can be felt from the page and through the ear serve our pleasure, and, we hope, of our readers.

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

We conducted a survey recently amongst our readers and they told us they read RHINO because the work is high-quality, eclectic, and emotionally available. Our readers live all over the world, and in every part of the United States; although many are poets, we have a sizable readership of other professions who love and support good poetry.

RHINO typically publishes poets from 30 or more states in the US and from 8-10 countries.  One of the reason we have a range of readers, and so many loyal readers is because RHINO poems are authentic; though a mix of styles, there is a common cutting toward truth in each. So the journal can be paged through over the course of several train commutes, or savored as an anthology to return to again and again. Every year at AWP we meet more readers who tell us how much they love us because every time they read RHINO they discover something.

What is the next exciting thing happening at RHINO?

In the next year on our website you’ll see some expressions of the poems in new media form, and more from our editors about poems we’ve chosen. And we will continue to offer both the Editors’ and Founders’ Prizes, awarding at least $1500 in prize money to poets every year.

For the 2014 issue, we are about to launch our next Translation Initiative, calling for original poems in English and poems-in-translation from Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, and Yemen.  Our last initiative successfully  focused on the Philippines and Vietnam, so we’re excited and hopeful to be able to continue to showcase poets which are under-represented in American literary journals.

We have some gorgeous new poetry t-shirts with our rhino logo by Tom Bachtell and soon they’ll be available for purchase on our website!