Interview With Baldhip Magazine
Authors: Caitlin Baird and Jess Knowles
How did you come up with the idea for BALDHIP? What inspired the name?
C: we study poetry together at university, and in our editing & discussions we often talked about how our aesthetic was underrepresented in Canada, how most of the poets & mags we admired were coming out of the States or England. one evening i casually said something like, i’d love to just make my own magazine & prove there’s exciting work happening here & Jess said, i’ll do it with you. so we started scheming.
J: I definitely remember it being my idea, way to steal credit Caitlin.
C: it was important to us to provide a platform for marginalized voices as well, & we decided the way we wanted to do this was by committing to publishing a minimum of 50% female-identified writers & artists. the stats on women in publishing are heartbreaking (& have you seen the stats circling around about the whiteness of Canadian poetry awards?).
originally we wanted to call ourselves RHUBARB MAG because i love to garden & Jess has emotions about rhubarb, but there’s already a mag called Rhubarb 🙁 so we trawled through a list of plants that were local to Vancouver Island where we live. we saw ‘baldhip rose’ & thought it was funny. that was it. we make a lot of decisions based on what we find funny.
J: Mostly that is because I am a broken person who cannot distinguish one emotion from another, so if something makes me have feelings I assume it’s funny.
What is the most challenging and rewarding part about being an editor?
C: i love reading new work & i love having the ability to publish & promote talented artists. i enjoy the entire process, from receiving submissions to designing the website (which we accomplish with the invaluable help of Ray Lister) to interacting with the lit community on our social media.
luckily we agree most of the time about what should go into an issue. the hardest is when work is nearly excellent but not quite, or when we receive work from creators we admire but we don’t feel the particular pieces submitted are their best, or when the concept/structure is better than the execution. there’s an awkwardness to rejection. we try whenever possible to give a bit of feedback to contributors because i know i appreciate that myself.
J: I am a tender heart, which means I am no longer allowed to do the rejections.
I think one of the things I find most challenging is the administrative part. I’m bad with deadlines and organizing. I absolutely love reading new submissions, and seeing an issue coming together and how ideas we each bring meld into something totally different about how an issue will go.
What is it about a work that makes you want to publish it? What advice would you give to emerging writers looking to be published?
C: this a difficult thing to answer without using a bunch of buzzwords – fresh, innovative, experimental, structurally exciting, richly detailed (or excessively plain), funny (or sad or angry), i don’t know. certain stylistic elements or subjects appeal to me more than others but in the end i either Love a poem or i don’t.
J: I’m always looking for things that make me laugh. Some of the pieces I hold closest to my heart are ones that made me gut-punch laugh/huff from feelings.
C: the best way to get a sense of what we like to publish is to read our published issues. that being said, i really like to be surprised or proven wrong so who knows. for art we look for mixed media, interactions with modernity & the internet, aesthetic pleasure. our tumblr is a great way to see the range of visual styles & forms we admire.
advice? from an editors’ position: read the submission guidelines & follow them – & send the full amount of pieces allowed! increase your chances. go for simultaneous submissions, why not, & submit often. you can resubmit to mags after a grace period (usually 6 months). address your cover letter to the editors if you can find their names – it makes us feel like you like the mag & we aren’t just another URL to you. don’t submit to mags that you don’t like to read. & the work should be edited, should be your best.
as a writer: if you’re smart you’ll have no idea if you have any talent or if your work is good. whatever. it’s chill. do it because you love it & share it because you have to.
J: I don’t know about writers having no idea if their work is good, I think sometimes you get a feeling and you just *know* that the work is good and it deserves to be seen. I mean, I’ve seen people be WAY off on this one too, so maybe it’s different for everyone? As for advice for emerging writers? I’m still one of those myself, and all I’ve learned from this whole cycle of writing, and trying to get published and getting rejected & doing it all over again is to have thick skin and realistic expectations. I expect to get rejected every time so when I do it’s not painful. Reading the work aloud helps, so try and do readings with friends, or at an open mic. When I’m doing a reading, I can suddenly see things that aren’t working. Something about being in front of others really helps.
What are some of your favorite pieces that you have published?
C: i’m really excited about our upcoming issue (April). we’re publishing an awesome suite of poems by Gabrielle Marceau about Miami which feature Denise Richards & ascii, as well as some pieces by Nicholas Grider which seek to update Jewish mysticism for 2015, & a bunch of other A+ stuff. Taylor Swift makes an appearance.
some past favourites include Portia Elan, Coco Huang, Kallie Fallandays, Sara Sutterlin, Alisha Dukelow, Robert Auld, Christopher Bakka… it’s hard to narrow to narrow things down because we only publish work we adore.
J: Our upcoming issue is really good. There are some poems that have really stuck with me, but as I look back at old issues it’s insanely hard because every time I read this work I fall in love with it all over again.
What is the next exciting thing happening at BALDHIP?
C: after our fourth issue (which came out yesterday) we are going to be compiling a sort of highlights anthology which will be in print (!!) & feature some new work & some interviews as well. i love working in print because it has a whole host of other challenges & possibilities, & i love tactile interaction with the work. the issue will be available for purchase on our site in early summer.
we also want to start including more interviews with contributors, which will be hosted on our tumblr.