Monday, November 23, 2015

The La Bloga interview with the editorial staff of riverSedge

riverSedge is a literary journal of culture and literature with an understanding of its place in the nation. The “river’s edge” means many things: the edge of the America’s, divided by the Rio Grande, as well as the cutting edge of creativity in language and genre. Since 1977, riverSedge has published the very best art and literature from the South Texas region and beyond. Past artists and authors have included Barry Deutsch, Larry McMurtry, Rolando Hinojosa, and Sandra Cisneros.

I posed a question to the riverSedge editorial staff: What makes a successful submission and what doesn’t? Here is how they responded (along with a little bit about who they are):

Jean Braithwaite (Graphic Literature Editor): I’m part of the creative writing program, the literary-nonfiction person, but I’m interested in a wide range of other academic and artistic areas too. One of my particular passions is graphic literature, aka comics. We’re living in the great age of comics right now, not just single-panel or single-strip jokes, but journalism, memoir, fiction, essays, even poetry in comics form.

As riverSedge graphic-literature editor, I’m currently not getting the volume of submissions I’d like to see. Send me more! I’m looking for originality of voice/vision. Of course it helps to be an excellent draftsman, but even more important than that is deploying your compositional elements effectively: character and plot (for narrative pieces), setting, theme, imagery, tone, point-of-view, etc.

Britt Haraway (Fiction Editor): I am an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. My stories have appeared in the South Dakota Review, Natural Bridge, New Madrid, Great Weather for Media, Moon City Review, and BorderSenses. My poetry has also appeared in BorderSenses. My manuscript of stories Early Men has been provisionally accepted by Lamar University Literary Press.

The terms for a successful submission in fiction will be generated by each story—what are its apparent goals and questions and to what degree and with what quality does the story pursue those goals. Hard and fast rules will not cover the wonderful variety within the genre, and its hybrids. Me and our readers will follow anywhere for resonance and emotional contact and meaning. Thoughtful engagement with human experience and knowledge is vital, and this usually occurs in a story on the sentence level, where carefully imagined scenes (visceral and emotional) take their form in imagery, in which some small moment or picture has some correspondence with that which endures beyond moments.

These are the kind of readings you would find at most literary magazines; though with riverSedge, one perhaps gets extra credit for writing about something with a lot of urgency, rather than trying to observe a smaller slice of existence.

It seems natural to us that since our staff is pulled from the campuses where both Gloria Anzaldúa and Américo Paredes once studied, we should have an openness with regards to language. We have editors like Shoney Flores and José Antonio Rodríguez who have a lot of experience with translating work between English and Spanish, and we take pride in being able to carefully consider and edit work in English and Spanish and everything in between.

Katherine Hoerth (Interview Editor): I’m a poet, teacher, reviewer, and editor living in Deep South Texas. My interests include revisionist myth, gender and feminism, formalism, and the borderlands.

A successful interview unfolds like a conversation, natural, intriguing, insightful. I like interviews that dig beyond the expected, reveal something about the author and their work, and provide context and narrative. As a reader, I want to feel like I have a seat a the table, sipping coffee with the author and interviewer.

Marianita Escamilla (Non-Fiction Editor): I’m a former forensic DNA analyst who now spends her time writing and teaching First Year Writing Courses and Creative Writing courses at UTRGV. I also love being connected to the writing community outside of the university.

I don’t believe in checklists or individual elements. I like looking at a piece of writing as a whole and if it creates an open door to the writer’s view of the world he’s describing.

José Rodriguez (Poetry Editor): I am part of the MFA-Creative Writing faculty at UTRGV and poetry and scriptwriting editor of riverSedge.

Well, for both genres, start with a clean and professional submission with a brief bio. For scriptwriting, I look primarily at sharp dialogue and an engaging plot. For poetry, I look for evocative imagery and movement from start to finish, by which I mean that the speaker or subject of the poem has undergone a change, even if small, by the last line. 

[riverSedge is now accepting submissions for its next issue. There are $900 in prizes to winning entries in poetry, prose, and art. Deadline is March 1, 2016. For full details, visit Also, follow riverSedge on Twitter (@riversedgergv) and Facebook (]

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