Friday, March 12, 2010

Discovery Friday: Copper Nickel

On Discovery Friday this week is Copper Nickel, a fine literary journal out of the University of Colorado Denver. The most recent issue (I'm a subscriber, and have been reading it all this week) includes Holly Goddard Jones (author of Girl Trouble), Bob Hicok, Dan Albergotti, and a whole slew of others. Great stuff. Here's senior editor Jake Adam York to answer some questions.

Oh, and Copper Nickel is part of The Writer's Center's Literary Journal Discount Program.

Tell us about Copper Nickel. What separates it from other literary journals?

Two distinguishing characteristics are important to us.

First, we don't have an "aesthetic." Many journals, whether deliberately or not, seem to have a style, which is why a lot of writers ask us what we're looking for, or whether we're "experimental" or "traditional." When we talk amongst ourselves, we talk about wanting to take whatever is "good." And we work hard to discover how each piece wants to work and try to judge each submission on its own terms. The result is, I believe, a truly eclectic journal---interested in emerging and established writers, in experimental and traditional work, in local and national talent.

Second, we're working to be a national literary journal with a largely undergraduate staff. We have an undergraduate Creative Writing program here at UC-Denver, where our students continue to maintain that they're not interested in publishing or publishing in a traditional campus literary journal. Our students want more, and I and the other faculty members work to connect our students to a national community.

What would you like our readers and members to know about you? Can you tell us a little bit about what you like to publish?

Again, we're interested in anything that's "good." I have a particular interest, and many of my editors share this interest, in pieces that communicate their own parameters and then proceed to fulfill them. We're excited about strong realist fiction, but also interested in experimental fictions. We like narrative poems as well as near-hermetic lyrics. With non-fiction, I think we favor the lyric essay, and are excited to see pieces that arbitrate their forms rather than expository pieces. But, if something is accomplished, we're often happy to find a home for it.

Each issue, we believe, is carefully crafted, presented in an order that allows, for those who want it, to read the issue like a book written by a series of different authors. We'd like to see, in our own community, the literary journal become more visible and more widely circulated, and for us that means working to create a satisfying reading experience that isn't self-congratulatory, either to our readers or to ourselves.

That means we work not to repeat ourselves, but we're also eager to reach new readers. We publish the journal, first and foremost, to connect writers with readers.

What advice do you have for anyone submitting a manuscript?

Take yourself and your work, your time and our time seriously. We're happy to review manuscripts from anyone, but with almost 4000 manuscripts to process each year, it's frustrating to read a manuscript with a lot of typos, a cover letter that seems to feel this is all a joke, to receive robo-submissions (the author just keeps firing them off like a Gatling gun) or see a writer submitting and then withdrawing a manuscript several times over the course of a month.

We read each manuscript carefully which takes a lot of time. We try to offer comments when we feel we are close to connecting to a writer, and we hope writers will spend the some time thinking about us, as readers, as we think about them.

At the upcoming AWP conference in your home base of Denver, you’re going to have a pretty high profile. Where can we find you? What kind of events will you be promoting there?

We're major sponsors, so you'll see our name everywhere. On Thursday night, we're presenting Michael Chabon's reading at the conference as well as a reading of eight debut poets---Dan Albergotti, Jericho Brown, Stacey Lynn Brown, Michael Dumanis, Farrah Field, J. Michael Martinez, Alison Stine, and Allison Benis White---on our campus, just two blocks away, earlier that evening. On Saturday night at the Denver Press Club (just two blocks from the convention center), we're presenting what I'm calling "an edited reading," which will be presented as if it were an issue of Copper Nickel, with a table of contents, and a slate of writers who have contributed to the journal over the last few years. In between all that, we'll have a booth in the bookfair, where we'll be selling subscriptions for a very sweet low price, with some giveaways, and some new hot t-shirts. We receive submissions from more than 1500 writers each year, yet we have fewer than 300 subscribers. We're hoping to attract a few more at AWP, because we're hoping to be around for more than a few years.

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