Content Tagged ‘editing’

Seven Questions (+1) for Sophia Stid

Today in Seven Questions, we talk with Ecotone postgraduate fellow Sophia Stid. Sophia recently received the 2021 Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize, from Calyx magazine, and the 2022 Sally Buckner Emerging Writers’ Fellowship, from the North Carolina Writers’ Network. Her micro-chapbook Whistler’s Mother was published by Bull City Press in October 2021. Her work has also been supported by fellowships from Vanderbilt University and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and her recent work can be found in Best New Poets, Poetry Daily, and Pleiades.

Book cover for Sophia Stid's Whistler's MotherSophia has worked on Ecotone for the past two-plus years, and was recently promoted to associate editor. Her keen editorial sensibility, and her equally keen attention to both place and the artists and writers who consider it, are a gift to the magazine. Though some on Ecotone’s staff may quibble with her choice, in the lightning round below, of pie over cake, her editorial and writerly decision making is indisputably exemplary—wise, nuanced, thoughtful, kind. We are lucky to have her as part of the Ecotone team. Editor Anna Lena Phillips Bell interviewed her in fall 2021.

As you begin your third year with Ecotone, what are you excited about in your work?

I’m really excited about the Climate Issue, which we’re putting together right now—and Ecotone 30, which will reach subscribers and newsstands in the next week. The questions we’re holding as an editorial team are difficult and important: how to walk with hope and grief and rage at once, how to work for change while mourning what we’ve already lost. Carrying these questions in community with our contributors has already shaped my thinking and my living.

What’s something you’ve discovered in editing that surprised you or helped your own writing?

I’m surprised by how often it seems that when I have questions for a piece of writing as an editor, the work itself will hold a phrase or idea that guides the editorial team through those questions. I’ve learned so much from that about trusting the work itself to teach me how to write it.

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House Guest with Lesley Wheeler: every literary world is imaginary

In House Guest, we invite Ecotone and Lookout authors and cover artists, as well as editors from peer presses and magazines, to tell us what they’re working on, to discuss themes in their writing or unique publishing challenges, to answer the burning questions they always hoped a reader would ask.

Lesley Wheeler’s poem “Grant Report, New Zealand” appears in Ecotone’s Migration Issue, and her entry in our Poem in a Landscape department appears in Ecotone 19, our tenth-anniversary issue. Radioland, her fourth collection of poems, is newly out from Barrow Street Press.

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Editing a book of poetry is probably not on most people’s list of terrors, but I’d rather face public speaking any day, or maybe an egg sac bursting with baby wood spiders. You’ve been web-spinning for years and the results are almost ready for the public, but first you have to make sure the spacing and em dashes are just so. And that’s the easy part: it’s much harder to read your poems freshly again and again during the brief window your overworked editors allot for the process. If you don’t, however, you won’t catch the word whorl on three pages running, or a slightly bungled Dickinson quote, or the dropped italics. Then one day when, overcoming the existential nausea of book promotion, you stand at podium before those raised expectant faces, you’ll turn to page seventeen and the error you finally spot will break your heart.

Well, maybe you wouldn’t burn in shame about an em dash, but certain slips are more dreadful. While combing through Radioland, I worried particularly about my references to New Zealand. I spent several months in Aotearoa in 2011, and since then I’ve been negotiating my right to write about it: living there remapped the world for me, but I feared exoticizing the islands’ green cliffs and wild shorelines, skimming over pretty surfaces like a tourist. I quadruple-checked diacritical marks in Maori words, as well as facts about the 2011 earthquake. Differences between New Zealand and U.S. English also created quandaries. Maori would take a macron over the a in many contexts, for instance, but it doesn’t in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the reference my press uses to settle spelling ambiguities. One poem triggered copyediting marks with a reference to “the mad jangling / of tui in the punga.” Tui, the name of an extraordinary New Zealand bird, which can be seen and heard in the New Zealand encyclopedia Te Ara, appears in U.S. dictionaries, but punga does not and therefore must be italicized. The contrasting fonts looked distracting, plus I realized how difficult punga would be for an American reader to look up, so I ended up changing the latter to “tree ferns” (fortunately metrically similar). Cultural respect, levels of correctness, confusion for readers, elegance on the page—they’re tricky to balance.

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