Vivian Dorsel editor at upstreet, was kind enough to answer some of my questions.
For those that are curious, upstreet is going to be at the bookfair (K21) and will be having a Thursday night event at 7pm, 910 Arts Event Gallery. 910 Santa Fe Drive, and if you haven’t been paying attention, that’s Denver, CO.
So how about we see some of the answers a lit mag editor has for my questions? If Vivian is interested, I might even do a live interview with her later this week! Oh, and upstreet, no capitals. All lowercase.
Tell me about upstreet. What would you say is your mission statement?
—My vision for upstreet is that it will ultimately contain a mix of work by both established and emerging writers. The established writers will attract readers, and the less-well-known writers will then have the exposure they need to become better established. The most interesting thing about publishing a literary journal is the possibility of discovering new talent.
I sincerely hope that you are looking for writers. Tell me about the kind of writers you want to see submit?
—upstreet’s calls for submissions ask for “quality submissions, with an edge.” I like many different kinds of work, from the traditional to the experimental, so the genre editors have quite a lot of leeway in choosing the content of the magazine. The guidelines brochure contains statements by the three genre editors about what they’re looking for. Our smallest number of submissions is in creative nonfiction, but despite that, I’ve actively tried to build the presence of CNF in the journal.
I see you’re based up in the Berkshires, I know place informs my writing, does it inform your editing? Do you feel upstreet reflects a place, or transcends it?
—I was born in the Berkshires, and have lived there all my life. This is reflected in the title of the journal. When I was a kid, we used to say we were going “upstreet” when we went to the center of my hometown (Pittsfield, Massachusetts) to shop or just hang out. I wrote the editor’s essay for the first issue to explain what the title meant. Since then, there has been a similar essay (or prose poem) in each issue. When I started the journal, I had been managing editor of The Berkshire Review (which is now defunct) for eight years. The editors who helped me start upstreet were area people, and most of the writers who submitted knew me from The Berkshire Review. This is no longer the case. upstreet gets submissions from all over the world, and the more recent issues have each published only two or three writers from Berkshire County. I like to keep a Berkshire presence in the journal because it enables me to hold local readings to launch each issue. Other than that, it’s really a national journal.
Tell me about something that excited you as an editor.
—Well, I’m both editor and publisher, so I naturally get a thrill when upstreet gets recognition in some way. The most exciting example of that so far has been the Independent Publisher Book Award Bronze Medal. But I guess I’d have to say that the most fun I have as an editor is the author interview. I enjoy doing the preparation—reading almost all of what the author has written and coming up with questions to ask—and then, the conversation itself. It really is exciting to talk with someone who has been a successful author, and learn about his/her experiences and opinions about the craft. I’ve been fortunate to be able to interview some pretty interesting writers.
What do you hope to do at AWP? I note your presence, Bookfair table K21, and your reading on Thursday, take a moment to tell us what you are up to, and what you hope to do.
—AWP is an exciting place to be. There are so many events, both on the program and after hours, that it’s impossible to even scratch the surface. I always end up highlighting more things in the program than I could possibly attend, even if I didn’t have to stay at the upstreet Bookfair table for most of the time. And that, of course, is the main reason I’m here: to make sure upstreet’s name is before the writing public. I also enjoy seeing people I went to school with or met at other conferences, and meeting writers face to face who have appeared in upstreet. I get such a kick out of that, having someone come to the Bookfair table and say, “I’m so-and-so, and I had a short story in upstreet number four.”
Thank you so much Vivian for taking the time to talk to me.