Sunday, January 29, 2012

inkscrawl Rises from the Ashes

Last year, Mitchell Hart founded the online journal inkscrawl, devoted entirely to short spec poetry of ten lines or fewer. The first two issues featured some great work, but in October of 2011, Mitchell announced that he would no longer publish inkscrawl.

Then, this January, inkscrawl rose again like phoenix from the ashes. The zine is now edited by Samantha Henderson and published by Stone Bird Press, a newly founded micro press owned by Rose Lemberg.

Samantha took the time to do a little interview with FU regarding her new editorial position.

AS: You are inkscrawl's second editor. What will be different from issue 3 and onwards?

SH: Besides the obvious fact that any two editors will have different tastes, the first two issues of inkscrawl showcased poetry with a fantastical element.  Starting with issue 3, inkscrawl is now open to all speculative short poetry, science fiction included.  The first two issues of inkscrawl were an asset to the speculative poetry field not only because they featured the short form but because the poems Mitchell Hart edited were wonderful examples of what could be done in short formal/informal poetry with the inquiry and curiosity that inform the speculative genres, and I hope to continue that.

AS: Where do you see the appeal in short spec poetry both for readers and writers? Being a poet yourself, what does it take to write a good short poem?

SH:  For both readers and writers, I believe much of the appeal is to experience or make something that's a crystallization, on short form, of the spirit of inquiry and imaginative possibility of speculative genres - the shock of recognizing something that doesn't exist in our reality that has created its own fantastical or science fictional space.  Short poetry, formalized or not, can be deceptively difficult; It takes focus and requires being mindful not only of what poetic materials (words, rhythms, rhymes, etc) are used but also what is not used. 

AS: What kind of work would you like to find in your inbox? What topics are you looking for?

SH: I've avoided being specific about what precisely I'm looking for in the guidelines because I don't want anyone to not send something because they think it might be a form I don't like, or because it doesn't fall into some kind of strict definition of speculative.  There are some things that are going to be a hard sell, I think because they are difficult to do well - humor, notoriously, and rhyming poetry come to mind - but that doesn't mean people shouldn't send it.  I see a lot that speculative poetry published that I would consider "one liners," rather than poems - but then, one of my favorite very short poems is Kendall Evans' "If Only," which is all of nine words long and manages to invoke enormous context. 

I would like to see something that takes the scope and the powerful voice of Alex Dally MacFarlane's "Sung Around Alsar-Scented Fires" ( and manages to do it as a triolet, or gets to the meat of Neuromancer in ten lines.  I like poems that invoke an immediate emotional reaction without being maudlin, like Rose Lemberg's "If I Had Reb Yoel's Violin" (  And although a poem can be stronger for being self-contained, I like work that makes me want to explore or research something outside of my experience. 

AS: Ten years from now inkscrawl will be...?

SH:   Gone with the rest of the internet in the Solar Storm of 2017?  Archived in a coil of tungsten at the base of your ear? The Sentient Meme Party nominee for POTUS? It's impossible to know if any venue, poetry or fiction, pixel or dead tree, will be around that far in the future, but whether or not inscrawl's around in ten years I hope the poems it has and will feature will resonate with those who appreciate short spec poems.

FU thanks Sam for taking the time to answer our questions! We hope that readers take a few minutes to visit and browse the inkscrawl site, and writers who are interested in submitting their work can find the guidelines here.