Interview with Whale Sound poet – Dana Guthrie Martin

1. Please comment on the following:
a. The experience of hearing your poem on Whale Sound (WS):
I loved it! You actually pronounced my maiden name, Guthrie, incorrectly. I didn’t tell you, though, because I adored the way it sounded. You made me feel exotic, and it’s not often that one feels exotic when hearing one’s own name. I like to walk around now pretending my maiden name is pronounced the way you said it — that first syllable with the gooey-chewy center your pronunciation bestows. (Ed: We apologize, Dana! That was in the early days, before we learned to be much more careful about asking people how their name is pronounced. If you want us to go back and correct it, just say the word!)

And of course the way you read the entire poem was outstanding. I hate to say people are born to do this or that or be this or that, but I think you might have been born to — at least among other things — read poems aloud and edit a sound-based literary journal. Has that thought crossed your mind, and does the possibility both excite and scare you? (Ed: *thinking*)

b. The WS decision to focus only on web-active poets: Every time I see the phrase “web-active poets,” I misread it as “sex-active poets,” and then I think, “Where is Nic going to find any poets who are sexually active? I mean, let’s face it — poets aren’t getting any.” Then I realize what you actually mean, and it all makes a lot more sense. Yes! Focus on web-active poets. By all means.

c. The WS third-party submissions policy: This is something I have advocated for in various online spheres such as Facebook, and it is a practice I have undertaken for several years. If I (really, really) like someone’s work, and I know they haven’t been sending anything out, I will send some of their poems to a journal editor who I think would like their work, too. This probably annoys the editor in question, but I don’t care. Editors were born to be annoyed, so my actions are simply helping them do what they are already inclined to do.

I think all journals should adopt a third-party submission policy. I don’t see any reason not to accept work by those who appreciate it and want to see it out in the world, and I don’t see any reason for poets to not forward the fantastic work they read — as much as, if not more than, they forward their own work. We’re not here to advance ourselves, at least that’s not the only reason we are here. We are here to advance poetry. We need to understand that our poetry isn’t the only poetry, and that our poetry isn’t the work that will always be showcased.

In my mind, there’s a kind of letting go, a kind of acknowledgment, in sending out someone else’s work. It’s a way of honoring the fact that there’s a sandbox and we’re not the only ones in it. I will say, however, that when I send out someone else’s work and it is rejected, that stings in a way that it doesn’t when my own work is rejected. Rejections of other people’s work can put me in a funk for days.

Anything else you’d like to say about the WS experience? I don’t actually think editors are born to be annoyed, and I don’t think all editors are in fact annoyed. I know many kind and patient ones who are never annoyed, at least not with me, at least not that I know of. You never seem to be annoyed, Nic. Even if you were, you would still have that lovely voice which would be a pleasure to listen to, no matter what tone it happens to carry. I also think all editors, especially those like you who volunteer your time, should be thanked for their work in supporting and promoting poetry. Thank you, Nic, for what you are doing for the poetry community and the larger community. (Ed: :))

About Dana Guthrie Martin.
Dana’s poem on Whale Sound: Hallucination #1
More Whale Sound poet interviews.

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7 thoughts on “Interview with Whale Sound poet – Dana Guthrie Martin

  1. [...] :: My Whale Sound interview is up at Very Like a Whale. [...]

  2. Dave Bonta says:

    a sound-based literary journal
    Isn’t that kind of what Whale Sound is already? What should Nic be doing differently?

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