An interview with Amy MacLennan, poetry editor of the Cascadia Review

Amy MacLennan has appeared at the San Francisco Lit Crawl, the Petaluma Poetry Walk, the San Luis Obispo Poetry Festival, and the Windfall Reading Series in Eugene, and Cody’s Books in Berkeley. She has taught poetry workshops through the Sequoia Adult School, Oregon Poetic Voices, the Oregon Poetry Association and at the Northwest Poets’ Concord, written for the 2011 Poet’s Market, and published two chapbooks–Weathering (Uttered Chaos Press, 2012) and The Fragile Day (Spire Press, 2011)–with a third on the way. She is the poetry editor for the Cascadia Review.

EB: Tell us about the Cascadia Review?

AM: Cascadia Review is a regional, online literary magazine started by Dana Guthrie Martin in 2012. We have three issues each year (Fall, Winter, Spring), and we feature thirteen to twenty poets and artists over the course of two or three months.

EB: The Review seems to be about more than just poetry.

AM: Dana’s vision is to showcase work from the Cascadia bioregion, which includes all or part of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and Alaska, along with fragments of Nevada, Wyoming and Yukon. Current or former residents are eligible.

EB: As a poetry editor, what do you look for in work?

AM: This is always the hardest question to answer. I look for imagery that is unexpected. I want fresh diction. I want unusual syntax that still makes sense. Exceptional use of assonance and consonance will always score bonus points for me.

EB: Do you make editorial suggestions? What’s the submission process like for poets?

AM: We occasionally make suggestions to poets. I generally suggest tightening. The submission process is pretty straightforward because we use Submittable.

EB: How did you become a poetry editor?

AM: I started judging small poetry contests about ten years ago then became a managing editor for The Cortland Review around the same time. I’ve guest edited and acted as a reader for print and online journals as well. I became a first reader for The Washington Prize (a full-length manuscript contest) in 2011, and I joined Cascadia Review a few years ago reading then becoming the editor.

EB: What do you enjoy most about editing?

AM: I am so happy when I can share work that I believe in. I’ve published, nominated, selected, and advanced work that I truly believe everyone needs to be reading, and I’m so pleased to be a part of that process.

EB: What advice have you got for aspiring poets and writers?

AM: Read a lot. Write a lot. Repeat. Follow the rules. Break the rules. Repeat. When you’re sharing your work, don’t take negative criticism personally. NEVER take rejection personally.

EB: What do you do when you are not editing poetry?

AM: I do freelance writing and editing along with social media consulting. I do consultations and editing on poetry manuscripts. I recently had a book accepted by MoonPath Press in Kingston, WA, for release in early 2016 (The Body, A Tree), so I’m tweaking that manuscript.

EB: How come we say “poets and writers”? Does that mean poets are special kinds of writers?

AM: Poets are special kinds of writers. (This is where I laugh a little bit.) Line breaks, use of sound, heavy imagery, and compression are the keys.

EB: Thanks. Happy poetry month!

AM: You too!

About Ed Battistella

Edwin Battistella’s latest book Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels was released by Oxford University Press in March of 2020.
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