What Fun! An Interview.

Black Lawrence Press publishes a weekly newsletter, Sapling, and they reached out to Club Plum. Read some things you may not know below.

Sapling: What should people know who may not be familiar with Club Plum?

Thea Swanson: Club Plum is brand new on the scene but will be around for years. I know this because my reason for starting the journal was purely for the enjoyment of making an ongoing piece of literary art, an ongoing conversation, a temporary but resonant entry into a beautiful or strange or dark or wondrous place, depending. In the same way that I am electrified when I send out one of my own stories to journals, I am exhilarated when good work lands in my inbox. The conversations I have with writers and artists who submit their work is a large part of the joy. The process. I mean, really: Can you imagine the process of bringing literary art to others unaccompanied by correspondence? What a cold process it would be. 

Sapling: How did the name for Club Plum come about?

TS: On Friday nights, in my little house on Plum Street, I will sometimes crank the music and dance solo while family members sprawl on sofas. Lifetimes ago, I would head off to clubs, but circumstances don’t easily allow that now. Club Plum Literary Journal is an artistic rendition of my tucked-away house-club insofar as anyone can enter for an absorbing hour or two and exit with new memories, sometimes crepuscular, sometimes surreal.

Sapling: What do you pay close attention to when reading submissions for Club Plum? Any deal breakers?

TS: Lyrical and/or tight language reveals itself immediately, and that’s when I hone in, hoping everything will come together. Flash-fiction sentences pack more story in each line than longer pieces; prose-poem lines are tighter still. When submission sentences amble, I know the piece isn’t going to work for this journal. Deal breakers: the male gaze, sexism, mainstream romance, feel-good stories, racism, and proselytizing even in its most subtle forms (I can smell it, so don’t bother). When choosing art, I am open to any works created with care besides photography, only because real images are everywhere these days with cellphones. I prefer abstract pieces or pieces possessing otherworldly qualities. Additionally, I have been getting many digital pieces, and though I like them and have accepted some, I would love to see more pieces made with pencils, pens, paint and paper.

Sapling: Where do you imagine Club Plum to be headed over the next couple years? What’s on the horizon?

TS: Already, for issue two, I’m accepting prose poems, even though I didn’t ask for them at first. There are just so many rich and wonderful prose poems out there that I have to open the journal up to those. With that said, I’m not looking for prosaic poetry or lined poetry, no matter how fabulous. For the next couple of years and beyond, it is important to state that Club Plum will still be here. It will not fold like so many new journals do. I know this because I am solid in my approach: I will not add on aspects to this journal that will overwhelm me such as creating a print version, giving or taking money, competing with other journals, turning this journal into a marketing venture, or expanding the masthead. My vision is clear: I see steady volumes of excellent words and compelling art made by writers and artists with my help. This is enough.

Sapling: As an editor, what is the hardest part of your job? The best part?

TS: The hardest part of my job is when I’ve been having an exchange with a writer over their work and I have to ultimately decline. In these cases, I have opened up an opportunity for a writer to send work or revise work (without any promises of acceptance) but the piece doesn’t work for me in the end. I feel bad that I have given hope and then taken it away.

Sapling: If you were stranded on a desert island for a week with only three books which books would you want to have with you?

TS: I would bring three books that I haven’t read before, either novels, short story collections, or prose poetry, carefully selected, written within the current decade, and published by small presses.

Sapling: Just for fun (because we like fun and the number three) if Club Plum was a person what three things would it be thinking about obsessively? 

TS: Death, life, the moment of now.

Thea Swanson

Thea Swanson View All →

Thea Swanson is a feminist atheist who holds an MFA in Writing from Pacific University in Oregon. She is the Founding Editor of Club Plum Literary Journal, and her poetry, fiction, essays and reviews are published in places such as World Literature Today, Mid-American Review and Northwest Review.

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