Meet the Editors: James Dent

Hello kids! James wants to apologize to you for not posting this last week, but he’s too busy with midterm related shenanigans. I managed to make him sit still for a couple of minutes and answer some burning questions you all have.

State your name for the court.

James Dent

And are you currently employed, Mr. Dent?

Well, I’m a graduate student. Does that count?

Not really. And what do you do around here?

I’m the poetry editor, and I’m you know, supposed to be running the blog, but I’ve been slacking off in that area lately. Sorry, boss.

You’re forgiven. And why did you want to work for Basement Stories?

Well, like you, I’ve worked for magazines before, mostly reading poetry though I’ve also read for fiction, and I find it frustrating that obtuse, overly technical, ultimately substance less poems are usually the ones that make it into literary magazines. Like, I read an issue of Poetry Magazine once, which is supposed to publish the best poetry out there, and there was a poem that was just the first sentence of Otto Plath’s (Sylvia Plath’s father) book about bees, and then  some statement about Otto’s relationship to Sylvia. It was idiotic – it didn’t say anything new about either Otto Plath or Sylvia Plath, it didn’t have any kind of overarching message or storyline. I see much too much of that, and I want to publish poetry that is both well crafted and attempts to say something, that’s not just a loosely group set of words.

What’s your favorite kind of poetry?

I don’t really have a favorite kind. I enjoy long form poetry, poems that tell stories, epic poems like Beowulf or the Odyssey. However, I also enjoy really quick little poems. My favorite Robert Frost poem is actually only four lines long, and the poet that really got me into poetry was Sylvia Plath, because she’s so readable, and her poems so brief and accessible.

And who are your favorite poets?

Alexander Pushkin, who’s basically the Russian equivalent of Shakespeare, Rainer Maria Rilke, Homer, Anne Sexton. I have a soft spot for Emily Dickenson, but then again, who doesn’t?

What about fiction – who do you like to read?

Michael Chabon, Markus Zusak, Neil Gaiman, Vladimir Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, etc. I could probably sit here all day listing people off. I’ve ended up reading a lot of short fiction right now, too, which has been fun. If anyone has any recommendations for good short fiction anthologies, science fiction and fantasy or not, I’d be more than happy to hear them.

Maybe you could help me out with the fiction submissions!

Yeah, not likely sister. You’re on your own there.

What are you reading right now?

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, and Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. Markus Zusak is one of my favorite authors, even though he’s technically only written young adult literature. But seriously, the man is brilliant.  I love the end of I am the Messenger because it’s so delightfully meta.

Do you like anything besides poetry, or is that about it?

I love anime, which is kind of ridiculous and makes me feel like a twelve year old sometimes. But I grew up watching anime on Cartoon Network, and there’s something entirely freeing about the absolute ridiculousness of some anime series. I’ll spend all day reading ridiculously pretentious books, speaking and writing about them in pretentious ways, and then I’ll go home and watch Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann or Fullmetal Alchemist, and everything is awesome again.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

Hopefully, I’ll be successful enough to just spend all my time writing or being an editor for various fabulous publications. I’d love to just work for magazines for the rest of my life, but that’s not likely. At some point, I’ll probably end up as a teacher, which is a hilarious, if slightly frightening, image.

Anything you want to tell the nice people?

Submit your poetry! I promise I won’t bite, and you never know what I might like. Also, we’d really love to get some more nonfiction queries.

I second on the nonfiction point. Oh man, wouldn’t it be awesome if we got something about anime?

That would be pretty righteous. I long to read academic treatises on anime, science fiction, or fantasy. Send them our way, folks!

That’s all the questions I have for James right now. If you have any, be sure to leave them in the comments.

Remember, we still have our contest running, until June 1st. Send us your stories, and win fabulous amounts of cash!

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