Interview with John Hanson, one of Issue 12’s contest winners

Thanks for taking the time to come to Bop Dead City’s site, first of all. Send your work or buy someone else’s while you’re here.

Issue 13’s coming along swimmingly, as we’ve already gone through a couple hundred submissions from around the world and whittled it down to about 10 pieces so far, but we’ve got room for your poem or story, provided it’s 1) good and 2) in the inbox on September 1 or earlier.

In the meantime, enjoy the start of our interview series with our Issue 12 authors, beginning with John. His story ” Portrait of Jan and Ola in Berlin” got him $20 and probably the accomplishment that will appear on his tombstone.


Describe your writing in 25 words or less.

Swimming through shit to find gold.

Tell us about your contest winning story “Portrait of Jan and Ola in Berlin.”

The story’s about a boy and girl meeting in the great, seedy international metropolis of Berlin. Their brief romance is silhouetted by a world they are completely at odds with; it’s made stronger because of that. It’s kind of Holden-Caulfieldy in a way I suppose, a little more optimistic though.

Is this your first contest win? How did it feel?

It is my first, really unexpected and thrilling.

Who or what inspires you to write?

I remember finishing reading my first Tom Robbins at around midnight, I stayed up until seven writing longhand trying to get down a few words or a sentence that would resemble one of his.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Hermann Hesse, Anaïs Nin, Milan Kundera, pretty much all of the Russians, Clarice Lispector

What are you working on right now?

Destroying my liver. And a satirical novel set in my home city of Melbourne.

Where can we read your work next?

I’ve got a piece coming up in the Eunoia Review and The Zodiac Review.

Do you have any advice for fellow writers?

Bukowski said it best- don’t try. It can’t hurt to indulge all your emotions either.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Thanks again and keep it all up.

We’re now available at Seasick Records!


The very first store where you can buy yourself a copy of Bop Dead City is Seasick Records in Birmingham, Alabama. They’re a pretty awesome record store/cassette store/barber shop (and now can add bookstore, I guess, to those slashes). Fantastic selection of records with a cool motherfucker running the whole thing. You can buy them starting tomorrow for just $3 and save yourself the whole dollar in shipping.

The address, if you’re passing through, is 5508 Crestwood Blvd. Birmingham, AL 35212, or about five minutes from my house. If anyone else has a place they think might want to carry Bop Dead City (Birmingham, Alabama, Michigan, UK where ever), drop me a line.

Issue 13 is open to submissions + other business…

First, let’s get out of the way that you can go ahead and start sending in your stories and poems for the next two months right now.

Next is the matter of our contest theme. Contest pays $20 to each winner, if you need more details, click on the contests tab.

After much deliberation (five minutes or so?), Issue 13’s contest theme is: food. Get creative with this all you want. I came upon the idea when I realized the first poem I ever accepted for Bop Dead City was Jessica Tyner’s “Eating,” which talks about the idea that you can tell how a man is in bed by the way he eats. Sounded about right then, sounds right now. That’s food for thought if you’re hungry for knowledge, and if you are, Bop Dead City’ll give you all you can eat.

But anyway. Good luck to everyone. I’m excited to read all the new and wonderful work that comes my way.

Issue 12 is ready for your dollars!

First, let’s announce the winners of Issue 12’s contest, shall we?




Lee Todd Lacks and John Hanson!

Specifically, Lee won for poetry with “Durgin-Park” and John for his story “Portrait of Jan and Ola in Berlin.” Their issues will have an extra 20 bucks inside.

So who else made it? How about Terry Allen, TJ Beitelman, Ashley Hutson, A.A. Kostas, Rachna Kulshrestha, Doug Mathewson, and Russell Thorburn? Russell was a poet laureate for Christ’s sake, and he didn’t even win the contest.

Next, here’s the cover for Issue 12:


The photo is “Source” by Aurélie Hudelle, an artist from France. For more of her work, visit

And to purchase yourself a copy of the issue, visit our Buy page or click here. As always, three bucks an issue. Buy ten.

Interview with Hannah Frishberg

As we’re wrapping up our interviews with Issue 11’s authors, we’re also wrapping up Issue 12’s submission period. I guess technically we’re closed to submissions, but due to ambiguous wording with ending on July 1 and what with not being the fucking Paris Review, I think anything that slips in today will count. Therefore, submit away until the submissions page says otherwise, slackers.

So here’s Hannah. She submitted just three poems, and two of them, “The Brooklyn Hallelujah” and “Stoop Dreams,” made it into our hallowed, holy pages. It turns out her and I have a lot in common, as you can see. We both love animals and catching dreams, for instance.


Describe your work in 25 words or less.
Young blunt and extreme. But positive. I try to stay positive about everything.
Tell us about your poems “The Brooklyn Hallelujah” and “Stoop Dreams.”
They’re both mostly true. I really dig Brooklyn. I grew up here. Brooklyn stories are much crazier than most, I’ve found. Shit just happens here. Everything changes constantly.
Who or what inspires you to write?
Bukowski’s pretty great, and so is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But mostly I’m inspired by the things I experience. I can’t really write about shit if I haven’t experienced it to some degree.
What are your thoughts on print vs. online publications?
I wish people still read print, but most don’t. I like my work to by as accessible as possible, and often that means putting it online. That said, it’s really beautiful when I get to see my work in print. I like being able to literally hold my words. It’s more measurable, more tangible, more clearly art.
How do you feel about being a writer in New York City? Do you find the community more supportive or competitive?
I love New York. The energy here, it’s addictive. There’s no shortage of things to write about. My community here right now is mainly old friends and random strangers who eventually become old friends, and they’re all very supportive. I like New Yorkers cause they are, for the most part, very driven and slightly crazed. If people are competitive with me, I guess I haven’t noticed.
What are you working on right now?
A book about the Gowanus Batcave! It’s an abandoned powerhouse turned squat that’s now privately owned. I think it’s a great story and one that really speaks to the current state of gentrification in NYC. I’ve interviewed so many people for the project, heard so many wild stories. It’s an incredible space, and I’m scared it’ll be forgotten. I’m tryna immortalize it.
Do you have a website/blog for your work?
Not yet, but I should really get on that.
Where can we read you next?
I have a bimonthly column at CurbedNY called In Focus, where I interview NYC street photographers and feature their work. I also write for DNAInfo New YorkGothamist, Narratively, and Atlas Obscura, among others.
Any advice for your fellow writers?
Make writing a habit, not a routine.

Interview with Robin Reiss

In addition to an interview with the wonderful Ms. Reiss, this is your official five day warning for submissions. Polish ’em up, follow the guidelines, and get them in already.

So, yes, onto Robin.


Describe your work in 25 words or less.
Autobiographical to a fault, trying to channel Plath and Cummings simultaneously. A professor categorized the bulk of my work as “Dead Mom Sad Dad Poems.”

Tell us about your poem “Cutting Board.”
I can’t cook to save my life, so I volunteered to bring a fruit salad to a work potluck. It was taking me forever to cut the strawberries and I was thinking about how awkward a task it was for me, while other people have learned kitchen-sense from a young age or have some cooking gene I lack. This happens every time I’m recruited to help prepare dinner anywhere… I just have no idea what I’m doing. I end up cutting things into dumb shapes and spending five minutes on one tomato or holding the knife a wrong way and having all the mothers (or fathers!) in the room suck in their breath. So that’s how the poem began, and it developed into a Dead Mom Poem from there.

Who or what inspires you to write?
A variety of other poets, of course, and novelists, too. I’ve been plowing through the Game of Thrones books, and even those have lines and images that strike me as very poetic. My boyfriend inspires me to write, too; he encourages me, supports me, and geeks out over great poems with me all the time.

What are your thoughts on print vs. online publications?
I used to have it in my head that print journals seemed more prestigious or more intimate – and there’s still something super satisfying about holding your words in print – but lately I’ve been appreciating how online publications lend themselves to sharing with one’s community and reaching a wider audience.

What are you working on right now?

Getting back into a season of writing, now that the inaugural Duotrope subscription my boyfriend got me for Valentine’s Day has expired and the urge to submit like a fiend is passing.

Do you have a website/blog for your work?

I think you’re mistaking me for someone who knows what she’s doing.

Where can we read you next?

Catch & Release, Winter Tangerine Review, The Lake, Sandy River Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, and Futures Trading!

Any advice for your fellow writers?

I think you’re mistaking me for someone who knows what she’s doing.

Finally, anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks so much for including my poem in Bop Dead City! I tried to find your personal profile on Facebook so I could give you a creepy, ultra-specific personal compliment, but, luckily for you, your privacy settings must be killer.

Interview with Fikret Pajalic

Another writer providing Bop Dead City with international flair, Fikret wows me in two distinctive ways:

1. As far as I know (it’s not like I keep statistics on these things), he’s the most persistent writer to be published in Bop Dead City. “Running with Red” was his fourth try. The previous three were all good, just not right for us. I wouldn’t be surprised if they all got published in superior journals. Maybe I should have asked that….

2. He learned English in his mid-20s. I find it incredible he could lap other writers in the mastery of the English language when many of them had a twenty year or so head start.


Describe your work in 25 words or less.
A fellow writer from my writing group described my writing as a mix between Raymond Carver and Jack London. Most of my stories feature people from the margins and animals, mostly dogs.
Tell us about your story “Running with Red.”

The story is partly based on the real life experience of a refugee I knew who arrived with me to Australia from Bosnia in 1994.

Who or what inspires you to write?

I often deal with my real life fears in my writing. So, I’d say my fears make me write.

What are your thoughts on print vs. online publications?

I think most people prefer to hold a hard copy of their work in their hands. Being published online doesn’t feel as good as being published in print.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve got a few short stories in the works at the moment.

Do you have a website/blog for your work?

No. I’m not on any of social media sites. I’m a bit of a luddite that way.

Where can we read you next?

In the Minnesota Review, Sheepshead Review and Antipodes (all USA) and Sleepers and Bide Journal in Australia.

Any advice for your fellow writers?

If you believe that your writing is good enough to be published you must submit to as many places as you can. It’s like fishing with a net. The wider the net the more chances you have catching a fish.

Finally, anything else you’d like to add?

Persistence pays off.


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