Interview with Issue 17’s Joel Coltharp

Below is the first in our series of interviews with the contributors to Issue 17. To read Joel’s poem “Dropped” and more just as awesome, click here and buy a copy of Issue 17. Keep checking back; I’ll be posting the interviews as they roll in.
Describe your writing in 25 words or less.
My writing seeks to honestly portray people living along the margins of society, finding patterns among the circumstances and forces that landed them there.
Tell me about your poem “Dropped.”
This is a poem that I worked on for quite some time before it finally took shape, and it is probably the most difficult poem I’ve
ever written. It’s based on an incident many years ago that, upon considerable reflection, came to symbolize my growing
disillusionment with man’s many attempts to create higher powers of varying natures, as dramatic as that sounds.
Who or what inspires you to write?
On one hand, I am inspired to write as a way of communicating with authors whose work I most admire, from Dorothy Allison
to Junot Diaz to Philip Levine. On the other hand, I am driven to continue writing because I have not yet found anyone else
telling the exact stories that I want to tell, and I hope to fill that void.
You’re the fiction editor for Moon City Review. How did you get involved with them? What’s your selection process like?
I started as an assistant editor for Moon City Review as a graduate student at Missouri State University. I loved working on the editing and publishing side, and I invested much time and energy into the journal, so when I graduated I was asked to stay on as Fiction Editor, a position I happily accepted. As an editor, I am most drawn to stories with strong voices, whose keen psychological insight into their own characters’ motivations finds new ways to explore the human condition. Simply put, I look for interesting characters doing interesting things and having interesting things to say about them.
What are you working on now?
Currently, I am trying to form a collection out of my longer stories, something in the tradition of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio or even Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff, in that all of the stories are united by place and theme. In the meantime, my newer stories find me delving into shorter forms, exploring flash fiction in all its diversity and experimentation.
Otherwise, I am turning more and more of my attention to poetry and nonfiction, finding them increasingly useful for saying the things that I can’t say through my fiction.
Is there a website/blog where we can keep up with your work?
I do not currently maintain a website, but I have recently discovered the value of such a thing, and one is likely to appear in the very near future.
Any advice for your fellow writers?
My main advice, beyond the well-worn suggestions to just write and read as much as possible, is do whatever you can to tap into the amazing community of writers that exists throughout the world. Technology has made it possible for us to share our work in so many ways, and extensive exposure to others’ writing will only broaden and refine your abilities. Get out of your comfort zone, move beyond your immediate influences, and seek new resources and connections that expand your understanding of the writing and publishing worlds.

Issue 17 is on sale today!

Phew! What a couple of weeks. Between getting laid up with some basement dweller’s bacterium finding its way into my lungs and having to pour out my 40oz for my longtime right hand, my Chromebook, it’s been a trying time getting this issue together. BUT it has all been worth it.

First, as always, the cover (click the image to buy one of these handsome issues):


This lil’ treasure, titled “Leica 59,” is courtesy of Jess Golden, a street photographer from Seattle, Washington. To see more of his fantastic and absolutely vast body of work (about twenty of his photos would have been just as perfect), visit

Now, onto the amazing writers I found while sifting through two months of submissions. It’s a poetry heavy issue, y’all. I’ve subtly noted the contest winners:

Kaz Sussman — “In Retrospect” ***CONTEST WINNER***

Preeti Talwai — “Skin,” “Someone,” and “Home”

Nancy Iannucci — “Traffic”

Joel Coltharp — “Dropped”

Jennifer Woodworth — “Three Fortunes”

Ava C. Cipri — “The Monstrous Thing”

Daniel Tobin — “Atlanta Strikeout” and “Tutorial”

Gregory Sherl — “(Ah)”

Allyson Whipple — “Bar Joke” and “Hawks Don’t Circle”

Terri Kirby Erikson — “My Cousin, Milton”

And the stories:

Liz Grear — “The Insides of My Elbows” ***CONTEST WINNER***

Jennifer Woodworth — “The Orange Tattoo”


Winners, as always, get $20 ‘Murican dollars, and everyone gets a copy of the issue. Hey, you want a copy of the issue, right? Click here and get yourself the literary magazine that features the 1st – 10th runners up for the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature!  I mean, unless Trump gets elected and sends our economy into a death spiral, you can swing the three bucks. Thanks again to everyone who submit their work and to those who make me feel like a big shot by letting my publish their stuff. I WILL be doing author interviews over the next few weeks, so keep checking back here!

Issue 17 is in the books!

I mean, not literally, but I have started laying it out, so there’s that. However, we are closed to submissions until November 1. I really appreciate everyone who submit the contents of their soul in poem and story from, and then let me judge them as human beings based on this evidence.

Seriously though, thanks to everyone who send something in, especially the good ones. I’ll be back shortly to announce the contributors, the contest winners, and as soon as I find some, the cover art.


Issue 17 is open to submissions!

My brief, one month respite is over, and I’m already drowning in amazing work from you all. We’ll be open to submissions until October 1, so no rush, but I grab stuff I like as it comes in, so eventually there might not be room for you… I’m just saying.

The contest this go around is themed apologies. Learn more on the Contests page.

Good luck to everyone!

All You Need to Know About Issue 16

First, click here to get your very own copy of Issue 16.

$3 and a buck to ship, as always. You could save yourself a bit of cash and buy a subscription, however…


Next, please let me introduce our contributing authors:


Reed Redmond — “Dorian Orange”

Sarah Frances Moran — “El Barril (The Barrel)”

Allison Thorpe — “Rosalind Franklin Haunts Bed Bath and Beyond”

Natalie Homer — “Stepsisters Always Have Beautiful Names”

Eric Cline — “When The Straight Kids First Suspected We Were Different”

Ariane Sandford — “Xs For Eyes”

Ariane Sandford — this sunrise presented on a silver platter by a curly headed god, so hot and fresh you can see the steam still rising up, up into the air



E. Amato — “Like Some Tom Waits Song or Something”

Jane Hertenstein — “City of Light”

Gregory Wolos — “Tornado Baby”

Rachel Cohen — “An Old Score”


And of course, the contest winners are:

Reed Redmond — “Dorian Orange”


E. Amato — “Like Some Tom Waits Song or Something”


Congratulations to those two! As always, they’ll be getting $20 slipped into their copies. I have to admit: the flash contests are my favorite. God do I love a concise, taut piece of work.

Annnnnd last but not least, here’s the cover:




The cover photo is titled “Pistol” and the photographer, Charles Rammelkamp, is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives, and edits The Potomac, an online literary journal His photographs, poetry and fiction have appeared in many literary journals. His latest book is a collection of poems called Mata Hari: Eye of the Day (Apprentice House, Loyola University), and another poetry collection, American Zeitgeist, is forthcoming from Apprentice House later this year.


Charles adds that “The girl in the “Pistol” is Rammelkamp’s daughter Anna, who is now 28 and has a daughter of her own. The T-shirt Anna is wearing belonged to her mother when she was younger than Anna and the Sex Pistols were a thing. God save the queen….”


Phew! Thanks to everyone for their help getting this issue together.




Issue 16 is closed to submissions!

Thank you to everyone who offered up their work over the past two months. It was probably the briskest business we’ve done so far. It’s gonna be a big, big issue by the looks of it, and I’m sad it couldn’t be bigger. The holiday and my general laziness should slow things down a bit, but check back in about a week, when we’ll announce the winners of the contest and give a preview of the cover art.

Interview with Robert Lee Kendrick

Next up we’ve got Robert Lee Kendrick, a fantastic poet down in (or up in, if you’re with me in Alabama, in which case, holler at your boy) South Carolina. Funny story: I wanted to publish both “Detour” and another poem of his, “Salvage Yard,” but
somebody scooped me. Teach me to wait two days.
Point is, I can vouch for all his poetry being as awesome as “Detour,” so I guarantee that Robert’s new chapbook Winter Skin will be worth picking up.
Robert Lee Kendrick photo.jpg
The interview:
Describe your writing in 25 words or less.
I hope it’s direct, clear, and hits something that’s worth the reader’s time.
Tell us about your poem “Detour.”
A young man I didn’t know well, but whom I saw and spoke to almost daily, died a couple of years ago on a road I drive every afternoon. It’s a persona poem, and one of several about this speaker and “Chris.” There’s another road I go down each day that floods when we get heavy rain. The image of the sunken road intersected with the memory of “Chris,” and the poem got going.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Place does it for me. The roads, creeks, and lakes of Pickens County, South Carolina, and the fields and towns of central Illinois where I grew up. I see so much road kill that I get a lot from decay and rot, as well — that’s been a big thing for about six months. Natural decay is a miracle, the biological process that nature uses to heal and renew itself. There’s no unfinished business, and I don’t know that humans can do that with loss, even with rituals, therapy, art, whatever.
Who do you consider your biggest influences?
I didn’t start writing until I was 46, but the poets I discovered in my late teens and early twenties are the ones I still go to now for study and inspiration — Richard Hugo, James Wright, Jack Gilbert, Jim Daniels. I’ve been studying with William Wright, who is a terrific poet and teacher, and he’s really shaped how I read and write.
Do you have a blog/website for your writing?
No. I probably should, but I don’t know how to code. I should get off my ass and learn.
What are you currently working on?
I read and write every day — even if there’s no vibe there, it’s still work on craft. I got a late start, and I’m pretty driven — I think that comes from having been an athlete for 35 years — way too long. Consistent, daily practice is what develops whatever ability you have. Right now, I’m reading Merlau-Ponty’s The Phenomenology of Perception, Judith Hemschemeyer’s translations of Akhmatova, Louise Gluck’s first four books, and Etheridge Knight. Merlau-Ponty is daily, the others are in rotation for a couple of weeks. Read for an hour, hour and a half, then write. Writing? Road kill, rocks, streams, trees, buzzards, rock n’ roll, trucks & cars & hourly jobs. That’s where the stuff always goes.
Where can we read your work next?
My chapbook, Winter Skin, has just come out from Main Street Rag Publishing. There are poems that will be in Louisiana Literature,Main Street Rag, Kentucky Review, Chiron Review, I-70 Review, and Steel Toe Review in the next few months. I’m pumped about Steel Toe Review. I like what they’ve got going, and all my extended family is originally from Birmingham.
You live in Clemson, but went to the University of South Carolina. Gamecocks or Tigers?
Oh man. Neither. I am a stranger in a strange land. I came down to South Carolina to get a Ph.D. in Eighteenth Century British Lit and Critical Theory, and the main thing I got out of the degree was learning that I didn’t know what I was going to do, but it wasn’t going to be teaching in college. I kind of bounced around doing the same kinds of jobs I did before college for a few years, and then I ended up teaching high school, which I’m happy with. I still live here and I love the landscape. But I don’t really like football, and my heart is still with my Iowa Hawkeyes. Basketball season is year-round, in my mind.
Any advice for your fellow writers?
Read. Read some more. Make a lot of mistakes. Try to find someone a lot better than you who gets where you are heading (although you may not know it yet), and helps you see what’s good, and what sucks, about your work. Then work & work & work & work.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Bop Dead City is a badass name. You nailed it.