Spy in the Slushpile #8: Santa Clara Review


Spy in the Slushpile #8 Santa Clara Review

Psssst! Over here! 
Notebooking Daily snuck agents into the offices of your favorite literary magazines to bring you—the potential submitter—the sweet low down, the inside track, the full two scoops of raisins. Everything you need to know to make as successful of a submission as possible will be here, but remember that the number one rule to putting your best foot forward is to take the time to read the journal you're submitting to and FOLLOW THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. This is vital to show the editors that you respect their time and effort, and because some journals will reject submissions that don't extend the simple courtesy of following guidelines, without even reading it—and no one wants that.

Today we check in with our spy who was sent to the offices of the literary magazine Santa Clara Review.

Our dossier: 
Santa Clara Review is the student-edited print literary magazine from Santa Clara University. Founded in 1869, Santa Clara Review—formerly known as The Owl and The Redwood—is one of the oldest literary publications in the Western U.S. Published biannually in February and May, they say "At the Review, we promote the literary arts in several spheres: the student and alumni writing community within Santa Clara University, the academic literary community, and the national community of writers outside of SCU." The read no fee submissions via Submittable in poetry, fiction and nonfiction with issue deadlines for each year's issues as follows: Issue One (Fall/Winter): September - November; Issue Two (Spring): January - March; And their response time is up to four months. Their current deadline is 2/19/21 for all genres.


Doing my research I discovered that Santa Clara University's mascot is Bucky the Bronco, and boy was that a convenience! I dressed our spy up in the Notebooking Daily Mustang mascot suit (which happened to have the same color scheme) and crossed my fingers that editor Emma Kuli wouldn't notice it wasn't her beloved Bucky. The transcript follows.

1) I always recommend that potential submitters read their available online archive of recent pieces of a journal before submitting there (at least the genre which they're submitting), but if you could recommend, say three or so pieces (or however many) that you feel especially exemplify for one reason or another, what you're looking for, or that you are especially proud to have published and think everyone, whether they plan on submitting or not, should read? 
TL;DR Pieces that exemplify the journal. 
Distinct, unique tones, themes, and messages emerge from every issue of the Santa Clara Review. However, to get to know what the Review is looking for a little better from Volume 108.1, I encourage writers to look at the voice and characterization in Z.Z. Boone’s short stories, the vulnerability and attention to detail in “Occupation” and “Race Ethnicity and My Face,” and the two punch power of storytelling and precise use of language in Joseph Powerl’s “Prayer” and Kimberly Glanzman’s poems. 

Because Volume 108.1 may not yet have been released when you are reading this interview article, I also wanted to highlight the works from our 2020 Pushcart Prize nominees for potential submitters. Huda Al-Marashi (Volume 107, Issue 1), Tongo Eisen-Martin
(Volume 107, Issue 1), Seyed Morteza Hamidzadeh (Volume 107, Issue 02), Chloe Scheuch (Volume 107, Issue 1), Nefertiti Asanti (Volume 107, Issue 1), Melissa Ballete (Volume 107, Issue 1) stood out as some of the most powerful writers from Volume 107. 
2) Is there any genre, topic, theme or stylistic that you are surprised you don't see more of, or that you would like to see more of? For instance prose poems, stories about organized sports (or one in particular), non-conventional family narratives, non-standard typography, alternate history, high sci-fi, hybrid pieces utilizing white space... 
TL;DR I wouldn't kick these submissions out of bed for eating crackers. (updateable, if the interview results in an unwanted flux of submissions)
We would love to see more short play and screenplay submissions. A play or monologue that is able to pack a powerful punch in a few pages will definitely catch Review staff eyes. Additionally, most pieces we receive have a serious tone, so satire and works with a humorous tone are sure to stand out. We have published some beautiful translation poems and multilingual poems in the past, so we encourage interested bilingual authors to submit poems that stretch beyond the English language. 

3) If you could pick 2-3 pieces of writing that you just love that are already out in the world and somehow have the ability to have discovered it in your slushpile, itching for you to publish them, what would they be? 
TL;DR Wish I could've published that!
Something with the stunning use of language and sound within “Ode to the Beloved’s Hips” by Natalie Diaz would be a dream slushpile discovery. I would also be so excited to find a poem with the powerful storytelling of “Buried” by Patricia Smith among our submissions. We would love to find a story as haunting and witty as Peter Orner’s flash fiction piece “My Dead” in our submission pile. 
4) To your tastes, how would you describe the sort of "experimental" writing you seek? The idea of categorizing experimental or avant-garde writing is very slippery, as it means different things to different people, and it can even change over time from the same person's perspective. So in this moment, allowing that tomorrow you may feel differently and we won't hold you to it, what are you looking for in experimental writing? Is there a 'soft line' where it begins to lose meaning or goes too far (say, where you think the author/artist's intentions are subverted or hurt by the radical level of experimentation—of course allowing exceptions, we're not issuing challenges here), or perhaps a 1-10 scale with 10 fully embracing the avant-garde and 1 wanting no part of it at all. 
TL;DR The journal's place on the spectrum of 'experimental'.
We evaluate works based on not only craft, but also on what the piece does that is novel and unique. Therefore we welcome works that challenge the cannon’s restrictive standards, and this includes writing which takes experimental risks with structure or story. 
5) If you could speak directly to a potential submitter as a voice in their head, like their 'submission conscience', neither angel nor devil but bookish nerd that wants the person to have the best chance with their submission as possible, what would you want them to be sure to do or consider when submitting? 
TL;DR Please consider this when submitting.
Because our magazine is generally around 100 pages, it is important for writers to consider how their work would fit within a literary magazine. We have and we will publish pieces that go right up to our 5,000 word limit, but because space is limited and precious, we encourage you to send us both your long essay and flash fiction!

Additionally, we also encourage writers to use their unique perspective and experience to their advantage in their writing. Beyond just writing what you know, write in a way that shows the attention you have paid to the details of life. Even in writing that crafts a fantastical realm with little in common with the author’s world, attentive specificity will ground the reader (and our editors) in the written world you are creating. 

6) What three things/aspects/characteristics on the writing level would you say are especially effective or prominent in most ideal submissions?  
Ideal submissions stand out because they take risks. This might mean that a piece has very distinctive characters or really unique wordplay or language. Often, the poetry and prose we accept in one way or another encompasses a lofty, abstract idea in a small, tangible image or surrounds the reader with a  focus on something seemingly insignificant and otherwise overlooked.  
7) I want a submission to make me _____. Rank the following into three tiers: 1) most important, 2) somewhat important, 3) a nice addition/indifferent. 

Cry, Laugh, Think, Relate to it, Reread it for nuance, Ruminate on the message, Read it aloud (so I can better appreciate its sound), ______ (something of your own).
We ask different things of different works, but writing’s ability to make the reader feel something–whether they laugh or cry or lie on the kitchen floor in deep reflective thought after reading it–is very important, because it shows how the writing has transcended being simply words on a page. A crying or laughing or thinking reader has formed a new relationship with the work. Whether a work contains nuances that are only understood upon a second read is somewhat important, because it demonstrates the skillful writing and attention to detail we are looking for. However, because we want to consider readers that may not reread a piece, it is essential that even layered works can be enjoyed (even if not fully understood) on their first read. It is exciting to see powerful messages behind beautiful works, but it is not mandatory that there is a clear moral to your story. 

Unfortunately when we first constructed our mustang mascot suit we hadn't expected a spy to make the drive from San Diego to Santa Clara (I told him not to wear the head the whole way) and our Mustang had to take a little nap at this point. Because not every journal will be quite so accommodating we'll keep reporting back from the various assignments of our Spy in the Slushpile.