Tag Archives: issue 4

News and One Last Interview with Karrie Waarala


Another fine submission period is over with, and now I start the arduous task of deciding the contest winners and putting the issue together (which, due to a computer failure and my distrust of cloud computing, will have to be done from scratch).  So, hold your submissions until November 1, and start saving up your pennies for this issue. I figure it’ll be out in a week, but we’ll see how my work/play balance works out.

Regardless, thanks to everyone who submit their poems and fiction and especially art, which came in spades this time around. Every time I’m down on this whole thing (usually after reading a poem about the environment with rhyming couplets), I get a submission that makes it all worth it.


Late but never unwanted, we’ve got our last interviewee from Issue 4, Karrie Waalara, who gave us her poem “Reunion” to publish.



Describe your work in 25 words or less.
Tiny snapshots of life (some mine), mostly disguised as persona or how-to.

Tell me about your poem “Reunion.”

“Reunion” is one of the rare poems of late that doesn’t fall into either of the two categories above. It’s just the snapshot, no disguise, of that bittersweet moment when a former love finally truly becomes a friend. It’s easy to say, “Oh, sure, we stayed friends after we broke up” — but in reality it can take a circuitous route to get there.
What or who inspires you to write?
Almost any little glimpse of life can make me want to write. I keep those moments filed away in notebooks or in the back of my brain until they find the right poem. As far as actually sitting down to do the writing… lots of other things I “should” be doing can make writing irresistible. Villanelles are more fun than cleaning the garage or giving the dog a bath.

What authors have influenced you as a writer?
I was just telling one of my creative writing classes that when I look back at my early writing, I can tell exactly whose work I was reading at the time. All of that young, eager imitation. I hope that the influence isn’t as transparent now… but the long list would include writers like Anne Sexton, Marge Piercy, Lucille Clifton, Patricia Smith, Thomas Lynch, Sandra Beasley, Sandra Cisneros…

Do you have a blog/website?
I’m online at www.poetrysideshow.com.
What are you working on right now?
I seem to be at one of those in-between times lately in which the new ideas are percolating. Those can go on for months for me before the work comes pouring out. I’ve been using the time to focus on revising my manuscript of circus persona poems and trying to find it a good home.

Any advice for other writers?
Read. Read, read, read. And then read some more. It’s impossible to be a writer without being a reader.

Interview with Kevin Ridgeway

Well, while the submission pour in for Issue 5, let’s hear from one of the contributors to Issue 4. Kevin Ridgeway, who gave us the poem “My Biggest Crush.”


Describe your work in 25 words or less.

Fly-on-the-wall stories of everyday debauchery, guilt and redemption.  Self-deprecating and humorous when necessary and rather strange at times.  My little daydreams…

Tell me about your poem “My Biggest Crush.”

I wrote that poem from the memory of a photograph of my ex-wife in high school.  I imagined what her world must have been like in those days based on what she had told me and what was evident in the photograph itself.  It’s my little tribute to her, even though our romance is long over.

What or who inspires you to write?

I’ve been writing ever since I could pick up a pencil or even a crayon, when I was very young.  I must write.  I don’t have to attempt to publish, but I must write to express the writing on the walls of my mind.  I choose to publish, which I have found very rewarding.  Even if I stop publishing, I will never stop writing.

What authors have influenced you as a writer?

Early on:  Kurt Vonnegut, Carson McCullers, Allen Ginsberg, Walt Whitman, John Fante, Bukowski and Dorothy Parker.  Contemporary authors who inspire me include Gerald Locklin, Bill Gainer and Clint Margrave, among many others.

Do you have a blog/website?

I did have a blog, which is sort of lying dormant right now.  I intend to build a website with my credits, archives and literary loves in the near future, if I can stop procrastinating.

What are you working on right now?

I will soon be promoting a couple of chapbooks of my poems:  All the Rage from Electric Windmill Press and Contents Under Pressure from Crisis Chronicles Press.  I’ve begun assembling poems for a full-length collection, which I am sure will take some time.  Other than that, I am always writing, especially my little poems.

Any advice for other writers?

Read a lot, work on the craft of writing a lot.  Don’t give up because of rejections.  There’s a lot of that, but there is also a lot of acceptance to be had, too.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I’m basically a creative clown who throws words together with the hope that they stick in the mind of the reader.  If I even manage to entertain, I think I’ve done my job.  Oh, and:  Life is short.  Do what you love.

Interview with Brianne Kohl

Our first interview for this issue comes from Brianne Kohl, who won our latest fiction contest with her story “Her Feminine Circumstance.”


Describe your work in 25 words or less.

Typically dark, although unintentionally. I try to be honest and let the story speak for itself. My brain has a lot of shadows, I suppose.


Tell me about your story “Her Feminine Circumstance.”

Well, it started from a four paragraph writing prompt which is really challenging. I do like writing flash fiction but holding yourself to a strict length means you can only use essential words to tell the story. Only the barest of bones. It forces you to trust the reader – they will get it without you over explaining (which is something I have a tendency to do. In my first drafts, I tend to panic at the end and explain everything like an episode of Scoobie Doo. So, I almost always cut out my last paragraph in revision). In this case, I wanted to explore the connection between the power of femininity and nature.


How does it feel to win the contest? Is it your first time?

This is my first time! And, it feels amazing! I’ve been a writer for a long time but I’ve really just started submitting my work a few months ago. Sharing my writing is a brand new experience for me. I get a ton of rejections and I’ve had some successes (like this one) that have really pumped me up.


Where did you hear about the contest?

I learned of your contest through Duotrope’s email newsletter – Upcoming Themed Deadlines section. I like themes because I’m always looking for some writing prompt that gets me excited. I recommend www.duotrope.com to any writer interested in submitting their work for publication.


What or who inspires you to write?

I take a lot of inspiration from nature and really try to focus on the cultural ecology of a story. Sometimes, a word or phrase will ping in my head and I’ll want to explore it. I try not to focus too much on plot because I’ll overwhelm myself so I’ll think of a situation and write my way out of it. Nothing is more inspiring than knowing when a story comes together and its tight and clean.


What authors have influenced you as a writer?

So many – Reading Joyce Carol Oates’s “Black Water” was the first time I realized how powerful fiction could be. I love Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Margaret Atwood, Gillian Flynn and Jeffrey Euginedes. I love Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. I really admire funny writers like Christopher Moore and Jasper Fforde. I’m sort of all over the place with my reading.


Do you have a blog/website?

Why, yes!

Yes, I do! www.briannekohl.com

Please come visit me!


What are you working on right now?

I’m in a fabulous writing class so I have weekly assignments which really keep me hopping. But, I love it because if I were left to my own devices, I’d tinker until it broke. Getting feedback and being in a workshop with other writers that are really good keeps me inspired. Having a deadline keeps me motivated. And, the more I write, the better I feel I am at it.


Any advice for other writers?

Be serious about it, if it is something you really love to do. But, don’t take yourself too seriously. Readers want to read so have some faith. Being a writer and submitting your work can feel like a thankless job, sometimes. Rejections hurt (Seven rejections in a row will make you want to only wear black and talk about your feelings with EVERYONE. Three in one day? Straight to bed. Trust me on that). But, the only way to get better is to keep doing it. You will eventually gain some traction and when that happens, it is the best feeling in the world.

And, believe it or not, sometimes a rejection is a good thing. I’ve gotten a little excited (read: drunk) and submitted things before their time. And, of course, they get rejected. But, then, I’ve gone back and fixed the things that weren’t working. I’m usually much happier if I give a story time to mature. That’s when my work has been accepted – when I give my story the time and work it needs.


Anything else you’d like to say?

Thanks for reading. 

Issue 4 is now available to purchase!

Well, after some delay, the latest issue of Bop Dead City has hit non-existent newsstands,but can still be purchased here on the site. We’ve got poetry by Sandy Hiortdahl, Kevin Ridgeway, K. Wardman, Karrie Waarala, Mitchell Grabois, and Sally Burnette, with fiction by Brianne Kohl and Z.Z. Boone. The cover art is “Droplets” by Mark Guider…


I’d like to thank him for bailing me out of a cover art disaster with his lovely photo. Send in more art next time, you heathens.

Please buy a copy; it’s our biggest issue yet, literally. And stay tuned to this site for interviews with the authors of this issue.

Sorry, I’m having trouble with the envelope…

Oh, there it is. We’ve finished judging the submissions and we’ve picked the winners. For poetry, Sandy Hiortdahl won with “August Vortex,” and for fiction, Brianne Kohl won with “Her Feminine Circumstance.”

Thanks to everyone for their submissions over the past two months. The issue will be available for purchase sometime next week. Feel free to buy one or twelve. 

This Issue’s Contest: Summer

Our last contest was such a success that I wanted to make contests a regular thing for Bop Dead City. The last contest was for flash fiction and poetry to recognize our ranking as one of the fastest responding publications, according to Duotrope (if you’re not a member, just trust me when I say we’re quick), but I didn’t want to repeat myself. So, I needed a theme.

The first story I ever got published was set during the summer. Specifically, it’s set on a summer night in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire, where I’m from. The season lends itself to sensuality, for one: the smell of sweat, the taste of saltwater, the way chlorinated water burns in your eyes. When many of us were kids, it was also a long stretch of unstructured free time, which seemed to lend itself to experiences both good and bad. For example, my first kiss was in the summertime, and my first (only, promise) arrest was in the summer too.

So there it was. I figured summer was something we’d all experienced in similar but different ways, and everyone had a story to tell about it. Not to mention, the issue’s going to come out in at the beginning of the worst part of summer, so the timing was nice as well.

Obviously, we’re still looking for the best fiction and poetry out there even if it isn’t about summer. Last round, we published lots of stuff that wouldn’t have qualified for the contest, and I’m sure this issue will be the same.

BUT if you’re interested there’ll be two prizes, one for fiction and one for poetry. The submission guidelines are the same as for any other submission, it just has to be about summer in some way: summer as the setting, summer as a subject, even Summer as a character’s name (or if you want to get way out there, the personification of summer as an actual character is an option).  Twenty bucks to the winner of the fiction category, and twenty bucks to the winner of the poetry category, just like last time. The deadline for the contest is the same as the general deadline: July 1. Just mention in the body of the email that you’d like to have your story/poem(s) considered for the contest.

As the saying goes, a life without love is like a year without summer, and who the hell wants that?