Tag Archives: issue 7

Battle “First Time” is OV-AH! … And We’ve Been Critiqued!

Or at least that’s what I think they say on the old Iron Chef. Anyway, thanks to everyone for your submissions; you can stop now, at least for another thirty days. We’ll be updating here regarding Issue 8, including authors, contest winners, cover art, and when you can buy your copy.

In the meantime, Bop Dead City’s last issue was recently reviewed on NewPages.com, a lovely site that offers a virtual newsstand of literary journals like us, reviews, and calls for submissions. Melanie Tague had many nice things to say, mostly about poems and stories themselves, which is the way it should be. Mostly she calls us humble a lot, which is true and a very beautiful way of saying “shoddily produced by an amateur.” Ruben Rodriguez and Nancy Hightower get specific shoutouts for their work. Read all about it here: http://www.newpages.com/literary-magazine-reviews/2014-06-16/#Bop-Dead-City-I7-Spring-2014

Interview with Sarah Ann Winn

Sarah Ann Winn won our 2nd Annual Flash Poetry Contest with her poem “Sargasso Sea,” got published, and pocketed $20. You want twenty whole dollars too, and the dubious honor of publication in Bop Dead City? You’ve got less than a week to submit your best story or poem about the first time you…well, anything.

Hurry up.

Describe your work in 25 words or less.
I think my poems are all a variety of being carried away with an idea, usually in the direction of “what could be.”

Tell me about your poem “Sargasso Sea.”
“Sargasso Sea” is the result of a prompt I was given in a class that required us to write 79 poems in a semester. This prompt gave the title, and suggested it be a certain number of lines. (I’ve since forgotten the full constraint.) I’d been doing a lot of reading about the plant life in the ocean, and that one struck me as full of mythic potential. I wanted to write a poem that used the ocean references in a fresh way, hoping for a sort of image echo between the massive drift of weeds and a field of grazing horses on a cloudless day.

Is this your first time winning a writing contest? How does it feel?
The same day I won this contest, I received notice that I’d won the Virginia Downs Poetry contest, and I’d never won a writing contest before. I was awarded the Completion Fellowship at George Mason for my final year there, but an individual work being recognized feels much more affirming!

What or who inspires you to write?
I’ve always loved to write, and have a daily routine to keep the inspiration close at hand. I also read widely, and when I start to struggle for inspiration, I grab my camera and go for a drive. Something about the somewhat mindless activity of driving combined with the search for something to frame pulls the poems a little closer. I find a lot of inspiration in conversations with my husband, who watches a lot of news stories. He always has something strange to share that gets me scribbling.

What authors have influenced you as a writer?
Elizabeth Bishop, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Federico Garcia Lorca, Marge Piercy, Margaret Atwood, Rebecca Solnit, Natalie Goldberg, E.B. White, Mark Doty – the list is enormous. I have always loved to read, and as a children’s librarian, I return to the ones I loved growing up, so they continue to shape my writing now. Of course the authors who have had the most direct hand in shaping me as a writer are my teachers. Their encouragement and guidance have shaped my poems and my poetics, particularly Jennifer Atkinson, Eric Pankey and Judyth Hill.

Do you have a blog/website?
I do! I post writing prompts and photos about once a month at bluebirdwords.com.

Where can we read you next?
My poem “The Horsehead Nebula” is in the current issue of Stirring. I have a particular fondness for this one, because it was written right after “Sargasso Sea,” and uses the form of a beautiful in-law (which requires every word in the poem to come from the letters in the title). I also have upcoming poems in [d]ecember and the Massachusetts Review.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on poems which I hope will become my second book. They’re inspired by my love of children’s literature, especially stories I read as a child. My manuscript, entitled “Variable Stars” is submitted all around the web, and I have high hopes that it’ll get picked up.

Any advice for other writers?
Don’t take rejection personally, and read as much as you can! Also, if you don’t already have one, find a group online or offline who will be with you in your submission highs and lows. I’m part of a great group on Facebook, who cheer me on, and boo and hiss at Tuesday (rejection day).

Anything else you’d like to say?
Thank you for the opportunity, and I’m happy to have had the thrill of my first contest winner with Bop Dead City!

Interview with Ruben Rodriguez

Time for another interview, if only to prove to readers and issue buyers that I don’t always slack. We’re talking with Ruben Rodriguez, winner of Issue 7’s Flash Fiction Contest, and it wasn’t even close this time around. An unmentioned fact is that in lieu of prize money cash, he wanted to be paid in issues. Such a darling.

Also, full disclosure, we are related. (This joke plays better if you know my last name and can see how pale, pale, pale I am). Well, somewhere down the line we are, but then again, aren’t all of us? Anyway, here he is.


Describe your work in 25 words or less.

Focused. Leaping.

Tell me about your story “Inheritance.”

I wanted to see how much of a relationship I could build over a short stretch of page. The subject matter is a bit gruesome, but I wrote it, so I guess that’s my fault. I was thinking about the extremes of thrift and burning the end of a rope. One thing led to another and I had ended up with a corpse on my hands. The final image is a personal favorite. It’s the only one in the story I can say is in any way autobiographical. I really wanted to give the reader the notion of closure. I don’t know if that comes across, but let’s pretend that it does, and I’ll concede that we are talking about an itty-bitty door.

Is this your first time winning a writing contest? How does it feel?

This is not the first contest I have one, but it is the first time that the prize included publication.

I’m stoked. It’s cool to show people you name in print. It’s the final validation for a story. Someone else in the world has said, Yes, people should read this. And that’s always nice.

What or who inspires you to write?

I do it because I have a good relationship with my subconscious. I like it and its indifferent about me. I’m always curious as to what I’ll write. I try not to give it too much thought. This is not to say I’m driving blindly through a corn maze, but I have been part of a backyard-corn-maze-project and I am a terrible driver with worse vision. I think it is important for people to be in the business of creating, not for any monetary gain, but for the opportunity to increase their humanity.

What authors have influenced you as a writer?

This question makes me sit funny in my chair. No Direction Home turned me on to Ginsberg, who led to Kerouac. The two pushed Burroughs, and though I wouldn’t call my style of writing Beatifik, Burroughs’s epigraph in Cities of the Red Night “Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted” is the basis on which I write my stories. Vonnegut lights up my brain. Ron Arias’s The Road to Tamazunchale stirred something in me recently. Aimee Bender blows my socks off, but I’m extremely jealous of her ability, so let’s not talk about that. There are others with stranger and some what impossible to follow connections, but I’d hate to bore everyone.

Do you have a blog/website?


Where can we read you next?

I have stories coming out in The Sand Canyon Review and Badlands. If you really got a hankering Black Heart Magazine and theNewerYork have a few of my stories in their online archives.

What are you working on right now?

Too much. The heart of it is a collection of short stories. They explore the absurdist/surreal quadrants of my brain. I’m inclined to drive myself to utter madness over the summer and dive into a longer project, but let’s keep that labeled as speculative for the time being. I am also excited to start work on The Great American Literary Magazine, a new online journal. Check it out.


Any advice for other writers?

It only happens if you do it.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I saw some people hang-gliding today. I saw someone work a cleaver. And I listed to some Nina Simone. I also broke my comb.

Interview with Tom Weller

Our latest interview is with the writer Tom Weller, who contributed the story “Lightning Woman” to our last issue.  To read it and lots of other great, important works that will keep you up with the zeitgeist, buy a copy of Issue 7.

 author pic


Describe your work in 25 words or less.

Whimsy, meet despair,   Despair, meet whimsy.  Now dance.


Tell me about your story “Lightning Woman.”

Years ago I read interviews with novelist Harry Crews in which he described how while growing up poor in the South the Sears catalogue was one of his greatest sources of entertainment. He would flip through the catalogue creating characters out the models, complete with dark secrets hiding under their shiny veneers, and create stories by imagining these characters interacting.  I now do this with strangers’ Facebook pages.

“Lightning Woman” started when I found pictures of a dog’s birthday cake on Facebook.  The story pretty much took off from there, fueled by a desire to experiment with fabulist and fairy tale elements.

What or who inspires you to write?

Lots of things. Old pictures and advertisements from circuses and sideshows. Dear Abby letters. Peanuts comic strips. Fragments of conversations I hear while eavesdropping. Pro wrestling shows, especially from the late 80s. Extended and surprising metaphors and similes in hip hop lyrics. I also spend a lot of longish runs thinking about and refining drafts of stories.


What authors have influenced you as a writer?

Many of the superstars: Flannery O’Connor, Raymod Carver, Tobias Wolfe, Sherman Alexie, Stuart  Dybeck, Gabriel Garcia Márquez.  Lewis Nordan’s Welcome to the Arrow-Catcher Fair was the first short story collection I ever loved.  I reread Junot Diaz’s Drown every couple of years.  Aimee Bender short stories always surprise me in good ways.


Do you have a blog/website?

I don’t have a website or blog, but anybody who is really curious can find me on Facebook and we can become weird internet friends. That’s a good way to get updates on my publications and writing projects, and to know every time I’ve gone for a run, and see pictures of my dog.


Where can we read you next?

My short story “Mrs. Cinnamon” recently went up at Paper Darts.  My short story “Ponko Returns” is forthcoming in Phantom Drift.


What are you working on right now?

A series of stories inspired by entries in old editions of The Guinness Book of World Records.

Interview with Rhiannon Thorne

It’s the time of the season for interviews, and they should be trickling in fairly steady now. In the meantime, keep up the submissions, people: at this rate Issue 8’s going to be double sized.

Our first interview is with Rhiannon Thorne, who gave us two poems for Issue 7: “We Clutched Each Other Giddily” and “Small Hands.” As you can tell from her picture, she likes beer.

A lot.


Describe your work in 25 words or less.

Mostly autobiographical and stylistically eclectic.

Tell me about your poems “We Clutched Each Other Giddily” and “Small Hands.”

Long story short, Kate Hammerich and I met on the internet, then later in person. “We Clutched Each Other Giddily” chronicles our first in-person meet-up, when I was the shy hobbyist and she the published poet, whereas “Small Hands” comes much later, during her first great illness, when I flew to IL to spend a weekend singing her Shakira. These are both happier moments plucked from a rocky couple of years of cancer, incarceration, the distance of state lines, and a slew of other curve-balls.

What or who inspires you to write?

The usual suspects: love, loss, current events, the work of other poets, or you know, the glory. I go through periods of time where I write several poems a day and my inspirations are more arbitrary, and then other times where I write one poem every few months and it’s because of some momentous life event – but rarely do I sit down to write something specific and I certainly can’t pull inspiration out of a random prompt.

What authors have influenced you as a writer?
It’s an extensive list, but off the top of my head: da levy, Maxine Kumin, Anne Sexton, Ted Hughes, and Pablo Neruda. I’m also really influenced by specific publishers, and the feel of the manuscripts they publish, such as: flipped eye publishing, CavanKerry, Toadlilly, Words Dance, Blue Begonia, and Milkweed Editions.

Do you have a blog/website?

rhiannonthorne.com is where you’ll find a list of my publications and the occasional blog, but mostly I use it to track what I’ve been reading. I’m more reachable by email: rhiannon_thorne@live.com.

Where can we read you next?

Existere and Grasslimb should both be coming out soon – Existere is publishing a poem inspired by Anne Sexton, and Grasslimb, one inspired by Ted Hughes. I’ve had other poems appear recently at Up The Staircase, Melancholy Hyperbole, Words Dance, and Foundling Review if you want to find my poems on the net.

What are you working on right now?

I went through a huge writing spurt last year, but so far this year have only written one poem. Mostly, I’ve been editing, a lot. I’ve also been putting more time into the publication (cahoodaloodaling) Kate and I started in 2012, which has been really gratifying. I’m also working on reading through a huge stack of books on my shelf, because I completely agree with what Dan Sicoli said last round of interviews, “for every word you write, read a thousand more.”

Any advice for other writers?

Kill your babies.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Seriously, kill your babies.

Issue 7 is now available to purchase!

You can buy a copy by clicking on the Buy tab above and following the easy, easy instructions, or just click here. Contributors, be on the lookout for your free copy, and feel free to buy one for everyone you know.


Also, since I’m such a slackass, the next submission period starts tomorrow. Jesus. Anyway, while that’s going on we’ll also have interviews from the writers for Issue 7. Thanks for your patience, and good luck!

Issue 7 Update and Contest Winners

Did I say later that week? I meant in three weeks. Whoops.

Anyway, the winners of our flash fiction and poetry contest are Sarah Ann Winn for her poem “Sargasso Sea” and Ruben Rodriguez for his story “Inheritance.” Thanks again to everyone who submit their stories and poems; we’ll be giving you another shot in five days when the submission period for Issue 8 opens up!

And while they didn’t win the contest, we’re excited and, frankly, undeserving to have Rhiannon Thorne, Nancy Hightower, and  Marie Nunalee’s poetry, along with a short story from Tom Weller.

The new issue will be out at the end of the month, so check back here to buy one then.

(thanks for your patience)

Issue 7 is closed to submissions….

Thanks to everyone for their stories and poems. It’s been a blast reading them all, especially these past few days when business really picked up. We’ll be in touch later this week with the winners of the contest and the rest of our wonderful authors for this issue.

Our 2nd Annual Flash Fiction and Poetry Contest is On!

Last year, I decided to do a contest because it seemed like the thing to do. It’s why I still do them, to be honest. I usually pick a theme based on what I want to read about (summer, home, etc), but I’m making it a yearly tradition to celebrate our lightning-fast response times that Duotrope credits us with.

(If you’ve not using Duotrope, you’ve either never heard of it or you’re a cheap bastard. It’s only $5, and an incredibly valuable resource for writers. Just check them out).

Anyway, we’re ranked 18th for fiction at 2.8 days from submission to response (contest entries are ranked 9th at 2.1), and for poetry we’re ranked 7th (contests are 18th at 2.8). So…pretty goddamn fast. Along with a bunch of other goals for the magazine, I want to get all of those back to the top 10. It would help if I wasn’t such a slacker and let things slide for far too long (like announcing this contest, for starters). Here’s the specifics:

Prizes: $20 to the winner of the flash fiction category, and $20 to the winner of the poetry category.

Rules: For fiction, we’ll use Duotrope’s definition of flash fiction as “less than 1,000 words.” For poetry, we’ll use my made-up rule of 50 words or less. Plus, do everything that the usual submission guidelines say. Everything submitted until April 1 that follows these guidelines will be considered for the contest. And of course, even if your work isn’t within these parameters, we’ll still consider it for publication as usual.