Corinne Manning on The James Franco Review
Tell me about the creation of The James Franco Review. When and how and why was it conceived?
A few years ago I got some feedback on a novel that ended up changing my approach to everything I've written since. I was told by an editor that a book I'd written was moving into LGBT genre territory and it might isolate mainstream audiences. It occurred to me that I thought that I had been writing to a mainstream audience, I'd already been censoring how I truly wanted to write. This got me thinking about the kinds of stories and poems that get to be considered mainstream, or get to be visible. It's limiting and I wondered what it would take to open up the literary world.
It was after reading the NY Times review of James Franco's book of poetry that I wondered what would happen if everyone got to be James Franco during the submission process. The idea of an anonymous submission system was born, where writers could submit work as if they were James Franco and were already worthy of an editor's attention. Having a roving cast of editors seems to be key in ensuring that a diverse array of work can get presented.
What makes The James Franco Review different from other places to encounter poetry on the internet?
I think shifting editors is the main difference. If an editor is more lyric or eco focused during one session, the next session might be one that's significantly more experimental, or more narrative.
Why do you publish the work you publish? What excites you, and why?
My interest is in work that might get ignored by other journals because of cultural blind spots. I know that much of editing is about what gets taken out, but I'm more interested in what can get brought in—additions, please, to the river of literature! If you are a writer that feels that you need to hide something about yourself in order to get published, or need to have white male main characters only, or can only tell queer stories if they are coming out tales or end in tragedy I want to hear from you and I want you to go against what you've been taught is a worthy story to tell. Since the editors rotate, and since there are no intermediary readers, I get really excited about the idea that the editors are given free reign to choose based on their interests and desires as readers and that the mood or spirit of the journal has room to change from issue to issue. It's an important thing for editors and writers to remember: we were readers first, and there's nothing more loving than a reader.
What should someone submitting work to The James Franco Review know about the site?
Submissions are blind, so even though you should put your real name and contact info into submittable, make sure your name is not included anywhere on your manuscript, including the file name.
What other literary sites, journals, or broadcasts, online or print, are your faves?
This isn't necessarily indicative of the swing of the journal, since everything is dependent on current editors' tastes and desires as readers, but I'm really excited by journals and organizations such as Alice Blue Review, Rattle, Apogee, VONA/Voices, Lana Turner, and Guernica.