The Editors of Pinwheel on Pinwheel
Tell me about the creation of Pinwheel. When and how and why was it conceived?
We (Stephen Danos and Dolly Lemke) launched the first issues of Pinwheel on October 15, 2012. Previously, we co-curated the salon-style Dollhouse Reading Series in Chicago. As the series grew in name and popularity, so many great voices and people passed through Dolly's apartment that hearing them read for only 10 minutes wasn't enough. We started by soliciting alumni readers, branching out solicitations from there.
We started Pinwheel as a repository for established and emerging poets to publish their misfit darlings—poems they love that may or may not fit in at other, more prominent publications due either to length or formatting. We publish poems that we believe pop, both on and off the page. As editors, we have varying tastes in contemporary poetry, so we want to do our damndest to move forward without a set aesthetic, letting the poems we publish per issue speak to each other.
What makes Pinwheel different from other places to encounter poetry on the internet?
Dolly Lemke: Our visual art component is something Stephen works really hard to incorporate in a meaningful way. He always asks us what works with or pushes against this issue. That adds a level of complexity I don't think a lot of other online journals care about or implement (with definite exceptions like Sixth Finch and Vinyl). I think we also focus on creating tension and terse experiences for the reader. Not shocking or controversial, necessarily, but moments of reconsideration, genuine contemplation and emotion, and intensity. We work really hard to make sure we publish outside of what's comfortable for us.
What is something that you have recently published that really excited you, and why?
Stephen Danos: I love the entirety of Issue 10, which we published mid-March. If I have to pick one published piece that blissfully twisted my senses, I'll go with "Ocean Poem" by Kamden Hilliard, because he's able to synthesize various media, history, references, social issues, sexuality, speakers, and flaring images into his lines. In many ways, the poems mimic contemporary attention spans, with all of the imagistic connections forming a honeycomb. This seems overwhelming at first, but Hilliard places interruptions of deep feeling to pull you back in:
what a trill: tidal boards all up in my beach date like oh
y'all weren't finna do the sunset / buttfuck / cuddle thing, right? wrong, ocean.
you may not be the weakest link (goodbye) but yr cutting it pretty fuckin close
with this general trend.
change, i mean: everyone loves you, they really really love you.
but there's that tide again.
Dolly Lemke: Honestly, I think something we recently published that really excited me is not poetry, but Jerriod Avant's photography from Issue 10. It's breathtaking and stark and makes me feel things. In terms of poetry, Tyler Mills' "Hawk Parable" has stuck with me since its publication in Issue 9. There are so many ways to read it literally and figuratively that each experience feels brand new. One of the last lines haunts me: "Make it mean."
Mike Krutel: Diana Khoi Nguyen's "Like Life" is a beautiful fractured progression. Often, numbered sections (I think numbered sections impart a different sense of assemblage than poems sectioned without numbers or like markers) seem heavily arbitrary to me. This poem exerts fantastic pressure in every section, as if I am surrounded by them and not made to walk down them as a greeting-line. Also, Tommy Pico's selection from "Junk." I'm interested in how this poem excerpts work outside of the context of the full experience of the longer poems, 'Junk 'and 'Nature Poem'. Pico's pieces are really effective teases, to the point where I'm excited to read the entire document.
Holly Amos: Tommy Pico's and beyza ozer's poems in issue 10. I'm still obsessed with Amy Lipman's work from issue 9. In terms of artwork, Janna Ireland's magical photographs (also issue 9) and Dora Malech's dynamic drawings from issue 2.
What should someone submitting work to Pinwheel know about the site?
We read everything that comes through and don't make editorial decisions lightly. Democratic conversations are essential and persistent to our selection process. Not one person has the only or final say. If you send us work or are solicited by one of us, know that we're going to put your pieces in the best space we can create.
Otherwise, just send anything to us when we are open for submissions from May 1st– 31st. We're finally on Submittable, so submit here. Between the four of us editors, our tastes are fairly distinct. We continuously surprise each with what poems we dig up and rave about because it really keeps us all on our toes and ensures that we don't get complacent as editors.
What other literary sites, journals, or broadcasts, online or print, are your go-to?
Birdfeast; Entropy Magazine; Fanzine; Forklift, Ohio; H_NGM_N; Horsethief; Jellyfish Magazine; Jubilat; Muzzle; NOÖ Journal; The Offing; The Peach Basket PHANTOM; Poetry Public Pool; Sixth Finch, Twitter; TYPO; Vinyl; The Volta