I read a quote once that said, “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.” Our volunteer staff at Little Patuxent Review works tirelessly behind the scenes to read your submissions, edit the draft and create the final printed journal. In other words, it means something to them when your work gets published (almost as much as it does to you). Our submission period opened on August 1, so I thought it might be a great opportunity for you to meet them. Over the next several months, look for fun and interesting posts about our stalwart volunteers.
Meet Scot Ehrhardt, who has been a poetry reader for over two years.
What’s your process for going through submissions? This is going to sound terrible: a poem is a no until it changes my mind. Good poetry commands a reader, whether the reader is willing to listen or not.
So I say no to just about everything. Then, when Laura (the poetry editor) asks for my favorite fifteen submissions, I give her four and wonder why she keeps me on the staff.
When you’re reading a submission, what draws you most about a piece? A balance between solid, concrete images and something innovative or significant. If a writer can do that, I’ll follow the piece anywhere.
What turns you off immediately when you read a submission? Confusing, esoteric poems. I dislike the contemporary philosophy of poetry, the American hybrid, and all that gobbledygook. Writing has to stay grounded—even with the natural impulse of poetry to elevate and transcend—it all just floats into the sky if a reader can’t follow it.
Who has informed your reading tastes most? Why? Consumer algorithms. I type something like House of Leaves into an amazon.com search, and see what similar books come up. Soulless, but effective.
What’s on your nightstand right now to be read? Labyrinths, by Borges.
Are you also a writer/poet? If so, tell us more. I have written poetry for about 20 years, and it’s just starting to get decent. My first small book of poetry, One of Us Is Real, is looking for a home.
I decided a few years ago that writing, for me, should be a community-based practice—I didn’t get much out of publishing a piece where I never saw the journal, or anyone who read it. That’s why LPR is such a nice entity—the journal is one small part of its presence in Maryland. From launch readings to local LitFests, guest speakers at schools to the webpage articles, everything centers on the community at hand. And despite the potential limitations that a locale-based organization can encounter, LPR consistently manages to gather superb content. I love that.
What’s your Six Word Memoir: Collector of lost and discarded things.
Do you have any superpowers? If not, what do you wish you had? I can predict about three seconds into the future. Mostly, it’s envisioning objects that will fall off tables, or kids about to get their fingers pinched. It doesn’t help anything, but it’s there.
Online Editor’s Note: A reminder that Little Patuxent Review’s submission period for “Myth” is open until October 24.