SmokeLong Quarterly
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Smoking With Randall Brown
by Tara Laskowski

You've created your own press. Why? How long have you been percolating on this idea and what's your goal?
The press and journal are associated with the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Rosemont College. So definitely one reason behind its creation was to add to the offerings of our MFA program. We are also in a position to pay writers ($50). And I also have been less and less interested in the definitions and labels for very short fiction (often called flash fiction) and more interested in the decision-making process of writers working with what Iíve come to call "compressed forms."

So, in short, the goal is to create a journal and press interested in discovering how each writer responds to his/her own sense of what it means to write using compression and to provide some financial and artistic support for these efforts.

Why did you name it Matter Press? Why does it matter?

What kind of staff do you have? What opportunities do graduate students have at Matter Press?
The readers will consist of MFA in Creative Writing students, perhaps faculty, and me. The MA in Publishing students will have the opportunity, for the chapbooks, to design them—and I hope be involved in the marketing of them also.

Are you worried at all about the changing face of publishing? From traditional to small press to e-books and self-publishing, there's a lot of noise out there—some of which is exciting, and some of which is scary. Where do you think Matter Press fits in to all this?
If Matter Press had been founded to make money, then I think I'd be scared, very scared. What often happens, it seems, when "compressed work" is brought into the discussion of its place in the literary world is a conversation about how to define it, what to call it, where it fits (if it fits at all), and so on. As a writer working with compression, not much of that figures into the process, so that's a place I see for Matter Press, a place that isn't (so much) concerned with definitions, labels, worthiness, but is more focused on the creative act itself and how a compressed space for that act might work on a piece, both as it is being written and afterward, when it is product.

You are also publishing an online Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. When can we submit, and what kinds of stories are you looking for?
It's open May 1 for prose fiction and creative nonfiction (600-word limit). Since January 1st, its submissions have come in through solicitations. Our managing editor, David Aichenbaum, got the journal up and running, and he helped create its particular vibe, but he's leaving now for his Ph.D. program at Cornell, so I hope we can keep that aura around.

I'd been working recently on setting up in the online Submishmash submission manager the letters, guidelines, and whatnot, and I asked some writers for some advice. That conversation led to my coming to this epiphany that is now part of the guidelines: "In short, we want to fall in love with your work. That might happen in the way we've fallen in love with work we've previously published, or it might happen in a way we have yet to experience. Maybe reading that other work will help in knowing whether you should send your work to us, but in truth, such a thing might not be discoverable." We read wanting to fall in love, something that I think sets a certain standard and maybe also gives writers a certain comfort level.

On a personal level, what are you hoping to get out of this new venture? How do you think it will help your own writing, if at all?
I imagine it will mostly take away from the time I need to write, and that's what I seem to need most these days, uninterrupted time. I think it's worth the trade-off. I hope it will be.

How excited are you about the Phillies this year?
If they keep hitting! Imagine this season with the Phils hitting like this.

And honestly, how much do you miss working with SmokeLong? (You can tell us. We know you do.)
If my name is ever recognized by writers, it's because of my work with SLQ. I miss discovering and rediscovering the amazing work and writers that submit to SLQ. And that staff! Such a brilliant collection of characters.
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