Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Interview with Editor In Chief Rob Pockat

This is the last in a series of four interviews with the Stoneboat editorial team. Scroll down to read interviews with Jim, Signe, and Lisa.

About Stoneboat
How did you get involved with Stoneboat?
It was Lisa and Signe—I remember them buying me a drink, and then everything went black. I woke up at an undisclosed location, surrounded by pens, legal pads, and cheeses that I could neither pronounce nor properly digest. Lisa walked in a few minutes later with Jim slung over her shoulder. Orders were shouted. I did what I was told.

What is your role at Stoneboat?
I’m generally the person who comes up with the lofty goals that I would never be able to achieve on my own.
Stoneboat is really a team effort.

What do you look for in a submission?
I love it when I can feel the passion of an author come through in his or her writing. This, I think, comes through the genuineness of the author. Sometimes writers push a little too hard, losing concision and the spontaneity of their art. People have a tendency to self-edit as they are writing. I do this more than I should. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from the author Nate Lowe; “Don’t get it right, get it written.” Just like a great night of dreams, a great idea can be lost in the shadows of one’s mind forever unless one gets it on paper. Only after one has exhausted one's ideas on paper should it be edited. Passion coupled with craft leads to great writing.

What do you wear while reading submissions?
I’m supposed to wear something?

What is the surest way for you to give a submission an automatic "no"?
I doesn’t like grammar that be bad.

What has surprised you the most about working on a small literary journal?
I’ve been quite surprised and pleased with the amount of support and encouragement we’ve received for the journal. With all of the literary magazines available, I didn’t know if there would be room for another, but I’ve been proven wrong.

What have you learned from your experiences with Stoneboat?
I’ve learned that the written word can still surprise me. I’ve heard it said that there’s nothing left to write about or all the good ideas have been taken. Not true. We get a number of great pieces every reading period. Some of these we lose because we’re not quick enough to accept them. Some get rejected because, even though the writing is great, it doesn’t fit with the vibe of our journal. Some get rejected simply because we don’t have the funding to print a lengthier journal at this time. We get some really long pieces that are wonderful, but they far exceed our word count. I hope that as support grows, so will the length of the journal.

Just for fun

What do you do when you're not working on Stoneboat?
I have recently become a stay-at-home dad, and I must admit that I’m terrible at it. I’m pretty liberal in my parenting style. In fact, it’s been about 45 minutes since I saw or heard my three-year-old son.

What's on your iPod?
Tab Benoit, Jon Cleary, Miles Davis, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Beatles, Adele, Joe Cocker, John Lee Hooker, Otis Redding, Taj Mahal, Mazzy Star, Lizz Wright, Zero 7, Goldfrapp, Gomez, Gorillaz, The Faint, Damien Rice, Wilson Pickett, Zap Mama, The Rolling Stones. I was a band geek in high school, and my fellow mates and I would often get together on the weekends and listen to jazz and the blues. This has stuck with me through adulthood, and my wife and kids hate it.

Who are your favorite writers?
I really love authors whose personalities come through in their writing. Environmental writers do this beautifully—Aldo Leopold, Barry Lopez, Edward Abbey, and Thoreau. I also have a soft spot for the classic writers—Shakespeare, Chaucer, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Joyce. When it comes to poetry, I love reading the work of authors who have taken their own lives; Thomas James is a favorite of mine.

What are you currently working on?
I’ve lived in Sheboygan, Wisconsin my entire life, and I love it. The city I live in now, however, is much different than the one I grew up in. Gone are the mom-and-pop groceries, the family-owned diners, and the one-chair barbershops. These establishments have been replaced with gimmicky chains that have altered the identity and individuality of my hometown. I am currently working on a braided essay that explores my relationship with the city compared to my childrens’ relationships with the city. When I was 11-years-old my mother would send me to the corner store every day to buy her two packs of cigarettes. The shopkeeper, Mr. Bensman, would have them ready for me as soon as I walked through the door. The other day I sent my 11-year-old to my iPad to download a book from Amazon. Her community relationships are quite different than mine were. This is something I’ll be delving into with my writing.

What was your favorite TV show when you were growing up?
My favorite TV show when I was growing up had to be The Twilight Zone. I loved how Serling developed characters that just slipped past the southern edge of normal. I believe that all of us are psychologically fragile, and one never knows when he or she will cross into insanity. The show Fantasy Island explored this a bit as well. People would have the chance to experience a dream that they had only to realize that they became somebody they didn’t want to be—almost an alter ego.

What is the worst job you've ever had?
I cleaned truck driver bathrooms to put myself through college. I could go into detail about the things I found, but it’s probably best if I didn’t.

What is something that people would not know about you based on your resumé?
I hate talking, especially about myself. I think people talk too much. We’ve lost the art of listening and observing. Some of the greatest days I’ve had were hiking with Jim throughout the Kettle Moraine forests. While we occasionally have some pretty deep discussions we generally don’t say much to one another unless we see, hear, or smell something in the woods. Employers, however, want you to tell them how great you are and that you love communicating with your coworkers. This could be why I’m unemployed.

What is something your fellow Stoneboat editors don't know about you?
I have a 42” python, I’m an ordained minister, and I’m afraid of clowns.

If you were to cast your fellow Stoneboat editors in your favorite movie/TV show/musical/novel, what parts would they play?
I think I would cast Signe as a Bond girl. She has a bit of attitude and I don’t doubt she could kick some a$$. Lisa would be Mrs. Garrett from The Facts of Life. She is the consummate mother hen who is great at helping people with their problems. Jim would be Grizzly Adams….Except he would make a beautiful bear stew out of Ben. If I had to cast myself?…Jack Torrance.

What should the Stoneboat fan club know about you?
It takes a lot of writers, a lot of readers, and a little bit of money to make Stoneboat float. I’m not doing this for fame, fortune, or notoriety. I’m doing this simply because I have a love for great writing and an even greater love for helping writers share their work with an audience. You can help support Stoneboat by buying a subscription for yourself or for a friend. You can even help us by donating a buck or more using the button on the right sidebar. I thank all of our loyal readers and contributors.


Sig. said...

Rob, I think we're soul mates.

Oh -- and when you've got a solid draft of that Sheboygan piece, can I please-please-please read it? It sounds *awesome.*

Anonymous said...

Rob, I love this picture of you! There's a definite Twilight Zone-ish look about it.

And thanks for overcoming your dislike of talking about yourself to give us a peek into what makes you tick. I've always wondered...

Lainie Christensen