Editors Talk: Dhwanee Goyal, Indigo Literary Journal
As a platform for emerging poets, our mission is to provide practical help for serious writers. The community lifts itself up together or not at all. In that light, we’ve been asking some great editors from around the literary community for their frank thoughts on why poems may get accepted/rejected from their own slush pile of submissions, and what poets can do to better their chances. Today, we’re speaking with Dhwanee Goyal, Editor in Chief of Indigo Literary Journal.
How and when did Indigo Literary Journal begin?
Dhwanee Goyal: Indigo Literary Journal came together sometime in August 2020. Ai Li, our founder, and I were formerly part of an online space for young writers, and we thought it would be really special if we could contribute something of our own to the literary community!
Can you talk about the work and writers you publish—any consistent themes, forms, aesthetic qualities, you look for? Feel free to shout out some writers you’ve published here.
We like new journeys, descriptions of nights spent awake, work that defies genre. There isn’t a set pattern to what we publish, but a lot of what we have featured blends past, present and future together really well. We love active, assured narratives as opposed to ones which don’t quite know what to do with themselves; we like explorations of difficult relationships, discovery of love in the small things.
I believe that poetry is a great tool to explore and understand both yourself and the world around you. I love pieces that talk about identity in whichever fashion, poems that travel through conversations and routines. Two of my favorite pieces Indigo has ever published are “Fourth Dimension Fairy Tale” by Divyasri Krishnan and “Runoff Is The Sound Of Closure” by Morgan Ridway. Both these poems have such fantastic tones, and so many things are done extremely well here.
What advice do you have for new poets who are submitting work?
Take it slow! Don’t submit just for the sake of submitting, even though that might seem enticing at first. It is important to spend some time with your work before sending it out to the world, so go over it a couple of times, think: is there any way you could add focus to the more high-stakes part of your poem? Would this piece perhaps work better in a different format? Try variations! Poetry is an extremely fun craft, and if you’ve enjoyed drafting your piece and are satisfied with the end result, there’ll be editors out there who will love it too.
From a craft standpoint, what typically causes you to accept a poem? What causes you to turn the page and move on to the next poem in Submittable?
Aesthetically, I’m always intrigued by how a writer uses white space in a poem (do they use enjambments to add emphasis to certain turns of phrases, are their line breaks new or interesting), amongst other things. While this also includes form or shape poetry, it’s also interesting how couplets or tercets can be used innovatively– clever line breaks, suspense, etc; or how the poet can use pause to guide the narrative of the poem, ensuring to pause or speed up at the appropriate places.
It’s also important to me that a poem has consistency throughout. A lot of pieces, especially in the early stages of development, aren’t quite sure where they are going, so they end up juxtaposing themselves somewhere, which breaks momentum. With poetry, as opposed to say prose, you have a lot less space to convey the same idea you would have had normally, so it’s important to consider carefully what one is trying to say– clip unnecessary lines, strengthen loose connections, surprise the reader.
What have you learned as an editor and writer from working at “Indigo Literary Journal”? Where do you see the magazine in five years?
I joined Indigo Literary Journal as a poetry editor initially, but was made editor-in-chief in March 2021. I’ve learnt a lot since then! For instance: a lot of pieces are rejected because of disagreements between readers and editors, so if you receive a positive rejection, there was probably someone on the masthead who vouched for your work. Poetry is an incredibly subjective art form, and it takes quite a lot of back and forth between editors before we send an acceptance.
Communicating with our lovely staff has also taught me new ways to approach poetry and prose. They always raise points I hadn’t thought of before, and a lot of their comments are extremely intelligent.
Right now, I’m hoping to make our blog more active, potentially launching an interview series with former contributors as well as some guest writers or editors. However, in five years, I would like us to have a fellowship program, hopefully! Working alongside other creatives is such a fun and enriching experience, and I would love to be able to bring people together to create alongside each other in a collaborative capacity. I’d also like to have had a themed issue, sometime in the future!
Dhwanee Goyal is sixteen and getting through life one donut at a time. An editor-in-chief of Indigo Literary Journal, her work appears or is forthcoming in Barrelhouse, Foglifter Journal, Variant Literature, and more. Find her on Twitter @pparallel, or at dhwaneegoyal.weebly.com.
Jose Hernandez Diaz
Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is from Southern California. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020). His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Boulevard, The Cincinnati Review, Georgia Review, Iowa Review, The Nation, Poetry and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. Currently, he is an Associate Editor at Frontier and Guest Editor at Palette Poetry.