Editors Talk: Sneha Subramanian Kanta, Parentheses 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 Sneha Subramanian Kanta, Editor at Parentheses Journal.


How and when did Parentheses Journal begin?

Sneha Subramanian Kanta: In December 2016, when I was in the UK, founding editor Harshal Desai and I collaborated to begin Parentheses Journal. We were looking for the opportunity to introduce a publication that honored voices that had something to say. The idea is that there is a need for academia to transcend and include interdisciplinary methodologies to incorporate narratives. Harshal and I are interested in creating a publication that engages creative discourse and fosters dialogue.

While I’m the poetry editor, Cathy Ulrich is the fiction editor, and Harshal Desai is the art and photography editor. He is also the force behind our online and print issues that make the whole cohesive work of publishing our journal possible.

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.

Parentheses Journal encourages myriad conjunctions of ideas in the genres we publish. We’ve published poems that are interwoven with more than one central premise, poems that inventively utilize white space, and poems which pay careful attention to lineation and form. I’m interested to read work by writers who arrive from different geographical locations as I believe that diverse voices include not just local writers but also international. There are also poems which bring in a plethora of ideas— and I admire how a writer may utilize form to expand on these nuances.

I look for writing which elicits a more visceral reaction in the reader. I encourage those who are interested to submit to Parentheses Journal to peruse previous issues on our website.

What advice do you have for new poets who are submitting work?

I’d like to say—

  • Please make sure you read the submission guidelines before sending out work. A large number of literary journals are run by a dedicated team of volunteers, and we are rooting for your work. When you send us work which is in accordance with our submission guidelines, you help facilitate the opportunity for us to consider your work.
  • I’d recommend double-checking your document to ensure that your attachment includes work which was intended for our consideration. This is a practice I follow through as well.
  • Read, and read vastly. Incorporate a varied list of literary journals available online and read the contents as you have time available. It is vital to read beyond the local— and small presses are bringing us the best of contemporary literature. Please consider placing an order request for literary journals you’d like to engage with at your local library. This way, you are benefiting yourself, the literary journal, as well as your community.
  • Reach out to literary publications seeking out new staff members if this fits into your schedule. Most of these positions are volunteer, but are a learning experience if you have some time to dedicate to the undertaking.
  • Write out a list of publications with information of when they open for submissions. This will help you be aware and prioritize upcoming opportunities.
  • Do not let rejections discourage you. As an editor, I have had to decline submissions that have either come to a close acceptance, or have been something of which I’d like to read more. I have recently had the opportunity to accept a poem by a writer who had been sending us work for a few years now. This isn’t the first such instance. I’m glad writers continue to send their work our way and believe in our enthusiastic notes that invite them to resubmit. We do mean it when we encourage you to send us more work.
  • Be confident about your work. Celebrate your accomplishments, and remember, not writing is also a form of writing. There are several ways to begin again. You may want to consider taking an online workshop, engage in prompts, or have a schedule, if that kind of thing works for you.
  • Be generous, with yourself, and with those who create.

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?

I’m interested in poems that are innovative and stirring. When I’m working on the submissions we receive for Parentheses Journal, I also look at poems that are doing something different. This is to say that I invite poems which juxtapose newer ways of looking at the world and ourselves.

What have you learned as an editor and writer from working at “Parentheses Journal”? Where do you see the magazine in five years?

It has been an exercise and practice in joy to work with Parentheses Journal. I realize how important it is to uplift, share, and engage with work put out by creatives. We hope for as much encouragement, collaboration, and support from the community as our publication grows and burgeons.

Sneha Submaranian Kanta is a writer from the Greater Toronto Area, Canada. She is a recipient of the 2021 Robert Hayden Scholarship at Stockton University. She is the recipient of the inaugural Vijay Nambisan Fellowship 2019. She was the Charles Wallace Fellow writer-in-residence (2019-20) at The University of Stirling. An awardee of the GREAT scholarship, she has earned a second postgraduate degree in literature from The University of Plymouth. Her dissertation concentrated on a comparative literature study exploring postcolonial ecocriticism in the fiction and non-fiction of Arundhati Roy and Amitav Ghosh. Her work is forthcoming in Pleaides, The Carolina Quarterly, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. She is the author of the chapbook Ghost Tracks (Louisiana Literature Press, 2020). She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal. Website: www.snehasubramaniankanta.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.

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