Moveable Type: Waxwing
October 31, 2019
An interview with W. Todd Kaneko, Co-Editor & Poetry Editor
Waxwing has been publishing vital work by diverse voices for six years now. What has been the mission and values of the magazine in publishing its three yearly issues?
The core of our mission as a magazine is to be as inclusive as possible as we showcase the very best writing we can in each issue. We believe that curating a diverse variety of voices and publishing the highest quality writing we find are not mutually exclusive endeavors. We aim to publish responsibly and respectfully. And we want to knock your socks off with each issue.
Give us a look behind the editorial curtain. What’s Waxwing’s process for putting together issues that include all genres as well as work in translation, visual art and music?
Fiction editor Rose Skelton and nonfiction editor Silas Hansen both have readers to help them make decisions, develop work, copy edit, and things like that. Translations editor Rajiv Mohabir sometimes has to seek out work because we don’t get enough submissions in that section, currently. My poetry co-editor Justin Bigos and I work together to assemble the most dynamic poetry section we can. We also have a staff of ridiculously fantastic contributing editors who write reviews and interviews, and our music column is done by music editor, Nick Fox. A month before publication, all materials are sent to Erin Stalcup and her production team to code and design the issue before launch. It should always run smoothly, but it’s always hectic.
Who are some writers, artists or pieces you’ve been particularly enthusiastic to feature recently?
Things changed for Waxwing when “Good Bones” by Maggie Smith went viral—suddenly, people were wondering where that poem came from and our profile as a poetry venue skyrocketed. Waxwing has had so many awesome writers trust us with their work recently: Ada Limón, C. Dale Young, Diane Seuss, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil, just to name a few. I’m a poet so my attentions fall that way naturally, but we also have two essayists I really dig, Brian Oliu and Berry Grass, coming up in the next issue, and one of my favorite flash fictions are the ones we recently published by Kell Connor and Michael Martone. There’s a lot to be enthusiastic about from my vantage point—all of it.
What are a few things you’re excited about in the world of contemporary literature?
I think the accessibility of literature via online lit mags creates an exciting environment for writers and readers to meet. That is, so many magazines work outside of university affiliation or corporate oversight, and the result is so many venues guided by a wide variety of aesthetics with the accessibility made possible by the internet. It’s a cool time to be a writer submitting work and an editor sifting through the submissions queue.
Finally, what’s next for Waxwing? What might the future hold for the magazine?
One difficult thing about being an online magazine is that we don’t have a revenue stream. There’s no money coming in, so there’s no money to pay contributors. We’re proud of how our magazine has grown from a small mag with a punk rock, no-holds-barred attitude towards publishing into a much more popular publication without losing sight of ourselves. We do have ideas for further growth, but clearly, figuring out money has to be next—not that we aim to get rich, but more that we have to figure out a more economically fair model for our writers.