Meet the Publisher: Sarah Kosch of Random Sample Magazine – November 21, 2020
We had a wonderful time discussing writing, editing, and publishing with Sarah today. Thanks to all who came!
The following are abbreviated notes from the workshop.
Sarah Marie Kosch is the prose editor at Random Sample Magazine. She earned her MFA in fiction from Oregon State University. She is a reader for the New England Review and a former editor of Anomalous Press,where she helped launch Anomalous Books and edited a folio of speculative work by women writers. Her work has appeared in Tiny Essays, Tin House, Grist,Rappahannock Review, Knee-Jerk Magazine, Print-Oriented Bastards, Gemini Magazine, and elsewhere. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska.
Panel: Mary Kay Rummel, Marsha de la O, Sandra Hunter (moderator), Sarah Kosch
SH: Who are you as a writer?
SK: I first fell in love with writing at a young age and with strong encouragement from mentors, continued to write.
MdlO: Editing is often described as ‘a labor of love’—tell us how you fell in love?
SK: Writing is something wonderful and magical. As an editor I want to be the amplifier of the work. I respect the work as it is and don’t want to leave my “print” on it. Reading writers’ work is inspiring. I’ve found a balance between writing and editing. If I wasn’t editing, I would be too much in my head, too isolated. Community is crucial for a writer. Looking back, one of the most powerful experiences was when a writers group encouraged her. Editing is myway of keeping a dialogue going, to give back to the community. I want to note that Random Sample particularly gives writers under 25 specific editorial support.
MKR: What journals inspire you, who are your heroes in the field?
SK: SO MANY. It’s incredible how many lit journals there are. Erica Mena started Anomalous Press, now Anmly – she’s been a huge inspiration. It’s inspiring to be able to raise diverse voices, to polish something without inserting my own view and avoid my own biases.
MdlO: When you’re reading submitted work, what do you look for, what leaps out at you?
SK: I love something where I can tell it was crafted with intention. The content can vary, but I’ll be engaged with a piece where every line was intentional – it was a choice not a brain dump.
SH: Is there a way the world of publishing can have a role in creating a new reality?
SK: Being representative of everyone. Being aware that changes are happening and knowing how much change needs to happen. We need to create more equitable reality. All aspects of the human experience needs to be covered.
SH: How would you describe the ethos or defining spirit of your journal?
SK: Building community—we want to connect. To talk to and respect writers. We’re getting better with tracking submissions on gender ratio, etc., so that we as the publisher are aware of publishing a diverse community.
WHAT RANDOM SAMPLE IS LOOKING FOR:
Robin Cedar, editor-in-chief (and former poetry editor: More generally (and historically, on my part as poetry editor) I liked to go for a little bit of everything. As a personal aesthetic, I gravitate far more towards political or experimental poems, although I love a beautifully executed lyrical. I tend to value unique, beautiful, and surprising imagery over experimentation (so long as the experimentation serves a purpose). I’m always looking for the “stakes” of a poem, that is: why did this poem need to be written?
Alina Stefanescu, current poetry editor, seconds what Robin said and added: I love reading poems that don’t ask us to feel the same old things but rather to inhabit the complexity of revelation.
Length: No length restrictions
SK: Content and style: Just about anything that engages and is intentional. I am NOT okay with misogyny or any writing that targets specific groups.
Length: Flash fiction is 1000 words or less. Longer fiction is 7000 or less.
And, yes, we nominate for the Pushcart Prize!