Friday Feature: Interview with Gabriella Pishotti

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Gabriella Pishotti, editor of Calliope.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

I love reading fiction, especially fiction with characters you could almost swear were real people.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

Just this past winter I began reading some of the Belt Books, specifically Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology. It’s a collection of stories from a variety of writers in the Cleveland area who capture the city and its many different flavors. If you’re from around the area I highly recommend it!

What can a writer do to increase chances of being accepted?

Revise. The best works we receive (so often the ones that get published) are the ones that are in at least their second or third draft. Those that really demonstrate knowledge of the form also usually do better. For example, we tend to publish creative nonfiction pieces that contain several different elements of creative nonfiction — research, personal connection, an over-arching, larger idea — rather than just one of these.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

We have a history of working with judges who are well-known in their field, and so I think it’s exciting to be able to advertise that these women and men are the ones actually reading the work students submit and making the final decision.  Just this past year we had David Giffels, who’s written for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal (not to mention MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head) judge for our creative nonfiction category, so that was exciting. Our magazine’s also over sixty years old, so I think our long history also plays a part in making us distinctive.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

We really want to start collecting more drama pieces for next year. We host the category every year but never get enough submissions to be able to publish it as its own category, so I’d really love to see more writing submitted in this genre. I’d also like to really see more artwork published in mediums other than photography. We receive a lot of photography every year — which is great! — but we know artists work with a variety of other forms too and we accept all of them — one year we had a papier-mâché mask place as an award winner!

What made you want to be an editor?

There were a lot of reasons I wanted to take on the role of editor for Calliope. First off, as a writer myself I love having the opportunity to be able to read the works of others, and I think it’s really important for undergraduate writers especially to have a place where they can share their work, so I wanted to become a part of this. I also had been editor of my high school’s literary magazine, and I just fell in love with the process of working with a variety of different writing and art forms and having the opportunity to help present them to others. I also really enjoyed the process of designing my magazine in high school too, so I was excited to continue working with the layout of the Calliope in college.

What kind of things do you write?

As a writing major I’ve luckily had the chance to experiment with all forms of writing — fiction, creative nonfiction, and most recently poetry. When I’m writing just for fun I usually prefer fiction, as I love developing and breathing life into characters, but I’ve recently taken more of an interest in the other two genres as well. I had the opportunity last semester to complete a larger creative nonfiction piece for my senior project, and it really showed me how much fun the research aspect of writing can be and how as a writer you can literally explore anything you want and challenge yourself to turn it into art.

So I guess the best answer would be: I like to write everything.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

The name, Calliope, is for the Greek muse of music and epic poetry.

What inspired your aesthetic?

I’d like to think that our magazine has a very modern aesthetic as we usually receive work dealing with very timely themes and ideas. However I think the best description of our magazine is that it’s also very adaptable, each addition having its own unique flavor to it. Our cover page changes each year, always featuring one of the pieces of artwork we’ve chosen to publish, and usually its a piece that captures the trend of the work published as a whole. For example, this year we received a lot of submissions relating to the themes of growth and nature, and so our cover featured a close-up of a flower.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

I hope for our magazine to continue in its esteemed status as being a publication where it’s an honor to be published. We really do strive to publish the best undergraduate writers and artists, and I hope that I have managed to preserve this reputation. I think us reaching out to other schools and encouraging submissions from more than just our own campus really helps with this.

Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.


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