Drew Scott Swenhaugen on Gramma
Tell me about the creation of Gramma. When and how and why was it conceived?
Gramma was created over a conversation in June of 2017 between William (Bill) True (Gramma's Publisher) and myself, Drew Scott Swenhaugen (Gramma's Managing Editor). Bill has been an arts advocate and art collector in Seattle for many years. Under the William and Ruth True foundation, Bill founded Western Bridge, a contemporary arts space that ran from 2004 to 2012. Bill is a poetry lover as well, and when he had found out my publishing history with Poor Claudia and Octopus Books (of Portland), we began scheming on starting a press together. Gramma seems to be a natural evolution from Bill's Western Bridge and my work with Poor Claudia and Octopus Books. We both felt that there was room for a new press in Seattle, and brainstormed ways that Gramma could contribute to the literary world in general. The big goal for Gramma is to facilitate a daily content series (Daily Gramma) as well as a full-length book series (Gramma Books, coming in 2017). I pitched him a plan and budget, and we decided to roll with it. I moved to Seattle in August and began building the foundations of the press.
It was important to both Bill and me that the press be an inclusive space, both in terms of content and editorial decision making; I asked colleagues and fellow poets to see if there was any interest to begin an editorial board. There are ten of us. That number may grow.
What makes Gramma different from other places to read poetry (and literature) on the internet?
We loved the idea of having a daily (Monday through Friday at least) content site in order to make Gramma a constant destination for readers. As daunting as managing a daily series is, we editors love the task of searching for new work constantly. It makes us better readers, better writers, and better people. As editors, we pride ourselves in the task of finding poetics in many disciplines. We want all types of work—traditional poems, essays, audio, visual, video, translations, non-traditional translations, you name it—anything we can design for the website, we are willing to publish. We want to challenge the definition of poetry and to break down boundaries within the publishing world. That doesn't happen overnight. Having a daily content series allows us to keep chipping away at these boundaries, and to provide a constant array of new voices.
Each editor holds a large amount of autonomy with that they/she/he decide to accept for publication. There is no '"final vote." Ten different editorial viewpoints makes for a really great medium for different types of poetics.
What is something that you have recently published that really excited you, and why?
"Election Day," a collaborative poem written by 26 different artists that acts as a protest poem against the deplorable, unbelievable language that came from the mouth of the president-elect. This poem will be printed in book form soon, where all proceeds will go to a number of organizations, including a large ACLU event held in NYC later in December. The "Election Day" poem will hopefully be a jumping off point for poets who want to collaborate on a large scale. Expect an "Inauguration Day" poem soon ...
'THERE ARE NO BIRDS IN THE NESTS OF YESTERDAY," an interview with filmmaker Roland Dahwen Wu—a nonfiction film by Roland Dahwen Wu that documents el silbo gomero, the whistling language of the Canary Islands. The documentary focuses on Lino, one of the master whistlers on the island of La Gomera, who recounts his youth growing up as a whistler, teaching children to whistle, and the loss of this unique language.
What should someone submitting work to Gramma know about the site?
Anything goes! Send us your most experimental work. We want new voices! For those who have never sent out work or have a hard time finding the confidence to send out—we want you! We want unrepresented voices.
What other literary sites and journals, online or print, are your go-to?
So many! Public Pool, The Offing, Pinwheel, Fence, Lana Turner, Reality Beach, THE DESTROYER, jubilat, SUSAN, Poor Claudia, Big Big Wednesday, Cold Cube, The Fem, etc etc etc