If the idea of snuggling up to a stack of submissions sounds like the most romantic way to spend your evening with the one you love, then you can pretty much imagine the lives of Genevieve Kersten and Eric Andrew Newman, editors of the newest online venue for poetry and flash fiction: Okay Donkey.
Publishing one new poem every Wednesday and one new flash fiction every Friday, Okay Donkey readers can enjoy a mix the eclectic and weird, as Kersten says. “We also strive to include diverse voices in our magazine, whether it's writers looking for their first publication, self-taught writers without an MFA, queer writers, or POC writers.”
Some of this openness stems from the editors’ own backgrounds. Poetry Editor Genevieve Kersten has a B.A. in Studies in Cinema and Media Culture from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and an M.A. from North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. Flash Fiction Editor Eric Andrew Newman has a B.A. in English from University of San Diego with an emphasis in Creative Writing and an M.S. in Library Science from Dominican University.
Kersten explains their motivation to start a lit mag: “We’re both writers ourselves, and we've always loved to engage in the literary community as readers and supporters of lit mags. We've been on literary Twitter for a while now and love interacting with other writers and lit mags. Starting our own lit mag just seemed like the next step in the natural progression of our literary journey.”
Since starting the publication, Kersten comments and the ups and downs: “They’re really the same thing. We get so many amazing submissions and can only publish a few on the site. Since it's just the two of us, sometimes the sheer amount of submissions we get can overwhelm us, but there really is nothing more exciting than finding a true gem from a writer we haven't heard of in the inbox.”
The editorial process, and the site itself, Kersten explains as “low-fi”: “We’re partners in life, as well as at the magazine, so most of the work gets done at home in the evenings and on weekends. Since it's just the two of us, each editor gives every submission in their genre the first read. If they really like a piece, they'll hand it off to the other editor. Then we decide which pieces to publish. We don't always agree and ultimately each of us has autonomy over our own genre. We prioritize a quick turnaround time.”
In recognizing some of the contributors to the publication, Kersten wanted to give a special shout out to friends who entrusted the editors with their work early on in the process, “when Okay Donkey was just an idea and not yet a full-fledged magazine. They didn't know what it was about or if it would be any good but were still willing to hand over their best stuff. This is Michael Alessi, Chelsea Harris and Dan Sanders for flash fiction, and Ted Mico, Erin Rice and Brian Dau for poetry. Without their excellent work, we don't know if our launch would have been as successful as it was.”
As that success continues, Kersten says they’re looking to organize an Okay Donkey reading in Los Angeles, and possibly Chicago (“our long-time home”) as well as an annual Okay Donkey Flash Fiction Contest and Okay Donkey Poetry Contest. This may take a bit more tech and financial resources, but Kersten adds, “We want our writers to know that we strongly believe in the accessibility of submitting to literary magazines, so even though we might start a tip jar submission system in the future, or charge a small fee for contest entries, we'll always have free submission options available.”
As for the name – one of our core questions with new lit mags is getting to that etymology – Kersten reveals, “It's really too stupid and embarrassing to mention. If we ever meet some of our readers in person, maybe we'll tell them the story over drinks sometime.” I’m looking forward to having that drink with you! In the meantime, we can all enjoy reading Okay Donkey.