Matt is a reader, writer, teacher, lover, and liver, not necessarily in that order. He is eager to read your comments and hopes you enjoy his thoughts, ideas, and positions. Matt believes that life is open to interpretation, and he hopes you take time to disagree with yourself every chance you get!
Matt has been a little corny his whole life. He blames Ohio. In fact, his first word was “combine.” Almost a year old, driving with his mom and dad in an old, green Chevy Chevette, he looked into a cornfield, saw a large machine, and said, “combine.” Neither his mom nor his dad were too pleased that their son recognized farm machinery before he recognized them, but they were pleased with the number of syllables he’d used. Matt still tries to disappoint his parents, but now he uses words like “mother” and “father” to lay it on thick.
Matt is the Managing Editor of the Mock Turtle Zine. Matt has recently published poetry in The Main Street Rag and The Poydras Review. When he’s not writing or spending time with his family, he works in educational publishing, and oversees a tutoring program for homeless children.
Matt recently sat down with Artist United for this interview:
AU–Mock Turtle Zine calls itself “A literary and arts magazine dedicated to supporting Miami Valley creatives,” tell me about it.
MB–We’ve been around for just over ten years. Each year we produce 2 issues. We’re coming up on Issue 21. Mock Turtle Zine was founded by Christina Dendy. Initially, I was published in the first two issues, and then I started helping with the publication. The current team and I took over the zine about 2 years ago. As always, we are an all volunteer staff. The Zine is free to everyone. All submissions are read blindly and judged on their merits. We accept submissions from all over, but the Miami Valley gets first dibs.
AU–Tell me about the name Mock Turtle.
MB–The Mock Turtle is a sub-character in Alice in Wonderland. It originally came up in a conversation between Christina and Ron Rollins. I think Ron takes about 80% credit for coming up with the name. I like the name, but we are considering a change, just considering it for now, because we would like it to reflect Dayton.
AU–You said that Mock Turtle was your labor of love, do you want to talk about your day job?
MB–No, thanks. I talk about my day job way too much. Let’s just say that I work in educational publishing and technology. I love it. Let’s leave it at that.
AU–OK then, let’s go back to the Zine. You said that submissions are open, and the works are blindly judged, but what are you looking for?
MB–It depends, really. We value craftsmanship and originality. But, c’mon–who doesn’t? When I dive into a piece, I want to be shocked by the frigid water in the deep end of the artists’ creative swimming pool. After I surface and catch my breath, the piece should allow me to float, but there needs to be a current pulling continually tugging at me from below. With all that said, folks need to know that there are times when a work that is really strong just doesn’t fit how the Zine is coming together. Maybe the work is too long for how much space we have. Heck, sometimes the flow just appears organically within the submission pile that overrides the merit of any one work.
AU–Do you provide feedback on works not published?
MB–Sometimes. If someone asks for it. I think feedback is a double-edged sword. It forces you to provide a rationale for what you’re doing, and that doesn’t necessarily help. I think the thing I most want to say to people who get told “no” is that “no” doesn’t mean “stop”. Don’t get discouraged. There are so many reasons the answer might be “no”. I implore everyone to read “no” as “try again.”
AU–Good to know. Besides open submissions how do you reach out to authors and artists?
MB–We actively participate and engage with our community. Mock Turtle is all about community. We love to attend local events. For instance, this week was the Winter Solstice Poetry Reading. Every year, friends of the Tecumseh Land Trust and Glen Helen gather for an evening of poetry in honor of the Winter Solstice. The lineup this year included the first poet laureate of Cincinnati, Pauletta Hansel, a Dayton Literary Peace Prize nominee, Moriel Rothman-Zecher, the president of Ohio Poetry Association, Chuck Salmons, and the mother-daughter team Karen and Alexandra Scott.
We are also proud to have judged the annual Dayton Metro Library Poetry Contest in the past. The contest is held (almost) every year in April in honor of National Poetry month. Winners are published in the Zine. It’s one way we reach out to new authors. We hope that those authors will come back to us–sometimes they do. We have rotating readers for each issue–all volunteers.
For the past few years, there have been fewer and fewer visual art submissions. However, we keep up with the Miami Valley Art scene. For the last three issues, we have personally reached out to prominent artists in the community for cover submissions. Hopefully, working with Artists United will bring in more art submissions. We want to publish creative works of all mediums.
AU–And the Zine is free? How are you funded?
MB–Our funding comes from donations, sponsorships, and advertisements. Recently, we’ve supercharged our advertising online–we like cross pollinating–so our vendors get lots of social media exposure. We’ve also revamped our website to facilitate deeper community engagement. The new site makes it easy to donate or offer sponsorship.
AU– How long does it take to produce the Zine?
MB–Mock Turtle Zine publishes twice a year, spring and fall. Submissions come in all the time, so we have lots of material. The spring issue hangs a bit on the Dayton Metro Library’s poetry contest, but with our great staff of readers and the attention to detail and layout skills of our Artistic Director, Melissa Bautista, it all comes together in four to six weeks. I am excited to see what the next issue holds…