Let’s talk poetry with Denise Hill
If you’re looking for markets to submit your poems, NewPages is a well-established web site for literary news, guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, alternative periodicals, indie bookstores, writing contests, and more. In this interview we sit down with fellow literary advocate, beer enthusiast, and NewPages editor-in-chief Denise Hill. Listen in as we chat about everything literary, how NewPages got started, what we’d like to see more of in the literary community, and yes, Denise’s favorite brews. If you’re not familiar with NewPages, this is a great introduction and even if you are, tune-in for some great tips, advice, and get inspired by Hill’s passion for the poetry and literary communities!
In Tell Tell Poetry’s newest interview, Denise Hill and Trish Hopkinson, poet and creator of The Selfish Poet writing resource, discuss the genesis and growth of New Pages, building community, connecting writers with helpful resources, and most importantly—beer! Grab your favorite IPA and get ready to feel supported and inspired to take part in the poetry community. Hear how these two literary advocates first came together, what they think is missing from the literary community, and how you can participate.
Trish Hopkinson: Hello. It’s a beautiful spring morning here in Colorado, and I couldn’t be more pleased to be spending it with Denise Hill editor in chief of new pages and incredible online resource for writers and poets. Denise is a two year college English professor specializing in developmental writing and world mythology.
She began writing reviews for new pages in 2003, then became the review editor and eventually the editor. Her favorite part of working at new pages is helping people connect with resources and making decisions about commas. She manages the young writers guides and has assisted countless young editors as they began new publications, Denise enjoys the creative process of writing and drawing cartoon stakes.
And last but not least. She is a fan of devil IPA’s and builds with triples. Nothing less than 10% is her gold standard. Welcome Denise. And thanks for taking some time to chat with me [00:01:00] for a telltale poetry submission interview series. So yeah, such a pleasure to have you this morning.
Denise Hill: Thank you. Thank you. And I’m glad you’re enjoying good weather because here in Michigan, it is cold and rainy. We turn the heat back on today. I’m sad to say.
Trish Hopkinson: Oh goodness. No, it’s a Bluebird day and my air conditioning will probably be kicking on around one. O’clock it’ll be in the eighties today.
Denise Hill: Yeah, yeah.
Trish Hopkinson: It’s it’s lovely. It’s lovely.
Trish Hopkinson: So, Ooh. All right. So we met in kind of a funny way, because, you know, we ran in the same literary circles online and social media, but we originally connected because we both share a similar love for beer and have that in our bios, which I just thought was so funny. So um, so I know you mentioned, you know, obviously like AA peas and strong beers, but do you have a favorite beer or brewery you’d recommend for our listeners to try.
Denise Hill: Yes. Uh, as, as we like to say, we are living in a great age for [00:02:00] beer. Um, and Michigan is a great craft beer state. So anybody who is looking to do brewery tours come on to Michigan cause we got them. Um, all of my favorites come from our small, uh, here in Michigan. One of my top favorites comes from Short’s brewery.
Um, up north it’s called Houma Lupa. Um, and that’s a good 7% or 7% for me is like my light beer. So I will go, I will go. Yeah, I’ll drop below 10. Um, but these are, these are around the 7% founders makes an awesome, um, Centennial IPA Bell’s is our state’s award winning. Um, Beer for their two hearted IPA. And that one is known nationally.
We go to other states and we’ll say, show us your best IPA, right. To the beer stores. And they’ll go pull out a Bell’s awesome from that state. Yeah, we want, we want something local.
Trish Hopkinson: Yeah. That’s what we usually do. We’re like, what’s your local IPA. That’s what you [00:03:00] want to try.
Denise Hill: Yeah. Um, and old nation, um, has come out with one of, even my brother, who’s a super beer hound, says this is his top, um, IPA.
And it’s one of the, as we call it, you know, one of the muddy ones, one of the hazy IPA’s it’s called the boss. Boss. Tweed. Yeah. That’s my favorite. I’ll have to check that out for sure. Yeah. And anybody who gets a chance to go to El pina Austin brothers. I recently discovered, cause they’re fairly new beers.
I have not had a beard bad beer from them. Like if it says Austin brothers on the label, I’ll drink it because I know even if I’ve never had it, I know I’m going to like it. I may not choose it, you know, as a top beer, but their stuff is just all consistently great quality. Those are my beer recommendations for Michigan.
Trish Hopkinson: Ooh. I love it. I’m going to be coming back and jotting these down later. So yeah.
Denise Hill: Thank you. We’ll send you a care package. Lovely. That would be great. I would do a swap. You mentioned [00:04:00] some great ones too, so yeah.
Trish Hopkinson: Well, we’ll switch over more into writing topics here, although that was really fun and the best part of my day.
Um, so what was, what was the original inspiration for creating new pages? How did you guys really get it started?
Denise Hill: Yeah, that, that is all to Casey’s credit. Um, and Casey hill, uh, who is the founder? Yeah. The, um, still right. The, the manager and the editor for the top dog here, as we call them the big boss at new pages.
Um, but this was his idea and I actually have this, which is, you can see. A print edition of new pages, which is all, I love showing this to students because it’s like the old type set, right. That’s on the inside. Um, but this actually started, uh, probably 1979 when he was working at a bookstore. And, um, you know, it was reading review.
Um, Publications and seeing that there were a lot of really great books [00:05:00] that weren’t getting reviewed and they tended to be from small presses. They tended to be more radical political, alternative titles, you know that, but he said that these, they sell while people were interested, but he just wasn’t seeing them reviewed anywhere.
And so he put together this, originally this review of some of these titles and had people writing those reviews and then also. Um, putting together, where can you find them? Who’s publishing them. Um, and so it began as this print, um, periodical that libraries would subscribe to so that they could learn about these new, uh, books, the presses, and then libraries could order, uh, those books into bookstores.
Um, so that was the original focus. Yeah. Go fast forward to where it is. You say I started as a, um, a writer for our, him, uh, with the publication. I came in as an English major, um, who knew about literary magazines and liked reading them, but could really only find them like an academic libraries on the [00:06:00] shelves and only a select few.
Um, and so he and I talked about that and I said, well, Let’s look for more of these. Like these are really cool and there’s really no way to find these all in one place. Like how do you know all the literary magazines that are out there?
Um, so that started new pages. I’m more bend and it just kept going down that road. And so it became much more about, um, creative writing and creative writing publications, small presses. Um, we added on, or the bookstores had been there. Um, the libraries and then creative writing programs was one of our newer.
Um, uh, undergraduate graduate, um, creative writing programs in the U S and Canada. So it just based on the popularity of the people using the site for that literary content, we just began building more of that into the site. Um, and in our most popular page, of course, is the where you’ll find calls for submissions because writers are looking for places to publish.
And although Casey’s [00:07:00] intention with new pages was helpful. Readers find good things to read. It shifted to being, um, you know, a great deal, more about writers, being able to find places to present their work, submit their works. But yeah, the reading is still a big part of it. Sure. There’s a huge crossover in that population.
Right. I mean, if you were to put it into a Venn diagram, the readers and writers would be, you know, in poets would be like taken up. The majority of them did. And then you have your outliers, just your, your, uh, your lovers of writing who come in and read. And there still is a great population. I think it’s kind of interesting how people are like, oh, only poets read poetry, which is so not true.
Denise Hill: Yeah. Right, right. Or my, my most, yeah, this isn’t my most hated thing is when people say, oh, I hate poetry. And I’m like, It’s just because you haven’t found poetry, you like yet, you know, it’s, like I said, the same about, uh, red wine, like you red wine gross until a friend of mine was like, [00:08:00] try this kind of red wine, tried this kind of red wine until I’m like, oh, okay.
I get it now. Like, there are different types of. Look at how we talk about beer, right. I mean, right, exactly.
Trish Hopkinson: And it’s it. Isn’t yeah. Poetry is similar, right? It’s not an acquired taste. It’s just finding the one that fits you. And I, a hundred percent agree with that. You know, we’ve got such a spectrum of different types of poetry.
You know, you have slam or spoken word stuff. You have Paige poetry, you have traditional contemporary. You know, formal, so many different things. So, and I mean, people don’t recognize how much poetry is really in their lives, which is, you know, kind of part of my mission with some of my other, you know, more, uh, regional projects.
Trish Hopkinson: So you have held several roles at new pages over the years. And, uh, what’s your favorite thing about being the editor in chief?
Denise Hill: You know, um, uh, some of what you said in the [00:09:00] introduction, um, I teach my teaching is full time. Um, and, and for a long time on top of that, I was doing a lot of the work for new pages with Casey.
And if it, to clarify this we’re married. Right? So like, like, um, when people were like, oh wow. She talks about I’m like her boss, like, does he know? She talks about that? That’s like, yeah, Um, so we did, we did, we got married. And so that’s how he landed his editor in chief. Um, and how, right. Like I moved up through it because I was doing all the work.
Um, he was he’s the business side of it. He’s always been the business side and I have always stayed completely separate from the business side. I was always just about the content and I didn’t want. Um, money or a business model to drive the content decisions for the site. Now that may sound a little odd.
Um, but there are a lot like, like we list literary magazines. Um, not everybody who’s listed, pays to be listed on our site. And that was the startup model. Um, and there is a way [00:10:00] that the site does generate revenue. Um, but the, again, the intention was, if you’re going to have a really great resource for people to come and use, you have to have really good content in that resource.
It can’t only be those who can afford to be in the resource. Like then it doesn’t function in that same way. Um, so when I, when I started. Writing reviews. And then again, as I said, I started building some of that content and helping build the content. It just became bigger and bigger and more of a to manage and I couldn’t do it all.
And so he did hire in, um, you know, his two other employees who work for him. So that helped me move away from some of the tasks and move into like now, as we say, editor in chief, um, But that just leaves me responsible for some decision-making. Um, sometimes arguing about where commas go. Um, and I manage the, I manage the young, the young writers page.
So it’s this whole life over here is very different from my, from my [00:11:00] teacher life. They do, like you’re saying that Venn diagram, they do intersect, they do cross over. Um, but they, they feed such different parts of me and my interest. Um, that that’s, that’s what I love about it. I’ve gotten to know. Writers and publishers and editors and being an editor is a really unique role in the literary community.
Um, and so I really enjoyed that part of it. I don’t profess to be a creative writer. I don’t have a master of fine arts. I have a master of arts in English. Um, I don’t seek to publish myself. I never really have I dabble in it a little bit just for the experience. Um, and I teach professional writing and publishing, but I don’t pursue that for me.
It’s just all about helping people connect and find what it is they’re looking for. I mean, ideally I think I’m a great researcher and so are the people yeah. We’re for new pages, right. We’re really good at researching. Um, and as we do, we’ll, we’ll find [00:12:00] something and think, oh, Hey, so-and-so was interested in this.
Oh, I gotta make sure she gets this. And there’s, we’re always making connections like that. Um, and so the, the connectedness of new pages, being able to help people connect with resources in one another, all of this is incredibly important to me. And like I said, it just sort of feeds a part of me, um, and my creativity in, in different ways.
Trish Hopkinson: That’s awesome. I love exactly what you said there about, you know, having striking that balance, even though they’re in the same realm, just the very, very different approach and just the way that you, the way you think about it and the work that you’re doing is so different. I mean, I have that, I feel very fortunate to have like a wildly different day job, you know, where I’m working in software and all this other, I mean, just wildly different.
Yeah. So when I, you know, clock out for the day and switch gears over to, you know, poetry and community and connectivity, um, and some things like this, you know, really [00:13:00] just, it replenishes me and it’s just, it’s great to have it be, you know, so completely different. So I, I definitely appreciate, you know, everything that you said there. So that’s really great.
Trish Hopkinson: Um, so, you know, what would you like to see more of in the literary community? What do you feel like we’re missing right now?
Denise Hill: Um, that’s a such an interesting question and it comes at a, I think a unique time. We’re all going to be saying this too much, a unique time in our history, but it is, um, because I.
If there was one thing I think I would like to see more, um, it’s more of a collective voice from us. Um, we’re a huge group of people. Uh, when, when I think about. You know, sort of the joke about the masters, creative writing programs being so full of students, I can work creating all of these creative writers, you know, and how is there room for this much creative writing and how many more books of poetry does the world need?
Um, and these are, these are sort of like, you know, fun, philosophical questions, but when, when I think about that, In those conversations, there must be millions and millions and millions of us, you know? Yeah. But we’re not, yeah. We’re not a collective voice. I think we’re lacking that. And it’s not to say that we should all be thinking exactly the same way.
Of course not. Um, or that we ever would or would want to. But when I just think about the value of literature and our society, Why doesn’t it have a greater place? Why doesn’t it have a greater value where there’s millions of us? Um, so where is the movement for this? Um, um, how on, how do we get, how do we get that?
How do we get there? Right. Um, To, to show value for this part of our being human. Um, and, and in creating these works. I just think that there’s more that we could do to, to promote that and, and do that more collectively and more in unity with one another. Um, and it’s not, it’s not taking a political stand, um, in any way, other than just being political for literature and the arts.
Trish Hopkinson: Yep. No, I, I agree with you a hundred percent. That certainly is it’s. It’s funny how, when you talk about reliving poets, how new that sounds to some people, you know, and, um, that was, that was my mission, you know, in living in Utah, before I came here. I had some organizing that we did and some groups that we started, some projects that really focused on, Hey, there are living poets here in your state, wake up, you know, we’re here, we’re, we’re creating today, you know?
So, no, I think that message is really important and, and, you know, supporting arts programming and really nurturing. That is something that, you know, we can all sort of push forward. Right. I mean, to some extent we can vote for, so, I mean, it is political, but, but truthfully those programs are important.
Denise Hill: Yeah. Yeah. If there was a vote as a ballot, I just imagined a Val ballot and it just says poetry. I would vote for it. I mean, who wouldn’t vote for poetry, but what, but what does that mean? We’ve got to make it mean something.
Trish Hopkinson: Absolutely. Absolutely. I love that. That, that’s a great, great answer. What do you think has helped you most like as a writer and teacher through this?
Or, I mean, what, what, what, I mean, when I say what has helped you most also like. In thinking about new pages and what you’ve put into that now. I mean, what, what, I mean, sometimes I find myself going to my own website for information. Right? Like, do you do that with new pages?
Denise Hill: Yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.Constantly.
Um, and I think that speaks to. Um, when I think about what helps me, you know, as a writer, as a teachers and editor, um, connection is always going to be at the top of that list. Just being able to connect with [00:17:00] others. Um, what a lot of what we do is very, is very solitary. Um, but at the same time we don’t do it.
We say this, we don’t do it alone. Um, again, there’s millions of us out there and, and participating in it, um, connecting with others who are participating. Um, creating a sense of community around what you’re doing. Um, I think that’s, that’s a huge part of it not feeling alone. Um, all the time we like to, most of the time, most of us are pretty introverted.
Um, so yeah, we enjoy that space. Um, but I think too, when I look at what, like what you’re saying, I go back to my own website. When I go back to new pages, when I do. It’s a process like writing as a process, teaching as a process I’m working on these websites, it’s a process, there’s a product. Um, but, uh, uh, just a whole new mentality sort of shift I’ve had recently.
Is really focusing on the process. Um, and especially in education. Yeah. You got to give me that final [00:18:00] paper. Uh, and, and teachers, every teacher, I swear, will tell you this, who teaches writing that the worst part of their job is grading. The part we love the best is writing with our students. We love working in the writing with them going through the process with them.
Um, and, and if, and if that was it, like I get it. Show me a paper and they got to put the commas in the right spot. I understand. Um, but it’s that process. And I think with new pages, it’s the process of building that site. And it’s a, it’s a living, breathing site. We keep it up, we keep it, um, relevant and current we’re constantly going through and link checking on it and adding to it.
Right. It’s not static. Um, so. It’s almost like it’s a, it’s something you engage in that process. And our, for our readers, anybody who uses their site, it’s the same. Every time they come to the site, there’s, there’s going to be something new and different there. Right. And so just participating in some way in that process, uh, for others.
Like writers to participate with others in the process, get [00:19:00] together with a writers group, um, and just write together, uh, and share a little bit in those sessions, you know, um, for writers who, and I know this is, this is part, especially for tell, tell, I mean, you got to share your writing with other people.
You’ve got to get feedback. You’ve got to have that other perspective. You’ve got to workshop it. Um, and, and you have to be receptive. To feedback.
Trish Hopkinson: Yes, no, it takes practice, right? It really does. It takes practice and, and to be comfortable in that space and to find the people that you feel safe with, it, it definitely takes practice and building that community is how you get there.
Right? I mean, it’s just like the first time you step up to an open mic. Oh my gosh. I was so nervous and I am an extrovert. Like I don’t, I don’t get nervous. Oh, goodness sakes. It scared me to death. And then the next few that I went to, I had a beer first little liquid courage helps a lot. And then, you know, after I did it, you know, a few [00:20:00] times it started, I started to feel a little safer in that space and there wasn’t so much.
And, uh, the fact that I was creating and participating was more important and that sort of fell away. Right. I got some practice and I felt better about it. So yeah, a hundred percent agree. I mean, community is so, so, so important and a lot of new writers that, you know, hit the scene. They want to get published and they want to be, you know, discovered and you know, really it comes down to focusing on your craft, being a writer, You know, evolving through this process that you just spoke so well of the rest will come organically.
You don’t have to chase it. I mean, you have to be active, but, but yeah, I have to actively chase that pursuit. Right. And have to worry about your writing and your craft, and really put your time there. So really I love what you said there. So give me any specific advice for, you know, folks who are new to the scene for some [00:21:00] of Tell Tell Poetry.
Denise Hill: Well, uh, you know, a lot of what we’ve we’ve said, which is, and I appreciate you saying it, like getting out there and just doing it, you know, and, and doing it more than once. So get connected, find people to work with that you trust, um, and rely on them, um, and, and participate, you know, really, really participate.
It’s not. If you’re not going to be discovered, um, without taking some action, as you said. And, um, like I have, I do, and I submit works and, and it’s, it’s more recently, I’ve gotten to a point where I want to submit work. So I’m more actively looking for, it’s a lot of work. It is a ton of work. And so if there’s anything that you can do or people that you can work with, who can help with that process, um, and expect that it’s going to feel real.
Awkward and, um, time consuming probably the first time through. Um, but then sort of [00:22:00] once you get a hang of it or once you get a system or if you can get help from folks, um, you know, like I know what tell, tell it’s kind of a system they’ve got a platform and a program to work from that I think helps eliminate a lot of that.
Uncertainty or fear or just sense of, I don’t even know how to begin this process. That’s what it looks like they’re there for, right. Is to help with that. Um, so that, that kind of, you know, having something like. Is something to be taken, uh, take advantage of it. Right. Um, participate in it. And even if it’s just like, oh, you do it once.
And then you decide, you can do it, do it on your own or a different way. That’s fine. But at least they got you started. Right. Or it’s something you stay with. So, so find something like that. Um, get out, participate. Just, you have to do it. You have to take risks and you have to do, what’s going to feel really uncomfortable to know what yourself, where we want to be.
Trish Hopkinson: Participating. Right. I mean, if you’re [00:23:00] submitting your work, then you’re working on your craft because you’re trying to get something published and it is sort of like a full circle process. Like the process is the key word here today. I think it’s an amazing focus. So, you know, and there’s, so there are so many great resources, right.
Um, and. You know, new pages obviously is one of those it’s so well organized. Like you said, it’s so up to date all the time, which, you know, I really appreciate, um, running my own site and, you know, it’s smaller. It doesn’t have quite that many resources, but it is, you know, a consistent flow of just keeping everything updated as much as you can.
So, you know, there are, obviously, if you want to participate, you can pretty much. Anything to lead you in the right direction on new pages. So how can folks really sign up to get updates or follow.
Denise Hill: Oh, you know, just go to the site. So www.new pages.com, that’s nice and easy. Um, and you can sign up for, we have a mailing list, which is it [00:24:00] is it’s just our mailing list for our newsletter.
Um, Katie puts together and who’s letter each week and sends that out and it, and it basically says here’s what’s new. Um, so folks who, who cause sometimes people say, I just kind of forget sometimes to come to your site. I totally get it. I totally get it. Um, For everything that we’re doing, but when you get that weekly reminder in the email and you know, and there’s some times I look at it, I go, I don’t have time for it.
Click delete. I’m not reading this week, but then on next week, I’ll have time. I don’t put it together. So I actually read it so I can see what’s new on our site. So that’s a great way to do it. It’s just coming sign up. There’s no cost for it. There’s no cost to use our sites. Um, and I think that that’s a great way to get started.
For the reminder and then to see what’s new and new pages is the kind of resource where you really come to it when you are looking for something, right. Some people say they like to just browse through it, but more often it’s, you’re looking for something, whether it’s just, again, a new [00:25:00] haiku to read or a place to submit a novel.
Um, the young writers guides. That’s another great one. So if you’re working with them yeah. If you’re working with young people at all. Yeah. And those are my. Babies. I, those are mine. I maintain them. They’re totally a hundred percent ad-free I fight with the boss about that, but I insist that they be ad-free and it’s a great way because it’s, you know, it’s the next generation.
Right? So get them involved too. And a lot of times it’s through kids that adults find resources as well. So just being able to share it with others.
Trish Hopkinson: That’s excellent. I love that you focus on, I love that you have that, you know, more Andrews piece and that that’s yours that you own. And I think it is really important and I always get really excited when I find those resources too, to share.
So, yeah. Yeah.
Trish Hopkinson: Well, this has been awesome. It is, uh, Friday still pretty early in the morning or else I would totally have a beer with you right now. I’m going to do that later, this, [00:26:00] this evening, uh, for sure. But it was such a pleasure to meet you. Thank you so much for spending time with and Tell Tell Poetry.
And you know, it’s, it’s a great long weekend it’s Memorial Day weekend here. And so hopefully folks have some, uh, downtime and can get some writing and some submitting done this weekend. So thank you so much again, and everybody, please check out all the great work that, uh, Denise in case you’re up to with newpages.com. Buh-bye!
Denise Hill: Bye. Thank you.