Journals We Love: Editor Spotlight — Annie Schumacher

Annie Schumacher is a poet and translator. She is the Assistant Poetry Editor and Audio Editor at The Cortland Review, Social Media Editor for the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences, and Co-Director of The Unamuno Author Series. Recent publications can be found in The London Magazine, California Quarterly, Poetry London, and On the Seawall. She lives in Barcelona. 

Devin Jones: First, I would love to compliment the hard work that you and your team put into The Cortland Review. When I first visited the site, I became entranced with everything there was to read, watch, or listen to. I find it exciting as a reader to find an online space that is so thoroughly organized. Could you talk about some of the decisions you all make as editors in terms of how an issue is organized?

Annie Schumacher: Thank you so much. 

As editors, we all work independently and have autonomy within our roles. Each issue is a compilation of poems that have filtered through the editors, and our Editor-in-Chief, Christian Gullette, makes the final decisions and shapes the issue. We seem to have a good deal of synergy within the group.

DJ: I love that every published piece has audible (and sometimes visual) content. I find that listening to an author adds another layer of connection for the reader. As the Audio Editor for The Cortland Review, would you be willing to share a bit about that process? How are you able to capture, edit, then publish the audible tracks in tandem with the poems?

AS: I love being the Audio Editor. It deepens the publication process; listening to each poet’s voice adds richness to the poem. It’s exciting to hear the poems after they’ve been accepted to publish, to be part of the process in the beginning as Assistant Poetry Editor, and then when we’re getting ready for publication, I put on my Audio Editor hat. 

Our team is scattered across multiple time zones, and we’ve created an audio editing process that works well for us. Laura Van Prooyen, our Managing Editor, receives the audio files from the authors, compiles them, and forwards them to me. I edit the tracks one by one, getting a feel for them and making sure they align with the poem/s about to be published, and upload them to SoundCloud. Then, they’re embedded on the website when we’re ready to publish. 

DJ: Along with being the Audio Editor for The Cortland Review, you are also the Assistant Poetry Editor. I imagine balancing both jobs can be demanding. How do you manage the audio editing together with the poetry editing? Do they closely interact, or is there some level of distance between them?

AS: There is a distance between the two roles, they’re more like bookends of our publication process. Gustavo Hernandez, my partner in crime and fellow Assistant Poetry Editor, and I do an initial read of all the submissions. A month or two later, after Christian has made the final decisions for the issue, I receive all the audio files from Laura and edit them for publication. It is quite satisfying to be part of the initial editing phase and then again before we’re nearly ready to publish. 

DJ: Could you talk a bit more about your role as the Assistant Poetry Editor? On average, how many submissions would you say the journal receives? Would you be willing to share some details, or insider tips, regarding The Cortland Review’s selection process for interested authors?

AS: As Assistant Poetry Editors, Gustavo and I read all the submissions and make the initial selections. What we select moves on to the Poetry Editor, which then moves forward to the Editor-in-Chief. During this initial reading period, Gustavo and I are each reading approximately 450-500 submissions of five poems each, so that’s about 2250 poems. 

As for some tips about submitting…

  • It sounds simple, but send your best poems. 
  • Order counts. Put your strongest poem first. 
  • Don’t send less than five poems. Our editors want to get a feel for your work, and it’s challenging to grasp with less than five poems.

DJ: You are an editor of multiple mediums, and I want to know how poetry and audio work together for you. When it comes to received submissions, is there something that resonates with you while reading them? After receiving the audio for selected poems, do those feelings change? Or perhaps develop further? Is there something that never fails to impress you?

AS: When I’m reading submissions, I’m looking for the poem that pulls me in closer. A poem that washes over me, or stirs me, that makes me sit up straighter at my desk. It’s simultaneously intuitive and exhilarating when this happens. 

Then, months later when I’m editing the audio before publication, I’m able to interact with some of those poems again, and discover new ones. Hearing the author’s voice always deepens the experience, and sometimes the poem can resonate in a completely different way. I’m particularly impressed by the music of certain poems, which can get lost when they’re not read aloud. I’m grateful to be part of both processes and find them inspiring for my own work. I always read my own poems aloud because of this experience.

DJ: Thank you, Annie, for joining me and answering my questions about The Cortland Review. Before I go, I would like to get to know you a little better. Would you be willing to discuss what you are currently reading, or listening to? What got you into the world of poetry? Is there an author or poem in particular that you would recommend readers to check out?

AS: It was at the Unamuno Author Series Festival in Madrid where I met Christian Gullette, TCR’s Editor-in-Chief, and we have been working together since 2020. A few years before that, I plunged into the world of poetry when I met the poet Spencer Reece, who became my mentor. We were both living in Madrid at the time and found each other through Desperate Literature bookshop. Spencer was running the Unamuno Author Series and invited me to be on the team. As our friendship grew, our team planned and hosted an international poetry festival and published a bilingual anthology in 2019. At Spencer’s encouragement, I applied for a work-study scholarship at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2019, and I am ever grateful for his encouragement, friendship, and for his belief in my writing.  

What am I currently reading? Today I finished I Watch the Boughs by Emily Lee Luan. These poems enveloped me, they’re open, aching, and alluring — here is a poet that holds us firmly in her gaze. Sinks draining, heavy sunflowers, laughter, loneliness, grandfather myths, cheerleading, Taoist prayers. I loved this chapbook, and I can’t wait until her debut full-length collection, RETURN, comes out from Nightboat Books in 2023.

Devin Jones is a creative writing alum from the University of Central Missouri. They graduated with a B.A. in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Digital Media Production. Devin’s poetic goal is to sprinkle some seeds of love into their readers’ hearts while tending to their reader’s gardens of thought. When not writing poetry in nature, Devin works as a florist to create blooming art for all to enjoy. Devin can also be found gaming with their boyfriend, or caring for their plethora of plants.

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