Rachel Nix: Kate, your editorial prowess is pretty impressive. First, let’s talk about your involvement with Pankhearst, and more specifically, the Slim Volume series. What’s that about and how’d your brilliantly blue-haired self get involved?
Kate Garrett: My first contact with Pankhearst was in 2013. Evangeline [Jennings, founding editor] tweeted some Lemonheads lyrics, and I tweeted back about them. Obviously a shared love of Evan Dando tunes is enough to attract the right kind of attention – she read my website, asked if I wanted to submit anything to HEATHERS (our YA fiction anthology).
Fast forward a year: I’d written a story in poems and flash fiction, Bewitched, for the Pankhearst Singles Club when Evie asked if I’d like to maybe edit a poetry journal for Pankhearst. I thought there should be flash fiction involved as well (of course, see Bewitched). And I liked the idea of themed anthologies rather than a journal – more room, more scope. So that’s the story. The first Slim Volume came out in December, called No Love Lost, and has an anti-romance theme. Our second Slim Volume, Wherever You Roam, is all about writing that makes place more than just a setting. The latter is currently being proofread and designed, and will be published sometime in May.
RN: Then there’s three drops from a cauldron, which is as amazing as the title would have us believe. What’s the motivation behind starting that webzine?
KG: The motivation behind three drops is my own intense obsession with folklore, mythology and fairytales. These are stories that won’t die as long as there are people around to tell them. Some are more obscure than others – I remember my grandpa telling me Tennessee stories when I was a kid, rural rather than urban legends. He told me things like how a woman tricked ‘a friend of his brother’ into eating puppy stew, or how the Wampus Cat prowled the mountains. I also adored the ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ books in the late 80s and early 90s – creepy-ass ink drawings and well told, terrifying folk tales; what’s not to love? Now I live in Sheffield, which even has its own ghost tours. If I could be anything other than a poet and editor, I’d be a folklorist. (This probably goes without saying at this point.)
So anyway – a metric crap ton of writers are influenced by oral traditions, myths, fairytales. Sometimes the influence comes out in a retelling, and sometimes it’s used as a subtle metaphor, but either way, I wanted a cosy, yet eerie, place where people’s best poetry in this vein could be on show. You know, a virtual bonfire to sit around with our poem-stories. And I couldn’t be more proud of it – I feel very fortunate to receive such a high standard of submissions so far. A print anthology of selected poems is coming out in August, and with any luck it’ll be an annual occurrence.
RN: Speaking of three drops of a cauldron, I have a very serious question: what’s your favorite witch movie? I can’t decide between The Craft and Hocus Pocus, but no one asked me, probably because of what I just said. Also, I’m aware you don’t publish movies, but this is my interview and I’m incapable of seriousness. There was a question back yonder somewhere; let’s have your pick!
KG: There is no shame in loving The Craft! It’s a great film. Fairuza Balk was, is and ever shall be a goddess. That aside, I’m going to go with The Wicker Man (the original from 1973, not that Nicolas Cage thing…). It’s not a standard witch movie, but it is an excellent old school horror film involving a pagan community, plus burning effigies, and Beltane celebrations, and Christopher Lee. It’s witchy enough for me.
RN: To those who are considering creating their own publication, do you have any advice?
KG: My advice would be to stop considering, and create it. But be aware of how much of your time it will take up, and how much work it will be. Also be aware that with acceptances, you also have to hand out rejections – that part is never fun. (You thought I was going to say ‘with great power comes great responsibility’, huh? That too.)
However, to be given the privilege of reading so many ace new poems and/or stories, and being able to showcase them, is absolutely worth all the late nights, early mornings, tough decisions, and squeezing editing around three children, a day job, and my own writing.
I thought about starting three drops from a cauldron for over a year before I actually just jumped in and did it. It didn’t need those extra 12 months to marinate – I knew it had to be a thing from the moment the idea hit me. So yes: go forth, make stuff happen. For the sake of your literary vision, and for all those writers who don’t yet know they’re writing something you, The Editor Of An Awesome Publication, will think is perfect.
RN: What have you learned being behind the scenes of a small press? Does it ever inspire your own writing?
KG: Another nod to the Pankhearst crew of super badass women – what I have learned behind the scenes of our collective is that a team of passionate indie editors and writers can and will achieve fucking brilliant things. It does inspire my writing too – mostly in the sense that Pankhearst is a welcoming place, an open-minded place. I’m doing what I wanted to do from the time I was four years old – writing, reading, giving books to the world, working with words.
RN: With a bit of stalking, I’ve found out you’re from Ohio but you now live in the UK. I would imagine it’s quite different there, both culturally and in regards to the landscape. I also may have Googled where you live in a super non-creepy way, and might have been in awe of the beauty. It has to affect your writing, yeah?
KG: It’s an honour to be stalked by one such as yourself! But yeah, I have lived in the UK for almost my entire adult life, including that beginning bit where I was old enough to drink in the UK, but still had a few years left in the States. I love it here. Sheffield has inspired a few of my poems, as has the nearby Peak District, because the urban/rural contrast is very immediate, and yes, parts of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire are stunning. But Ohio has affected my work as well; it’s inevitable (for me) that where I’ve been comes out in my writing. I’m a secret place poet – even though there’s always more human experience in my stuff than anything else, I go back to places again and again. My first published poem back in 1997 or 98, when I was in my last year of high school, was about living twenty miles east of Cincinnati in a little village, and the contrast between urban and rural life. I don’t have that poem anymore, but I can definitely remember where I started when I look at what I’m doing now…
RN: Where can we find your latest work? You can’t just publish others all the time, after all. Let’s see your stuff.
KG: Well … my debut pamphlet ‘The names of things unseen’ was released in February as part of Caboodle, a six-collections-in-one volume from Prolebooks. The other poets in the collection (Karina Vidler, Gill McEvoy, Russell Jones, Angela Croft and Rafael Miguel Montes) are all brilliant, so yes, it’s good to be part of it.
My prose poem ‘Leah’ featured in the launch post of Black Sheep Journal in March, and my poem ‘When I think about Hans Christian Andersen’ will appear in print (and PDF) in Prole Issue 16 (April). I’m currently working on a chapbook of pirate poems, which will be published by Pankhearst later in the year, with any luck. The chance to do this pleases me more than anything writerly thing I’ve done so far.
RN: What journals are you a fan of? Do you have any favorite writers you want us to go stalk? I think it’s apparent we’re into that.
KG: Too many journals, so I’ll pick one from the UK – Bare Fiction – and one from the USA – Midwestern Gothic. They are both consistently interesting, top quality (independent) publications.
If you want to know which writers to stalk, I am currently reading Selkie Singing at the Passing Place, a poetry collection by Sarah Miller and Melanie Rees, and it has blown me away. Everyone should read it. Get it now. It’s heart-grabbingly gorgeous, and magical, too.
RN: What’s your favorite book? Like the book you’d clutch to if a seven-headed beast with nine arms and no shoes were chasing you through the Black Forest, wanting nothing but that book…and some nice shoes, obviously.
KG: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. Holly Golightly is a very complex muse – she’s simultaneously what I’ve been and what I would never be. And either way, it’s a bloody beautifully written book.
RN: Since this is our He Said/She Said issue, what’s your favorite quote? I know you have a gorgeous Sylvia Plath quote tattooed on your forearm, so you quite likely have a thing for incredible statements.
KG: Possibly ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’, which is the first line of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Or maybe it’s ‘Rock n roll is our epiphany: culture, alienation, boredom and despair’ which is from Little Baby Nothing by Manic Street Preachers. I can never decide.
RN: Got a question for us? About the publication, the staff, which fairy-tale princess we think has the most STDs? We have no secrets here. But don’t ask me about my grandmother’s red velvet cake recipe because I don’t have it.
KG: Well do you have a decent carrot cake recipe instead? No … well, okay – give me your best bit of little-known local folkore, or urban legend, please. Whether it’s where you live now, or somewhere you’ve lived previously (that’s place and folklore wrapped neatly in one package, and it would make me supremely happy to know). Thank you!
RN: I suppose the most told folklore around my area is that of Aunt Jenny Johnson. There are quite a few versions to the story but I’m gonna share the one that I like best. I live in Northwest Alabama, about 15 minutes from the Bankhead Forest, where her home was tucked away in the hills. Anyhow, during the 1860s she and her husband were rumored to have hid and fed Union men and Confederate deserters who were hiding out in the forest. At some point, the Home Guard Patrol, who were put in place to find draft-dodgers or those who weren’t paying their taxes for the war, came up to their place to either try to draft her husband and son or to punish her husband for treason. Either way, her husband was lynched to a tree; while he was hanging there still alive, the oldest boy came running out to try to save his father and the soldiers shot him down. His father, after seeing his son die, was then shot while hanging there.
Aunt Jenny made all of her boys (I believe there was somewhere between 8-10 of them) take a blood oath to avenge the death of their father and brother by killing all eight of the guards responsible. She killed the leader of the men first and supposedly made a soap dish out of his skull. All in all, her, her boys, and even her later husband’s sons murdered seven out of the eight men they were after. She outlived all but maybe one of them; the others died from bullet wounds. I think she was 98 when she finally passed on and said on her deathbed that she was proud of her boys for dying like men and with their boots on.
The legend goes that since she’d swore she’d avenge her husband’s death by killing all eight men responsible and only got seven of them, her ghost remains on or near the property waiting for the eighth to show up. While she was known to be a kind and generous woman to most, the story is her ghost isn’t nearly as patient. If you come onto her property, she’ll warn you to get off. People say that if you park over by the cemetery near her home (which was burned down years ago), and turn your engine off, you’ll see a green glowing light move toward you. Some folks hear her and her boys hollering to get off their property. Some have reported hearing drumming sounds.
Kate Garrett was born thirtysomething years ago in southwestern Ohio, but has lived all of her adult life in the UK. She writes poetry and flash fiction, and edits other people’s poetry and flash fiction. Her debut pamphlet ‘The names of things unseen’ has just been published by Prolebooks as part of Caboodle, a six-collections-in-one collection, and her Kindle single Bewitched has been a consistent bestseller since its release in May 2014. In real life she lives in Sheffield with a man-poet, three smalls, and a cat, and on the internet she lives here, where you can visit her any time: www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk.