"Everyone on Our Board is Passionate About Exciting New Voices." A Chat With Kelly Luce of Bat City Review
Bat City Review is the kind of magazine that must be experienced to be truly understood. The same could be said for it’s vibrant EIC, Kelly Luce. Luce heads up a medley of literary superheroes, including writers, artists and editors, who all bring their own energy to the party, electrifying each issue.
Bat City Review scoffs at boundaries and shakes its head at the status quo. According to Luce, the magazine’s personality is a “Leo, Capricorn rising, a 5 on the enneagram, and its Myers-Briggs is ESFP. In other words, [it’s] outgoing, risk-taking, and odd, with a side of serious contemplation. The person who thrives at the party, but likes to hide out in a locked bathroom every once in a while.”
Luce takes us on a tour of her life as the magazine’s benevolent queen and gives us some insight into the brain of Bat City Review.
Interview by Sara Palmer.
What stories have you recently published that really exemplify the overall tone of Bat City?
Rachel Yoder's "The Tiny Mens in Your Boobs" from issue 9 is an example of the type of CNF we love: funny, edgy, full of heart. Georgi Tenev's "On the Beautiful Blue Danube," from our tenth anniversary issue, is a Bulgarian translation that's dark, and surprising in a way we hadn't seen before. And then there's Nick Francis Potter's "Winifred, Not a Horse," now infamous in Bat City circles for the riots it caused upon discussion. I can't describe that story. It must be read to be experienced.
When you create a magazine that has as many elements as Bat City, how do you create a cohesive flow?
It's funny how themes emerge, even among what at first might seem like a motley collection of stories, art, and poems. Each piece has a specific energy, but the magazine itself has an energy, too, that comes from the sum of its parts. Our managing editor does a great job of assembling everything and making it feel whole. The visual art we include does a lot of work in setting a context for the magazine, too; we try to match the literary energy with the visual energy. That way, even if you read pieces with different aesthetics, they still resonate with something visual you've encountered already.
We look for work we find underrepresented in literary magazines...A range of voices matters to us.
Bat City hosts quite a few readings, at least that's the impression I get from your Facebook page! How do these readings complement what's happening in the magazine?
We love parties! We host a monthly reading series featuring emerging writers from the UT MFA programs and the occasional local writer, as well as readings at Lit Crawl and AWP. The monthly series connects the wider community with new work from writers they may not know of (yet), which is also a goal our magazine. Our AWP and Lit Crawl events highlight our Bat City authors and their latest accomplishments.
What traditional literary magazine rules does Bat City intentionally try to break?
We look for work we find underrepresented in literary magazines: translations from languages not commonly translated into English, long fiction, experimental creative non-fiction. A range of voices matters to us. We want to represent women, the LGBT community, racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities. We publish a lot of really cool art, and have flexibility with the length of our issues. We never feel like we have to fill pages. And we aren't worried about sticking to a specific zone of taste, even within a single issue.
Editors have to deal with a lot of both glamour and gore (metaphorical, of course... I hope). What's the goriest part of your job? What's the most glamorous?
Being in a position to encourage writers, and discover new voices, makes one feel like a benevolent queen. Everyone on our board is passionate about exciting new voices, and we work together to carefully read through submissions, and to solicit writers we've read elsewhere As for gore, it's never fun to turn down pieces from writers we admire, especially if we've asked them to send work.
Sara Palmer, M.A., has a bachelor's in journalism and recently earned her master's in English with a concentration in creative writing. She is excited to no longer be a starving graduate student. Instead, she is now proudly working as a starving writer. Her work has appeared in Gravel, Hobo Pancakes, Allusions and Nick Belardes. In order to feed herself and her two cats, she teaches freshmen English, freelances in digital communications and teaches yoga. In her spare time she is desperately trying to finish a jigsaw puzzle of a Jackson Pollock painting.