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Friday, May 23, 2014

Behind the Masthead: Jacqueline Balderrama

You’ve already met new international poetry editor Brian Bender and new prose editor Gary Garrison—now we’re pleased to introduce to you our new poetry editor, Jacqueline Balderrama. The new staff is already hard at work on the fall issue, combing through the submissions to their flash prose contest (deadline today!). Kacie Blackburn caught up with Jackie to discuss what she looks for in poetry submissions and what inspires her own poetry.

Kacie Blackburn: What do you do as a poetry editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review?

Jacqueline Balderrama: Dorothy Chan and I each work as poetry editors. We read submissions that have made it through our readers and make the final call on whether or not to accept. When the journal’s selections are final, I will also help in arranging the work and making edits.

KB: Do you look for anything specific in poetry submissions?

JB: When I read work, I look for fresh language, a fresh perspective, basically anything that is trying something new and insightful in an interesting way. This can be the topic, formatting, or a unique image that makes this poem stand out from the others. So I don’t think it's anything specific, really. Essentially it needs to carry my attention and originate an idea worth considering.

KB: Are there any specific forms of poetry that spark your interest?

JB: I don't look for a specific form but try to see the merit in all styles. Some are certainly more difficult to achieve than others. I think the variety in the journal speaks to our ability to accept multiple forms and maintain our focus on quality. Certainly new editors are introduced every year or so. This also adds to the unique quality of each issue.

KB: Who is your absolute favorite poet? Why?

JB: I have difficulty choosing favorites. I feel that certain poets were and are influential and inspiring at certain points. Philip Levine and Larry Levis, whose work I was introduced to in my undergraduate, were instrumental in refining the quality of my work to help me get here, ASU. I was always concerned with the distinctions between poetry and fiction as an undergrad, and their work helped me to see the narrative qualities that overlap with poetry.

KB: Do you write any poetry in your spare time?

JB: Yes! I try to be creative everyday, whether it’s writing or keeping my mind open to ideas (carrying around a notebook). Good poems come from so many things. Often it’s something I want to preserve like a family story. Other times I’m just trying to interpret parts of our everyday life that are both ugly and beautiful.

KB: Have you worked with HFR before this semester?

JB: Before this semester, I served as a second reader, so I understand the process—where the work is coming from and what series of study it undergoes.

KB: What have you enjoyed most, so far, working with HFR?

JB: So far, I’ve enjoyed working with the other editors mostly. I love the process of working on a collaborative project and feel so honored to be serving such a respected literary journal.


Jacqueline Balderrama grew up in Redlands, California. Currently, she is pursuing an MFA in poetry at Arizona State University where she teaches and serves as Poetry Editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. Her work has appeared in Solo Novo, and she has a forthcoming publication in Miramar. She spends the remainder of her time at trivia and sharing space with her asymmetrical parakeet, Georgia O.

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