Interview with RD Armstrong, Editor-In-Chief of Lummox Journal, Lummox Press
— by Carol Smallwood

RD Armstrong is editor-in-chief of Lummox Journal, Lummox Press   

1. Please describe your website and your duties as editor-in-chief.

As to my duties as "head Lummox"...I pretty much do anything and everything. This is essentially a one man operation. I do have an excellent art director, Chris Yeseta, who does layouts for me (for the books, etc...been with me since 1997!), but I do the rest of it, including helping create the covers for many of the books we have done together over the years.

As Editor-in-chief, it's my job to solicit material for the project (right now I'm working on the second LUMMOX anthology); read submissions; accept what I like and reject what I don't. Next I will be putting the issue in order which entails arranging the poetry, essays, reviews and interviews, along with bios and table of contents...I also have to write a lead essay to introduce the issue and its theme: place. And while I'm doing that, I'm also going to be soliciting ads for the issue with the help of a friend of mine. 

I'm also publishing books, which means doing a lot of hand-holding with authors, whilst cajoling the material from them for what I hope will be a successful book. This month I published three books, which is unusual, but I have been out of action and have fallen behind, so had to do 3 books at once. And there are more books in the wings! And there's the website which I am having remodeled. So, all in all, I'm pretty busy...too bad I don't get a salary for doing all this...everything I do is speculative. I will make some money someday, I just don't know when.

2. Tell us about your own work as a writer:

I have been writing since I was in high school. My poetry from back then was pretty horrible. I kept a journal, like a diary, for years but eventually stopped in the mid-eighties. In fact I stopped writing altogether for about 10 years from '84 to '93. And when I started writing again, I found that my "voice" had matured. I started to submit work to little magazines previously unknown to me (didn't even know there was much of a scene going on), but gave up on them when I didn't like the treatment I got. Started my own mag (Lummox Journal) in '95 and began to self-publish myself and others. Have done so ever since (only had 1 book and 1 chapbook published by others). Now if I send out it's usually by invitation of the editor. I've always believed in DIY. If you don't like the way things are, do it yourself. I try to do things the best way I can. So far, I've had few complaints.
3. What writers have influenced you the most?

Lately I am influenced by the work of Bill Taylor, Jr., Bill Gainer, Frances LeMoine, Christine DeSimone, Rick Smith, John Macker, Jason Hardung, Nick Belardes,
Billy Collins, Kenny Rexroth, John Thomas, H. Lamar Thomas, Gil Hagen-Hill...oh it's a long list. I must stipulate that their influences aren't so much about style as to how they have touched me as a poet and writer...the human connection. Writing is a lonely project and it's very easy to get lost in one's own solitude. So it's important to be able and reach out and connect with a fellow sufferer. 

4. What are the most common writing mistakes you see?

That's pretty subjective. In terms of style, poems that are gimmicky, like using a lot of buzz words to make up for there being little substance or no point.  I'm not too keen on rhyming poetry, simply because most people don't understand how a rhyme is supposed to work. Also, sending out work without correcting spelling or grammatical errors (who doesn't have spell-check these days?) is just plain annoying. And when did the contraction for "you are" become "your"? I have had to learn how to be a good speller by editing thousands of pages of text over the years. Maybe everybody should try that!

5. What classes have you taken that have helped you the most?

Sorry to say, but I have never taken a class on writing poetry or prose or anything else that I have taken up. I've just picked it up along the way. I never went to college, unless you count the School of Hard Knocks, from which you can only matriculate by dying...I hope that won't happen for some years yet. 6. What advice would you give other writers?

Write for yourself. Forget about the audience or what I like to call the "unknown reader". Tell your story as honestly as you can...I say this as a poet who writes in a narrative style. If you are writing fiction, this may not apply, though to be a good storyteller you have to be believable, you have to either be a great liar or as honest as possible. Get used to being fact if you are truly writing for yourself, then rejection can't hurt you. Rejection can teach you better than acceptance. Likewise with criticism. Don't be afraid to have your work taken apart, you might learn something.

Carol Smallwood’s books include Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching, foreword by Molly Peacock (McFarland, 2012) on Poets & Writers Magazine list of Best Books for Writers