### Q&A With Editor Max Roland Ekstrom
*Max Roland Ekstrom holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. His poetry appears frequently in a variety of literary and academic journals, such as* Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics*,* The Hollins Critic, *and* New American Writing*.*
Q: Why did you want to start a poetry journal?
A: Two journals I admire closed in recent years: *Hubbub*, edited by Lisa Steinman and Jim Shugrue, and *The Aurorean*, edited by Cynthia Brackett-Vincent. *Hubbub* was beautifully curated and printed. *The Aurorean* had an incredible sense of place; it was a journal of New England.
Q: *The Pierian* does sound like *The Aurorean*. Was that on purpose?
A: It’s a nice coincidence. I hope Ms. Brackett-Vincent is flattered—and takes it as an homage. The actual origin of our name is a reference to Alexander Pope.
Q: Do you think *The Pierian* is successfully filling the gap those journals left?
A: *The Pierian* must pursue its own mission on its own terms. I’m inspired, but not defined, by my predecessors. Many poetry journals are essentially indistinguishable from one another. That’s a problem.
Q: Despite recent attrition, there is no shortage of journals out there. Can *The Pierian* distinguish itself?
A: The community response has been amazing. It’s a special opportunity I don’t take lightly, so we’ll just take one issue at a time. I’m also very fortunate to have Keeley Schell as my editorial copilot, as she offers a corrective to that impulse to seize a work as an expression of contemporaneity.
Q: What do you mean by poems as an “expression of contemporaneity”?
A: Busy people tend to read poetry in the socio-political moment—editors and readers alike. The distraction of the “now,” amplified by technology, disrupts our ability to get deep. That’s why rediscovering classical traditions in contemporary poetry is core to our mission.
Q: Any tips for submitters?
A: We don’t read your portfolio front to finish. Our technology enforces anonymity by normalizing font and formatting while shuffling up all the poems. It’s like a Spotify of everything we’ve recently received. So send us pieces that stand on their own. Be bold!
### Winter Simul Submissions
Beat the winter blues and submit up to three poems simultaneously between now and April 1. We look forward to seeing your best material!
Use this special link [here](https://www.thepierian.org/solicited/LEOPARD23) to get started!
### Q&A with Editor Keeley Schell
*Keeley Schell holds a PhD in Classics from Brown University. Her dissertation focused on metaphor and allusion in Vergil’s epic poem, The Aeneid. She is the librarian at St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski, Vermont, and adjunct professor of classics at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.*
“Poetry is one of the few things I still read like a child,” says *The Pierian* editor Keeley Schell.
What does she mean by that? We ask.
“By day I work in a library. And when I come home at night, I sometimes bring a book for one of my kids. If it’s something they’re into, they flop down on the couch and start reading, and before the evening is out they’ve devoured the whole thing. If it’s one of my daughters, I’ll probably find her there rereading it the next day,” says Schell.
What does that have to do with contemporary verse?
“A lot of what I read in graduate school and afterwards, as a professional, is very dense and needs to be grasped in small chunks. It’s a delight to try to appreciate a work of literature organically as a whole, and you can do that with poetry collections. I always try to read a new poetry book in the space of one day. Then I let it percolate in, see what jumps out in my mind and if I have to reread all or part in order to fully process it.”
Asked whether this applies to the classics, Schell laughs. “No, I’m too nitpicky when I encounter a classical translation or edition for the first time. I get down in the weeds and am not going to be finishing it in one day. Seeing a production of a Greek dramatical work is the closest I can get to that holistic experience, within my discipline.”
Any favorites there?
“Well, for sheer number of different productions I’ve seen, Euripides’ *Helen* has to top the list. I think I have seen it in four very different renditions. It’s a good play and can support that better than, say, *As You Like It*. I would really love to see Sophocles’ *Ajax* and Aristophanes’ *Clouds* as live stage productions.”
### Nine Issues. 43 Poems. 26 Poets.
And one more issue to go for 2023!
*The Pierian* is looking forward to crowning its debut year with a final web issue set for October, and a marvelous print omnibus of all ten issues at year-end. We’ll keep you in the loop on how to order your own copy, and as well as preview as to its contents and highlights.
In the meantime, enjoy our fantastic September issue featuring new work from __Zachary Daniel__, __Philip Dunkerly__, __Beth McDonough__, and __Lilith Morgan Elliot__.
### September Featured Poet: Lilith Morgan Elliot
For the second month in a row, we are thrilled to be highlighting a professional educator as Featured Poet. Lilith Morgan Elliott teaches high school English Language Arts in Georgia. She studied English and earned an M.A.T. at Clayton State University. Lilith was also published in *The Pierian*’s inaugural issue in 2022.
In Lilith’s own words: “Her work often explores the role of language in shaping identity and draws from her experiences as a transfeminine woman.”