That’s one reason it’s frankly exciting to be at BuzzFeed, is I don’t feel like we’re playing catch up. It’s very different. It’s interesting to see people and media organizations and literary journals at different points on the continuum to their relationship to the internet and what it means when you have to reimagine your literary journal or your book list to come to terms with digital life as opposed to being native. That’s something I’m really grateful for. I started a Wordpress blog when I was in graduate school and I think I joined Twitter probably the summer right before I started that program. In that way it’s always been a part of what became a sense of my public life as a writer.
SA: In terms of the question of how quality is preserved in the digital space, what are the challenges there beyond the technophobic literati might be clinging to. What are the barriers there and what are some of the advantages of being digital?
SJ: I think quality is even more important now. To use the social web as an example: What’s great about the web is it’s easy for something to be shared. Patricia Lockwood’s rape poem. Excellent work can get out there and take off in a way that even just 5 years ago, the idea of a poem going viral? A literary poem? A poem about rape culture? But it’s possible.
The problem is if the quality isn’t there, it also means either horrible or horrible and problematic work can also go viral, can also take off. So I think that’s the other side of the coin when we’re talking about accessibility. I think it’s even more important that the work we publish is excellent. Excellent. Because now it has a bigger platform. There’s more adrenaline, I guess, in the ecosystem. We really have to think more closely. One of the luxuries when you have a small print journal is that it’s more of an object of community and is more local. That allows the work that’s published to really thrive and be in conversation with that local community of writers and readers and that allows for a lot more freedom. You can mess up. You can be a little more creative and sloppy. You can make a mistake and then correct it and it’s an on-going conversation.