This week we are welcoming one of our newest additions to Sundress Publication’s editorial board– Sherrel McLafferty! We reached out to Sherrel to learn more about her interests, experiences, and what she is looking forward to here at Sundress.
Mary Sims: What attracted you to Sundress Publications?
Sherrel McLafferty: Well, Sundress has always been the cool kid on the block. I’ve excitedly watched Best of the Net noms roll in every year, and who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? When I saw the call to join the editorial board, of course I did some more research. When looking through past publications, I saw collections like Lessons in Breathing Underwater, and I was sold.
MS: What are some things you hope to gain from your new role with us?
SM: Experience. Experience. Experience. I’ve learned from past first reading and editor positions, that every press, journal, and magazine have a slightly different organization behind the scenes. I’ve never worked on full manuscripts, so I’m very curious to learn how we guide writers through their doc/pdf into a published and bound thing in the world. The lit world, especially poetry, is growing and shifting, I want to be a part of whose voices are invited and celebrated.
MS: Your accomplishments in both academia and the literary community are very impressive. How do you intend to incorporate some of these prior experiences in your time at Sundress?
SM: Truly, I have a sick work ethic. I’m like Leslie Knope with less attention to aesthetics of my organizational tools. I use google docs, I use Outlook calendar, (I learned about something called Toggl that might enter the mix) and plan out my work in intervals. This attention to how I spend my time keeps me from getting overwhelmed by tasks. I’m then able to volunteer when needed. I love being the dependable person. If my work with other journals is any indication of the greater community, no one thing is done by one person. I love the feeling of togetherness that goes along with it.
MS: I see that you have many notable publications! Would you mind sharing some thoughts on your favorite pieces?
SM: I’ll share about two. In the latest issue of Notre Dame Review, you will find a very personal poem called “My Mulatto Complex” which is a poem about identity and love. The white space of the poem is extreme, and it can be experienced in more than one direction which was a feat in the revision process. That’s one I’m super proud of. The second I’ll speak about is a recent acceptance in Juked, so I’m unsure when it will drop called “Telemachus.” The poem is a longing about the son of Odysseus. I love writing this poem because I got to embody one of my favorite things to witness: tender masculinity. I love knowing, or creating, men who are fierce but have a softness underneath, and I think that is captured in this poem. Gosh, is it weird to write for yourself?
MS: There is always more depth below the surface, so how would you best describe yourself to the readers of Sundress?
SM: I’m a self-dubbed culture vulture. I read everything, listen to everything, and watch everything. If you ever want to connect with me and have long, drawn-out discussions, jump into my DMs and tell me what you are watching/reading/listening or ask for recommendations.
MS: I see that you are a poetry reader for multiple journals! Could you share with us some of your favorite experiences within the literary community that have led you to where you are now?
SM: As I’ve said in a different question, I love how united every journal/magazine/press feels. I’ve learned so much about working as a team and being open to trying new things. I also love how giving every managing editor has been. If I ever wanted to copyedit, or read for a contest, all I’ve ever had to do is ask. It makes me ask myself, what can I offer to others? All-in-all my experiences from the punk rock FLAPPERHOUSE to the more traditional Mid-American Review, have really made me aware of how symbiotic the community is. We have a small world, y’all. I literally attended a workshop hosted by Barrelhouse and excitedly heard Tyrese Coleman read from her amazing “How to Sit.” Fast-forward a year or two and I am reading for Split Lip Magazine alongside her (though different genres). Anyway, this aside was just to say that there is room for everyone, and everyone can make room.
MS: One of our series “Sundress Reads” focuses on sharing some of our favorite books and collections. Can you share a few of your favorite books with us?
SM: I used to think my favorite collection is whatever I am currently reading– which right now I am still thumbing my way through Pet Sounds by Stephanie Young, would recommend, so good—but, I have changed my mind and am now considering the books I shove down people’s throats. The first book: Tiana Clark’s I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood, which explores identity, trauma, the south, and long talks with the great Nina Simone. Every poem is a gun. It’s great. The complete opposite in tone: Xi Xi’s not written words. Xi is a Hong Kong poet who just gets joy. She captures the rhythm of childhood songs, the fun of tongue twisters, and so much more. It is so rare for me to smile when reading, and this book gave me toothful.
MS: Which experiences have you had that make you feel prepared and excited for your new role at Sundress?
SM: I have a long history with working with lit mags that makes me feel eager and prepared to jump into the larger world of fellowships, manuscripts, and more with Sundress. Not to be the MFA person, but getting my Masters, going to more conferences, especially AWP, pushes me to want to continuously live in the writing world. I love reading work and discussing work; there is nothing that makes me happier.
Sherrel McLafferty is a first-year doctoral student with Rhetoric and Writing Studies at Bowling Green State University, where she also received her BFA and MFA in Poetry. Her poems have been, or will be, featured in Requited Journal, Merrimack Review, ArLiJo, Notre Dame Review, and Juked. She is currently a poetry editor for Pidgeonholes, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and Split Lip Magazine.
Mary Sims is an undergraduate senior working towards her BA in English. She is an editor at Waymark Literary Magazine and has been published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Poetry Annals, Peach Mag, Kingdoms of the Wild, and more. Currently, she splits her time between working as a student editor and laughing over raspberry cappuccinos with friends.