I’m pleased to introduce the new environmental literary journal The Hopper, along with a Q&A with the founders.
Tell us a bit about The Hopper and how it came to be.
Green Writers Press (our mother organization) produced one issue of a more casual and smaller distribution magazine called Greenzine last April 2015. When Sierra Dickey got involved with GWP as a poetry editor, the previous editors of Greenzine had since left the press. She was interested in the periodical process and decided to revive the publication and bring it up to a place where it could compete with other regional literary magazines.
What types of writing are you looking for?
We are interested in writing that examines the intersection of nature and culture, that explores human and more-than-human connections, and that articulates unique human experiences in nature. We are also interested in work that challenges environmental injustice and investigates the impacts of modernity. We publish poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, science narratives, ecocriticism, interviews, and book reviews, in addition to visual art.
We are currently running our first annual Hopper Prize for Young Poets poetry contest. The winning chapbook will receive $500 and publication. Please do learn more about it here.
Tell us a bit about your editors and backgrounds?
Dede Cummings is our publisher. At Middlebury, she studied poetry and was recently (30 years later) awarded a writer’s grant and a partial fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. She is a book designer and letterpress aficionado and she loves designing the words of others.
Sierra Dickey is the founding editor who now oversees long term business development and organizes the Room for Craft interviews. An environmental humanities major at Whitman College, Sierra was sold on eco lit when she realized how crucial literature is to one’s understanding of the natural world.
Rose Alexandre-Leach works with our writers of prose and manages The Hopper’s website. She studied biology at Oberlin College and came to publishing by way of science education. She believes in the power of a good story.
Jenna Gersie is our grammar guru. She completed her master’s degree in environmental studies with a concentration in writing and communications at Green Mountain College. She works in environmental education and study abroad and is passionate about place-based literature and meanings of home.
Anna Mullen studied environmental literature at Middlebury College and the Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference. She works in farm education and communications at Retreat Farm. Anna loves to read writing that reminds us that scientific soundings and artistic inquiries are not so different as we might believe.
We also have had great support from Green Writers Press editor John Tiholiz and interns Kaitlyn Plukas, Ron Anahaw, Emily Blohm, and Ferne Johansson, all students at Bennington College.
What writers inspire you?
We are all fans of classic “pioneering” nature essayists with our own contributing quirks. Jenna is a Hermann Hesse devotee, Sierra could read Mary McCarthy for weeks, Rose will read anything with a dragon on the cover, Anna loves reading about sea and space voyages, and Dede is a poetry hound—she loved it when her mentor, the Vermont poet Galway Kinnell, was asked if he was a “nature poet,” to which he replied, “What other kind of poet is there?”
What advice do you have for writers of environmental poetry and prose?
Please read widely (we’re all big proponents of opening up the nature writing canon) and eschew clichés. The weirder angle you have on an experience or a natural object, the better. Try to enter the mind of George Saunders’ and Annie Dillard’s hypothetical child. Pay attention to and discuss non-natural things to bring your real ideas about nature to light. Stop using the word nature.
Author of the novels The Tourist Trail and Where Oceans Hide Their Dead. Co-founder of Ashland Creek Press and editor of Writing for Animals (also now a writing program).