Kiyani Carter, Teen Editor-in-Chief

What do you look for in a prose submission you upvote for publication?

I tend to look for intentional writing as I read the submissions. One of the easiest ways to tell whether or not I’ll like a piece up front is seeing whether or not the writer is skillful in their techniques and devices, and meaningful and intentional with every word to achieve their desired impression on the reader. I think it’s mesmerizing when a prose writer can do this well.

What do you look for in a group of poems you upvote for publication?

I find that the most difficult part of writing poetry is using precise language that is neither cliched nor unreasonably obscure and matching it well to the poem’s structure. Most of the pieces I upvoted had an impressive cadence to them, stunning imagery, or both.

What would you like to see more of in the submissions to the teen issues of Inlandia, and what would you like to see less?

I would like to see more digital art! There was more of that in previous years– I always thought that digital art styles matched well with the journal. There isn’t anything in particular that I would like to see less of, but if I had to choose, I tend to dislike pieces that are only submitted because of extra credit assignments assigned by teachers, specifically when the student submitting is transparent in their neutrality towards their piece. It’s a bit obvious when we receive something that was not done out of free will or independent creativity.

What tips would you give unpublished teen writers who are trying to get their first story or group of poems published in a literary journal?

I find that the most important step in writing is developing your idea before you even begin writing– if you aren’t sure how you want your piece to make the reader feel or the general impression you’re aiming for, it’s more likely your piece will lose its effectiveness.

What writing projects are you working on now?

I’m currently attempting to improve my own poetry skills as well as edit some of my previously written, longer works of prose. I’m preparing to write second and third drafts of them–nothing too specific.

What else do you do that brings you joy?

I also enjoy singing, playing the piano, and language learning! 

What book have you read recently that you think would be helpful to emergent writers? What book have you read recently that you love and are recommending to all your friends?

A book I would recommend to emerging writers is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert–it is a very inspiring and motivational book about creativity, which personally helped change my perspective on the creative process of writing. I feel it would be very helpful to writers, especially those who may feel that their writing or artistry is in a rut. A book I loved reading recreationally recently was Warcross by Marie Lu, a colorful YA novel that defied my expectations and lifted my spirits every time I picked it up! It was very fun to read and I heavily recommend it.

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