Cross Country: An Interview with Del Ray Cross

By and | 29 August 2012

OS: Do you read everything for Shampoo on your own?

DRC: Yes. But there have been some exceptions. Some people have been so determined and so nice about reading for Shampoo that we’ve figured something out. For instance, the publisher that published Ein Frisches Trugbild (which is written in German) wanted to help with an issue. So I published an edition in German with English translations.

Also, Ron Palmer, another fantastic writer from this city, is releasing an e-book through Shampoo. It’s going to be our first e-book, and it will correspond with our forthcoming 40th issue. He’s doing Twitter poems, but he’s developed them into something of their own. Ron also edited some spicy, sexy poems for that same German edition we did a while back.

Cassie Lewis helped me editorially for a little bit. We did some postcard poems together.

There have been others who have helped too, I’m sure. I’ve been very lucky with the help I’ve been offered, but essentially I do it all alone. Yes, I’ll admit it: I need an intern – but I haven’t looked into it seriously yet.

OS: Is Shampoo a full-time job?

DRC: Well, no. I’ve been graced with two years of being unemployed. It’s been a very interesting experience. I never dreamed I’d have the luxury of being unemployed, but I have and it’s still going. But Shampoo isn’t full time despite my unemployment, and it never will be. My projects are always multiplying: I write a lot of my own work. I have a blog that I’ve been doing for seven or eight years. It’s a project called anachronizms. It’s a project that involves writing about old memories and new memories. It helps me to remember. My memory is really weird. That’s why I write, because I don’t have a memory.

But if you were to task me straight out, ‘Del, what do you do?’ I’d respond: ‘Shampoo!’

OS: You must read a lot of poetry that no one else gets to read. I’m sure it affords you some insight into interesting global and local movements. Have you noticed trends in the type of writing you receive for Shampoo?

DRC: Yes – weird trends though. The sense of humour thing went a little bit too far, and the edgy thing went a little too far. But I’ve always been happy to keep it going that little bit too far.

Remember: there is no ideology to the magazine. It is made up only of poetry I like. There is a small shtick: you have to be able to read it, and it should be simple as hell. That’s about it.

I don’t ask many people to work for me, and still I get some amazing submissions. Sherman Alexie, director of Smoke Signals, was a hero of mine pre-Shampoo. Out of the blue, I got work from him. I’d never corresponded with him at all. I was like, wow. But those things don’t happen very often. I usually don’t recognise any of the names I publish. I don’t affiliate when I read. I publish what strikes me at the moment. I go through everything chronologically, and I never read a poem twice. I just decide ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when I read it. I publish stuff I like at the moment. That’s all I can say about it.

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