Getting into writing – an interview with Katie Manning of Whale Road Review

Katie Manning

Katie Manning is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Whale Road Review, a journal of poetry and short prose. She is also an associate professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University and the author of Tasty Other, which won the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. She lives with her spouse and sons in San Diego, and she enjoys beaches, books, board games, brownies, and alliteration.

Why did you start your publication?

I loved editing journals in graduate school (New Letters and Rougarou), so I knew that I wanted to start my own publication someday and continue doing that work. I started Whale Road Review in 2015. I wanted to publish haunting poetry and short prose, reviews of memorable creative work, and short essays with ideas for teaching creative writing. Running a journal is one way that I try to be a good literary citizen.

Whale Road Review

What is the most gratifying element of publishing the written word?

It’s a joy to see new writing in print. I love promoting other writers’ work and helping readers find something new to love.

What are your happiest memories in your writing/publishing career?

I’m fortunate to have many! I just realized that this year I’m celebrating 10 years since my first professional journal publication (a poem in Relief), which was a wonderful affirmation of my work. Opening the box for my first chapbook publication, The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman, was glorious—I felt like Jo March. Getting the phone call that let me know my manuscript Tasty Other had won the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award in March 2016 was also incredible, and I got to share that news just moments later with a large gen-ed poetry class I was teaching. They clapped and cheered with me.

My happiest memories aren’t all publication related though. I made so many happy memories with my writing communities in grad school, I had an incredible multi-genre writing workshop with colleagues in Azusa, and I’ve enjoyed connecting with all sorts of artists and writers, including my workshop leader and writing hero Carolyn Forché, at the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe.

How do you handle success and failure?

I celebrate them both. Successes are rare and should be celebrated thoroughly (preferably with sushi and/or Thai food). Failures should also be celebrated; rejected submissions mean that I’ve been writing and putting my work out into the world, and that means I’m doing good work even if the writing hasn’t found the right editor on the right day just yet.

What makes you write when you’re exhausted and your fingers ache?

The same compulsion that had me creating poems at age 4 before I could even write. I’m fascinated by language and stories. I try to work out my many questions about the world in writing, and I will never run out of questions.

What is your advice to young and new writers?

Keep reading and writing, of course, and find ways to connect with other writers! Go to conferences and workshops, attend a local reading, and/or connect with writers, editors, and journals on social media. Writing can be isolating, but there are communities of writers out there who are doing this same weird writing thing that you’re doing. It’s good to surround yourself with support.

Are you a traditionalist or a digital? (paper or eBook)

I love to read hard copies of books, but I’ve found my Kindle useful on several occasions, especially when traveling. I’m glad that the world of publishing is big enough for all of this.

Do you blog?

I have an author website that I update occasionally, and I actually have a whole post about why I write poetry instead of blogging. 🙂

Do you self-publish?

Usually not. I’m a professor and need the perceived legitimacy of the peer-review process, but I did contribute my own pedagogy paper on writing laboratories to Whale Road Review’s Teachers’ Lounge in our first year of publication. I wanted to share an idea in this pool of resources for creative writing teachers.

If you have a publication or promotion – tell us.

We just released Issue 10 of Whale Road Review, and we’re still stunned that people are sending us such incredible writing.


You can find my book Tasty Other at Main Street Rag.


Thanks for reading!

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