Let’s take some time today to get to know Mid-American Review’s managing editor, Nicole Connolly!


Nicole Connolly is a second-year poetry student at Bowling Green State University’s MFA program, and currently Mid-American Review’s managing editor. Prior to this, she was briefly the content coordinator for EB5 Investors Magazine, and for two-and-a-half-years the lead editor of Chapman University’s Honors Program journal, Sapere Aude. Her poetry and fiction have been published by Outrider Press, Calliope, Bank-Heavy Press, and Quite Curious Literature, and she is an honorary member of the zine-publishing arts collective Not an Exit. When at home in California, she workshops with the (In)Articulates and reads with Orange County Poetry Club and Two Idiots Peddling Poetry.


A submission is giving you major thrills, why?

As with most poets, I’m excited by images or metaphors I wish I’d written first: anything fresh and interesting, but still seemingly inevitable. I also have a huge appreciation for poetry that lets its strong images be strong, that avoids the temptation to sabotage the metaphor by explaining it.

When our staff discusses a piece, my personal priority falls on meaning and significance of the content. If a poem tackles subject matter not omnipresent in literary poetry, or effectively blurs the boundary between spoken-word-type poetry and literary poetry, I take notice. It also helps if the voice or sense of character is strange and strong—I like to be charmed into a new perspective on a topic.


What is the best piece of advice another writer has ever given you?

The first thing that comes to mind is actually, on the surface, truly terrible advice. When I was a freshman in undergrad, I took the train to school every day; one morning, I met a writer/musician who was moving to Los Angeles and sat next to me for my part of the commute. When I told him I was pursuing a BFA in creative writing, he told me to just send everything I wrote everywhere, and someone would publish it. I was totally inspired and did publish my first short story soon thereafter.

Since then, I’ve realized that more discretion is important. I’ve learned to prioritize the quality of my work enough to ask myself if I want to be associated with a press or journal before I submit. In some ways, publishing opportunities act as gatekeepers who can help you understand when you’re really “ready” to have your work potentially immortalized and forever accessible to anyone who might want to read it.

Even so, he did help me distinguish between the different aspects of a writer’s life, and begin my thinking about important questions: Who am I writing for? Why am I writing this? What is my ultimate goal for this piece? Reading, writing, workshopping, and publication don’t necessarily follow a straight path. Publication in general doesn’t seem as scary to me now as it did before my half-hour train ride with this stranger, and it doesn’t have to be the end goal for everything that I do.


Tell us one strange thing about yourself that involves writing and/or editing.

A lot of people who have seen my writing process at work have been some degree of confused or horrified, saying things like you’re insane and I don’t understand you at all. I write a lot of raw material by hand pretty much every day, but the vast majority of it is total garbage. I’ll often salvage one or two lines out of a page of work and start over from there, or cut four pages of material down to one-hundred words, or expand fifty words to eight more pages of raw stuff.

I type it all up, print it out, edit with a pen, rewrite by hand, re-type on the computer, read it out loud to myself over and over. Often, I don’t look at a poem/short story for six months, and then pick it up again. My process is a total mess and has only gotten more convoluted with time (and I often feel guilty for all the paper it uses), but it works for me (and it gives me credence when I tell my composition students that good writing is more elbow grease than talent).


What is your favorite piece that MAR has published recently?

For our latest issue, I was thrilled to get the poem “Heavens to Betsy” by Cindy Beebe. I was struck by its consistent sense of fun, even though many of the images were dark—I could tell the poet really enjoyed writing it. Every time I read it, another layer of meaning unfolded. The title made me initially suspicious of this piece, but I quickly fell in love with the work, and loved having my first expectations subverted. There is just such a delightful mix of holy and banal images, plain-spoken and elevated voice, and certainty in uncertainty. It’s got a strangeness to it that attracted me.


photo for MAR intro

Thanks, Nicole!

Come back next Wednesday for another MAR staff profile. And Stay tuned for information regarding MAR and Winter Wheat.