Meet the Writer: Sheila Squillante

I want to thank Sheila for answering my questions. Read more about her at her website!

How did you get involved with [PANK]?

Founding editor M. Bartley (Matt, to most of us) Seigel and I were grad school buddies at Penn State in the early part of the 21st century. (It’s fun to say things dramatically!) After graduation I, like so many of us who knew him, sat back and applauded his success from afar (except when we saw him at AWP, at which time the applause was up close and bourbon-inflected.) Two-ish years ago, I saw on social media that PANK was in need of a reviews editor. I had just finished a big writing project of my own and felt the need to do some work for the lit community–to focus outward instead of inward for a change. I contacted Matt and his co-publisher, Roxane Gay, to see if I could assist. They welcomed me into the fold and a year after that–just last year, in fact–asked if I would consider a larger role at the magazine, as associate editor of the blog.

How is the [PANK] blog different from the magazine?

It’s all PANK. The blog shares the principles of the mag in that it loves quirk and bluster, puts risk next to refinement. The difference is in delivery. The magazine (whether print or online) is a discrete artifact. It comes to you whole. The blog can be a little more fluid and relentless. We have columns that appear next to book reviews and interviews of PANK mag contributors. Our columnists tend to stick around for a while–we’ve had some with us for several years now–but there can be some ebb and flow there as people’s schedules get busy/slow down. We’re always looking for one-off posts from guest contributors, too. That’s something I’d like to see more of, in fact.

Why do you think so many people are into blogging? Can readers even keep up with it all?

Are they still? My sense has actually been that people are blogging less–at least as individuals–since Facebook has taken over everyone’s spare (ha!) time. I know that’s true for me. Group blogs, or literary sites like ours are an exception, maybe. In that case, I would guess that the appeal for writers is that they can get an instant, and often very large, audience by contributing to a site like PANK. I don’t think it’s possible to keep up with it all and I don’t think writers should try. That would be like trying to keep up with all the books that are published every year (day!). It’s madness. Find a few sites/mags/presses that speak to you and follow them loyally. Other stuff will filter in and out.

A simple search of book blogs shows that adults love young adult and new adult (like young adult, but set in college) fiction. Do you find this problematic for any reason–that adults aren’t reading “literature”?

I just saw an article that suggested adults should be embarrassed  to read YA lit. Admittedly, I didn’t read past the title because it seemed so dumb to me. “Literature” is a big, fertile space, capable of holding many ideas and reaching all kinds and ages of readers. Keep reading. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

I see you have an MFA. Do you still write? What genre(s)?

I do! I am a poet and an essayist. I have three chapbooks of poetry in (or about to be in) the world, and my first full-length collection is coming out this summer. I’m also shopping around a memoir manuscript about my relationship to my foodie father (who died when I was in college) as seen through the lens of the meals we shared.

I want to thank Sheila for taking the time to answer my questions. Learn more about her at her website, and keep an eye on [PANK]!

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