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Secrets of the Selection Process

You may be thinking, what in the hell does Fourteen Hills want in a fiction, poetry, or visual arts submission? According to the editors and faculty advisor Junse Kim, here is an inside look at the selection process at Fourteen Hills:

In a corner office of the Humanities Building at SF State, a few floors above the clamoring students on a soccer field, musical notes from an ice cream truck seep in from cracked windows. Junse sits at his desk in short sleeves, a tie, and eye glasses to divulge some of our secrets. “Our pieces reflect the San Francisco personality. They are progressive, diverse. There’s an openness to experience, inclusiveness,” Junse says.

Sam Burgert, the Fourteen Hills fiction editor, sits at a table in the Creative Writing Graduate Reading room on the fifth floor of the Humanities Building, where literary journals and other books line two of the four walls. Her spectacled face is framed with wavy blue hair. She says we are looking for, “Something that is a little more subversive. We have issues on immigration, we have issues on rape, we have issues on women’s rights. And those are issues near and dear to my heart and culturally relevant to this time.” Timely and culturally relevant pieces have a better chance at the Journal.

Editor-in-Chief, Keith Donnell leans against a table in the Fourteen Hills workroom on the fourth floor. His glasses and locs shift from side to side with his head as he talks. He and Sam have similar sentiments about what belongs in the Journal. They choose underrepresented voices like those of color, women, and the queer community. We search for, “A real expression of humanity. A concern with truth and a desire to bring people together,” Keith says.

A way to see your submissions in the Journal is by familiarizing yourself with the Bay Area and examining the types of literature that come out of here. Authors should take the time to see what we’re all about through previous issues and focus on your genre whether it be experimental fiction, standard fictional narrative, poetry, or creative nonfiction.

“An author that is familiar with Fourteen Hills and knows what literature is produced in the Bay Area is going to have a much better chance than someone who is just clicking a box on Submittable,” Sam says.

Keith does not want anyone to write a piece specifically for the Journal unless you are solicited. Instead, he says to, “Write what feels natural, write what feels authentic and write to you as an individual and if that harmonizes with what we’re looking for, awesome.”

Fourteen Hills is not just about publishing great work, but about contributing to the larger conversation on social and political issues.

“Through exploring difference, we want to make a larger statement about what unites us,” Keith says. Most of our literary work is generated by a close-knit community of writers and artists as well as the larger community across the country and across the world. We have many events throughout the year to strengthen that community and hopefully grow as a nation. We welcome you to our community and to any of our literary events. Until then, good luck on all of your submissions.

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