Interview: Third Point Press


third point logo

Third Point Press, having only started a few years ago, has gained some big names in its issues. They’ve published with authors from Dock Street Press, Hyacinth Girl Press, and WhiskyPaper Press, among others. Their authors and artists are a mix of widely acclaimed and just starting out, which is where I think the magic comes from.

Erin Dorney (poetry editor) has an MA in English (creative writing) from West Chester University and an MS in Library and Information Science from Syracuse University. Her work has been published in various literary journals and zines. Erin is a founding editor of The Triangle; interns with VIDA: Women in Literary Arts; and is a member of the editorial board of the peer-reviewed journal In The Library With The Lead Pipe. You can learn more about her at or follow her on Twitter @edorney.

Matthew Kabik (founding editor/ editor in chief) is the author of short stories and flash pieces which fall into the category of PA Gothic (yes, I made up that term. I don’t care). He holds an MFA in Creative Writing (fiction) from Arcadia University.

Curtis Smith: As a writer, I’m always thankful for the work of editors and publishers. It’s a labor of love, an undertaking that benefits my kind but which I’m not cut out for. Yet I know a number of writers I admire who also run their own lit journals and presses. So first of all, thanks. And secondly, how difficult is it to wear those two very different hats?

Erin: Being an editor has definitely made me think differently about submitting my own work to journals. I’m more aware of stuff like the “fit factor” (if my writing is a good fit for that particular pub) and keeping my cover letters short (I do not want to know that you’ve been published in over 95 journals—mention three favs and move on).

Matt: I don’t think it’s very difficult, though I will say it takes away some of the magic (kind of like seeing behind the scenes of a stage play—knowing how they make the thunder takes away some of the fun). What I do sometimes worry about, and something I’ve found myself struggling with, is really getting into my own writing as much. I’m much more excited by what other people are producing.

CS: Can you take us back to Third Point’s origins? Did it arise from a bit of fate and well-timed alchemy? Or was it something that had been on your radar for a while?

Erin: We had never met Matt before in our lives and he came up to us at what was basically a party and said “I want to start a lit mag. Will you guys help me?” (or something along those lines—there was alcohol involved). Tyler and I had talked here and there about how cool it would be to publish other people’s work, but up until then we had been focused on events and smaller handmade zines. We said yeah and the rest was history.

Matt: That’s pretty accurate. I feel like Erin and Tyler were just waiting for someone to say “okay, let’s make this happen” for it to happen. They both were instrumental in the success of this publication, and they both are monumental with improving it each and every issue.

CS: I enjoy the look of the site—there’s some beautiful photography and the layout is visually pleasing. There’s the writing itself—but the presentation, especially in this digital age, is also important. When I think of publishing and editing, I think of words and print—but this is no longer the case. Can you tell us about how you work to create the visual aspect of the journal?

Matt: From the start, I knew our site needed to draw people in with art first. It’s why people first only see the blocks of art on the site when they get to the front page. Creatives are inherently visual, and emphasizing that is a good way of making sure they don’t just dance past the site and all the good stuff we have to give them. We’re lucky that we have an art editor, Michelle Johnsen, who is terrific at finding great work and helping pair it with great pieces of writing.

Erin: I take a visual look of any publication pretty seriously, online or in print. To me, the aesthetic aspects of reading are just as important as the words themselves. We spent a long couple of nights tweaking our WordPress theme to look a specific way. I like that the site is pretty minimal, the flow of information is clear, and it’s fun to look at. In terms of the art pairing, I am a big believer in the idea that the people who show up are exactly the right people—we get submissions from amazing artists and writers, and it all somehow seems complimentary once we get the work onto the page.

third point staff.jpg

The staff of Third Point Press.

CS: And Third Point isn’t just about fiction and poetry, correct?

Erin: We literally could not put together an issue without art submissions (which we pay for, as well as writing). We’ve published experimental videos, and are open to reading submissions that fall into our “Anything Else” category (surprise us!).

Matt: That’s right. We have fiction and poetry, but also art—which is anything that fits our size parameters—and also an everything else category.  That everything else category is where some really amazing stuff comes through: videos, hybrid pieces, creative non-fiction. It’s a catch all, but it’s my favorite category to read through.

CS: You’re based in Lancaster, PA, and I’ve been a witness to the life you and your team and other like-minded folks have breathed into the city’s literary and cultural scene. What drew you to Lancaster over other cities in the area? What do you think of the scene in town—and what do you hope the future holds?

Erin: I can barely handle responding to this question—that’s how much I miss the southcentral PA literary scene now that we live in Minnesota.

Matt: I’ll answer this one a bit more, if only because I don’t want Erin to break down. We were drawn to Lancaster because it was such a creative place to start with—the prevalence of galleries and performance art is enormous. The city punches above its weight when it comes to culture. That being said, it hasn’t traditionally done as well (or at least wasn’t known as well) for creative writing, and that’s something we’re hoping to change. There are lots of great organizations here already (Hippocampus Magazine, for instance) who do great work to promote written work, but we wanted to do even more—maybe just to create another outlet and move the needle a bit.

CS: Your reading period for your fourth issue is open until the end of April. What advice do you have to submitters? What kind of work snares your attention?

Erin: Please follow our submission guidelines. We rarely enjoy poems that are centered on the page. We do like experimental poems, found poems, and prose poems. We like diverse voices. We want to know everything about how you’re dealing with being alive in this wild, wild world.

Matt: Yes to the reading of the guidelines. As far as the fiction side goes: we like subtlety that isn’t boring—subtle stories because they are so vast and so powerful that they don’t need anything more than a telling. We want to read stories that show us the absolutely true moments all people face, but in a way that people are oftentimes scared to admit happen. We like the magical, the absurd, and the literary—though a genre piece that is well told isn’t off limits, either.

CS: Can you look ahead—a year, five years, ten—and tell us where you’d like Third Point to be?

Erin: I’m looking forward to our first print book—whether it’s a manuscript, chapbook, anthology, or something else. I think creating a tactile object will be an interesting process. In 10 years I’d love to see Third Point Press as a thriving, well respected, rooted, and funded press that’s still not afraid to take chances on writers, artists, and ideas.

Matt: I’d like it to be a place where diverse voices feel safe in talking. I’d like it to be something that is healthy and vibrant, and is able to pay people a lot more for their work—maybe even to a point where we can create a retreat in the city for people to learn more about the craft. But just as importantly, I’d like it to be a publication where new writers can send their work and not think it will be ignored.



Curtis Smith has published over 100 stories and essays. His work has been cited by The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, and The Best American Spiritual Writing. He’s worked with literary presses to publish a pair of flash-fiction chap books, three story collections, three novels, and an essay collection. Dock Street Press has just put out his latest book, Communion, an essay collection. In 2016, Ig Publishing will publishing his next book, a collection of essays about Slaughterhouse Five.


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