hotdog, the off-kilter feminist poetry and illustration magazine has just dropped their third release, the ‘Delightfully Unprofessional’ issue that’s really made people sit up. We caught up with the magazine’s founders, Megan Conery and Molly Taylor, and asked what they’re up to.
Hello Molly and Megan! How are you both?
Firstly, what is hotdog?
The short answer: hotdog is a poetry magazine. The slightly longer answer: hotdog is a poetry magazine that publishes female identifying, non-binary and transgender voices. Poetry has the power to restore. We believe that creativity should be an honest expression of oneself – hotdog is personal, painful, funny and nourishing.
What were your inspirations for the magazine?
Molly: We wanted there to be a lightness about it. The seriousness of our feelings about poetry made it seem so high stakes, so frightening. We felt we would never be a part of that world. Making hotdog, we thought: everyone needs to chill out a bit. Take it and yourself less seriously, and don’t be afraid to look stupid. And none of that means you have to sacrifice the quality of the work.
Megan: For me it started from a place of love, fear and anger. An increasing love for poetry, fear of not being smart enough or ‘good’ enough to understand poetry and anger in a poetry canon that is notoriously exclusionary. There’s not one version of poetry that I love, but my education, the media and many mainstream publishers have always told me that there was one version of poetry that was ‘valid’. I don’t think anyone has the right to decide what’s ‘good’ – I can tell you what I like and what I think is good, but that doesn’t make it a fact. My taste is broad and constantly evolving. With hotdog, we wanted to share our love of language in a way that doesn’t dictate taste, but instead shares experiences, emotions, human connection and has fun words.
You touched on the exclusionary nature of poetry. How does hotdog defy this notion?
Megan: There has always been a drive from the beginning to create a magazine that isn’t just for poets. We’re constantly questioning how we approach reading poetry, designing, discussing – one of the things I love about hotdog is our transparency about who we are, our faults and fallibility, that helps create a stronger sense of community.
Molly: It doesn’t look like a poetry magazine, so when it’s sitting on the shelf in a bookshop or on someone’s coffee table it’s not communicating that sense of ‘this is literature – step away if you do not understand it’. We think a lot about the language we use when we’re talking about hotdog, or tweeting, or writing for the magazine. We want it to feel like friends chatting and laughing and offering up some extremely real emotional truths that knock the wind out of you.
How important was its design?
Megan: hotdog has always had an aesthetic that’s distinctly ‘us’. That’s one of the things we love about making it.
Molly: There’s room for other approaches to presenting poetry. Sometimes it’s more appropriate to have a poem on an otherwise blank page, in that traditional sense. But hotdog’s humour, colour, vigour, has a place too. And it feels instinctively more comfortable for us to do it that way.
The content within is unpretentious, approachable and inclusionary, and often intimate and emboldening. Is this the side of poetry you wanted to promote?
Molly: In terms of the poetry itself, the content can be super serious. The writers we work with are incredibly talented. In that sense, it’s similar to some highbrow publications. So, it’s the rest of hotdog that makes it feel unpretentious – how it looks, how we approach interviews. hotdog is full of joy and playfulness. Serious writing in an unconventional setting.
Megan: It’s not that there is a ‘side’ of poetry that we want to promote. It’s more like, we love poetry and we want to share that with everyone.
How did you want hotdog to impact your readers? What kind of space did you want to create for them?
Megan: It started off as the two of us wanting to make something together, wanting to make a magazine that we would want to read and be proud of. But, it’s funny how publishing works – once it’s out in the world – we aren’t in control anymore. And we realised very quickly that making hotdog is about the relationships we build with our contributors and readers. The space we want to create has always been a place of kindness, support, a genuine love of words, art, design and like… FUN.
Molly: Initially we weren’t even certain if we would have any readers at all, we just wanted to make something together, like Megan said. It was an exercise in total freedom: what would we do if we could do anything? Since then, one of the biggest joys has been hearing from people. hotdogreaders are so loving, so engaged. I think, for me, I want people to know they belong, their efforts are recognised and their relationship with poetry is stronger for having read an issue.
What’s next for hotdog?
EVERYTHING! Lots of things, we both have job jobs, so things always take longer than we’d like. But, there are so many things we are planning and can’t wait to share with the world :)))
Interview by Libby Borton