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An Interview With Rick Rofihe | Word Riot

February 15, 2013      

An Interview With Rick Rofihe

Rick Rofihe sat down with us over email for a chat, (and to tell me how to correctly spell my friend Todd Zuniga’s name). Check out and congratulations to Word Riot’s own Martha Clarkson for winning this year’s RRofihe Trophy.

Word Riot: Hey Rick. Thanks for chatting with us over here at Word Riot. You run the Rofihe Trophy contest and have just chosen our previous Poetry Editor Ms. Martha Clarkson as this round’s winner. We had no idea she had entered and are super psyched for her and think you must have made an excellent choice. Also that Tod Zuniga I love is a previous winner from years past. Can you talk to us about the Rofihe Trophy contest from it’s inception to date. Tell us everything, we would love to hear.

Rick Rofihe: Actually, the “One-R” Rofihe Trophy is in the sport of curling — the “Two-R” RRofihe Trophy is the writing award which Martha Clarkson has won.

Also, the “Two-D” Todd Zuniga, of the lit-journal Opium, DIDN’T win the RRofihe Trophy the year he entered — he was a runner-up, though he MIGHT have won if his entered story hadn’t taken place on an airplane, and, as you may or may not know, “Rick don’t fly.”

Flying isn’t my only literary-or-not fear — for example, our Senior Editor June Eding has a small black bunny-rabbit named “Banana”. Banana is NOT allowed to come into the Anderbo office — for some unknown reason Banana TERRIFIES me. Even though, as I said, it’s just a little bunny-rabbit.

Word Riot: Talk to us about Open City. It was my favorite. Can you talk also about literary journals in general and specific for our readers who would like to start one or work at one themselves?

Rick Rofihe: A group of three women came to my office recently (one of the three being Anderbo Associate Editor Elisha Wagman) seeking advice on starting a literary journal, and a printed-on-paper one at that. I told them that I had a girlfriend once who, observing me making an unwise purchase, said, “If you’re going to throw money away, throw it my way.” But these three women were undeterred — you can now preview their new journal, HOT STREET, at and best of luck to them!

As for Open City Magazine, all I will say is that if I owned a “real” publishing company, publishing real books, I’d make Open City Editor Joanna Yas its Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, whatever.

Word Riot: Am I correct in this nutso idea that I have which is that you hold the history record for most short stories published in The New Yorker ever? What advice can you offer to fiction writers. Any advice at all, we all need advice.

Rick Rofihe: Well, several fiction-writers may have sold them more than nine short stories as I have, but what I heard was that my selling them nine in a consecutive three times 365-day period, including five in a single 365-day period — that’s what I heard was unique. In any case, you can read them all at or in their original layouts at The New Yorker site, if you’re a subscriber.

As for writing advice, I’d echo F. Scott Fitzgerald who advised writers to as much as possible avoid adjectival description. Adverbs, OK — adjectives, no-no-no.

Word Riot: Please talk about anything you would like here. We look to you for wisdom.

Rick Rofihe: I’ve said this before: In a practical sense, the paper book or journal or magazine or newspaper is already as obsolete as the vinyl LP-record is, especially when it comes to the time and costs devoted to their manufacture and, especially, distribution. I was born into an era in which recorded music still came on heavy 78-rpm discs — now even my compact discs are passe. When Kindles and Nooks started popping up around me I figured their users to be odd show-offs, parading their electronic affectations. I still don’t own an e-reader, but soon I’ll be the one, even to myself, appearing strange, cluttering up my environment with hard-copy.

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