Inklette interviews Sprout Magazine


Inklette interviewed a dear friend, Sprout Magazine, that turns one next month. 

Sprout envisions “a space where young minds can share their thoughts and opinions about society through creative expression.” Sprout is a nonprofit, online literary journal for teens, by teens and publishes “creative media that demonstrates awareness of the world and social commentary, sharing art in its purest, rawest form.”

Here is Victoria Hou, the Editor-in-Chief of Sprout, interviewed by our Prose Editor, John S. Osler III. 

John: How would you describe Sprout to someone who’s never heard of it?

Victoria: I would describe Sprout as a curation of creative, developed political thoughts from young artists. Sprout’s mission is to promote awareness through art, so that’s pretty much who we are at the core.

John: What inspired you to create a magazine like that?

Victoria: I’ve always been an artist, but I didn’t become politically active or aware until I started getting on social media. When social movements such as #blacklivesmatter and intersectional feminism became increasingly more relevant on social media, I found myself and my peers becoming more and more educated about political and social issues. So, Sprout’s a happy marriage between the two things I find most important in life – self-expression and awareness.

John: And do you think Sprout has done that so far, reflecting social issues through art?

Victoria: I think so. As with all art, many of the pieces featured on Sprout are personal, but all of them align with a greater social issue. For example, we’ve featured many pieces on bullying and gender inequality. Both of these topics are ones that affect the individual, but are issues that connect with our society as a whole.

 So, Sprout’s a happy marriage between the two things I find most important in life – self-expression and awareness. 

John: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember hearing that, up until a few months ago, you and Sophie Grovert were the only editors for Sprout. What was that like, editing and publishing an entire literary magazine with a staff of only two?

Victoria: To be honest, it was pretty tough at the beginning. I founded it on my own and Sophie started helping me out in the months following Sprout’s birth. But eventually the word got out – Sophie helped me out a lot on that front, she’s got a lot of writer friends that I didn’t have – and Sprout started expanding.

John: It certainly has. How has Sprout changed since taking on seven new staff members?

Victoria: Well, our productivity has certainly increased. Our focus has shifted from developing internally to growing outward. But we’ve stayed true to the feelings that led us to create Sprout in the first place – a motivation to offer something meaningful to the world and an enthusiasm for honest, raw work.

John: With a larger staff, do you have any new projects in the works?

Victoria: We want to create an issue featuring selected works from our magazine! Currently, Sprout features a piece weekly on our website, but we’re looking to put out a collection for our anniversary in April.

 But we’ve stayed true to the feelings that led us to create Sprout in the first place – a motivation to offer something meaningful to the world and an enthusiasm for honest, raw work.

John: Interesting. Are there any topics you wish more people submitted pieces about?

Victoria: With so many political topics and social issues in the world, it would be impossible to prioritize a few over others. That being said, however, I think issues such as gun control, immigration, and Islamaphobia could be really interesting if expressed creatively.

John: What would you say your personal favorite piece so far has been?

Victoria: I can’t pick a definite favorite, but recently we featured a piece titled “White on White” by Lucas Bigelow that expresses frustration at internalized racism. It’s a wonderful read and basically captures Sprout’s essence of political realization and clear, elevated thought.

John: Would you say Sprout has a certain ideology, or that you publish anything, so long as it’s political in nature and well written? Would you, for example, publish a thoughtful piece that argues against legalizing same sex marriage?

Victoria: Sprout itself doesn’t have an ideology. Although staff members may have certain opinions on political issues, Sprout will publish thoughtful political pieces so long as they aren’t hateful or threatening in nature.

At the end of our mission statement, it states “We encourage all opinions and points of view, but that being said – Sprout does not reflect any biases present in the work we publish. We are simply a plot of land for seeds to grow. Plant yourself here and watch yourself prosper.”

And we like to stick to that whenever possible, regardless of our personal views or opinions.

John: Huh, and have you run into any problems with that thus far, staff members conflicting over political views or readers complaining about pieces they didn’t agree with? 

Victoria: No, we haven’t. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

In all seriousness, anything that cultivates and encourages political opinion is a breeding ground for controversy. I think that if readers disagree with pieces featured on Sprout, we’re doing our job in promoting differing views on issues that matter. And by all means, if you disagree with something on Sprout, we’re glad to consider your opinion for publication as well!

When talking politics, its important to include the voices of everyone. Sprout will always have room to grow in this respect, because there’s always someone out there who’s voice isn’t heard.

John: So you’d be willing to publish counter opinions to published pieces?

Victoria: Yes, if we ever received any that followed our mission statement and submission rules. Sprout believes that any mature political conversation is a good political conversation, and we’d be happy to feature any well-crafted opinion piece, whether it counters a previous piece on Sprout or not.

John: So in your submission rules, I see that you only accept submissions from writers and artists ages thirteen to twenty two. What do you think publishing only pieces by young writers adds to Sprout?

Sprout acts as a medium for young people to nurture their thoughts. It is, by extension, is a learning environment. You can flesh out different avenues with Sprout. Because we only publish young artists, we’re able to build this safe space for young artists to express themselves and learn at the same time. A platform to explore opinions is especially important in a time of life where it seems almost impossible to have your voice heard. And that’s just not the teenage angst in me speaking either.

John: Okay, last question: besides publishing an anthology, how do you see Sprout growing in the months and years to come?

Victoria: Well, I hope to see an inclusion of more political issues from around the world. We have two staff members who are from countries other than the U.S and it would be wonderful to see more international submissions regarding issues that aren’t necessarily Western in nature. When talking politics, its important to include the voices of everyone. Sprout will always have room to grow in this respect, because there’s always someone out there whose voice isn’t heard.

John: Well said. Thanks so much for agreeing to the interview, it was a pleasure to speak with you! 

Victoria: Thank you so much for the opportunity! The pleasure was mine!

Blog Credits: John S. Osler III (Prose Editor)

14572798657827VICTORIA HOU is a sixteen year old poet and artist. Along with being the Editor-in-Chief of Sprout, she is also the executive editor of her school’s print literary magazine, The Highland Piper. Her poetry was awarded Silver Key for Scholastic Art & Writing, West Region in 2014. She is also a two-time gold medalist and one-time silver medalist in Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts’ National Brush Painting & Calligraphy competition. Passionate about politics and law, Victoria spends her free time reading up on current events. 

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JOHN S. OSLER III is currently a senior at Edina High School, where he writes for both the school’s underground, satirical newspaper, The Southern View, and their legitimate newspaper, Zephyrus. He has attended the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. He is currently a Prose Editor for Inklette, where his story, ‘Farrand Pride’ was published. Another story of his, ‘Howard Houghton,’ was published in Phosphene Literary Journal. Recently, his short story, ‘Bobby’s Song’ was published in the first issue of Moledro Magazine. 

Inklette interviews Loud Zoo Magazine


Inklette interviewed a friend, Loud Zoo Magazine, which  is “concerned with powerful and unique visions rather than chasing markets and pandering to trends.”  

Loud Zoo is a fresh and daring magazine. Its journey is marked by a grounding honesty. In this interview, we have tried to bring to fore its ideology, story and more so, its unique voice. 

Here is  Josh Smith, the Editor-in-Chief of Loud Zoo, interviewed by our Intern, Haley Zilberberg.

Haley: Can you elaborate on your ideology and future goals?

Josh: I’m historically terrible with goals, but around a year before we started Loud Zoo, I approached a longtime friend about joining the staff and he responded by asking what we were hoping to accomplish by reviving Bedlam from its dormancy. That friend was onto something. Maybe he knew we needed some direction, maybe not, but in asking that question, he sparked a string of potential projects and outcomes that ultimately led to what we’re doing today. The pieces were all there; I just hadn’t stopped to consider the possibilities until that moment. We had been kicking around the idea of shutting Bedlam down on our tenth anniversary, but I still had a feeling that we could do more. I knew that if we built a magazine on a socially-conscious base, it would not only keep us more engaged, but we could make a deeper connection with our readers as well. Our ideology is sustained by this drive, and sharpened by paying attention to the climate shifts both in literature and the world at large.
We acquired our first translated work for the last issue, which was stunning, and we would really love to feature more. It seems that beyond the works of well-known writers and magazines that focus exclusively on translations, American literary publications don’t often contain them. Of course, there are exceptions, but from where we’re standing, far too many perspectives are ignored, unable to breach the language barrier. If we see increased translations in the greater literary arena, I feel like we’ll see an immense shift in the types of stories and books that people will seek out, which will likely affect film and television productions, making the wider scope of storytelling more interesting. We’ll keep pushing with our platform, hopefully other editors will as well!

Our ideology is sustained by this drive, and sharpened by paying attention to the climate shifts both in literature and the world at large.

We also haven’t talked publicly about our first book yet, and I can’t keep it contained any longer… We’re working with Ali Eteraz (who appeared in Loud Zoo #1) on a collection of poetry by Ramez Qureshi. Ramez was a Pakistani-American living in New York who took his own life just months before 9-11. His poetry embodies an energy and direction that virtually disappeared in the wake of the September attacks. It weaves between academic and cathartic, intimate and community-minded, and is wholly engaging throughout. The Qureshi family discovered an immense body of work, much of it handwritten, and provided us with copies to review. Catherine, one of our editors, has been meticulously transcribing all of these pages, and we’ve begun making selections for which pieces will appear in the volume. We hope to have it out by late 2016 or early 2017, with plans for a short-run special edition in the works.

Haley: Also, what is your perspective on this question: In a world that is becoming increasingly connected, what is the importance on focusing on individual communities?

Josh: The increased global connectivity is changing how we perceive just about everything, and no community is left unaffected, even if the impacts are indirect. We’re seeing communities of all types thrive and struggle, and if we pay attention, we can learn something and lend a hand when things are leaning in our favor. With artistic groups, we’re seeing people come together who never would have made contact otherwise, and absorbing each other’s far-reaching influences and inspirations. Once one or two people hit a groove, they tend to inspire their cohorts, and all of a sudden, there’s a kinetic burst where several undeveloped ideas catapult into something its creators never imagined possible. The larger the range of perspectives and new influences, the more powerful this burst, and the work it produces, tends to be.  Small, isolated groups can stagnate and start to repeat themselves without new ideas to stir them up, and will eventually either dissolve or become toxic. Of course, we see this in political and other social circles as well.

What is important about differentiating from mainstream journals and who defines mainstream/alternative? What does it mean to be mainstream/alternative to you?

Mainstream and alternative journals each serve important purposes in the lit world, and I don’t think one type could exist without the other — at least not currently. While mainstream publications tend to target the casual reader, alternative press is free to charge into the unknown, and in my opinion, the farther the better! Not every experimental work will change how we read, but a far fewer number of absolute Earth shaking pieces come out of the mainstream.

For us to be an alternative isn’t to catch the dregs from the mainstream, but to lift up the brave new voices who are poised to be the next mainstream, but haven’t yet had their opportunity for the world at large to understand them.

Literature is just as bound by the constraints of what sells as movies, music, and any other medium, and if a work doesn’t check off enough of the required elements for a publisher to consider it a money maker, it’s jettisoned without alternatives to provide it an opportunity. Journals are generally more accepting of challenging work than major book publishers, but there are definitely enough parallels to keep the little mutants like us charging through the underground. Also, as far as I can tell, there are approximately nine billion lit mags currently being produced, and as much as that may seem like a reason to not add another one to the stack, if we look back at this global connectivity, we see it opening up worlds of new interests for people to enjoy. Sects and sub-genres and niches, each one validates itself by its own guidelines, merits, and communities, and each one needs a platform to keep its fans sated and its creators productive. As such, we don’t focus on any single genre because we see merit in all of them. For us to be an alternative isn’t to catch the dregs from the mainstream, but to lift up the brave new voices who are poised to be the next mainstream, but haven’t yet had their opportunity for the world at large to understand them.

Blog Credits: Haley Zilberberg (Intern)


145688373036873JOSH SMITH is not a pseudonym. He is, however, a jack of some trades. An aspiring mad scientist, he builds and amplifies noisy contraptions when time and space permit. He’s on Twitter – @jsbedlam. This is probably not his real face. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Loud Zoo Magazine.


145688373036873 (1)HALEY ZILBERBERG is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Social Work with a
Creative Writing minor. She writes about many topics, often surrounding disabilities and social justice. Haley has been published in Inklette and Loud Zoo (Issue 5).


Jim Harrington interviews Inklette

The Editors-in-Chief of Inklette, Trivarna Hariharan and Devanshi Khetarpal, were recently interviewed by Jim Harrington.

Read the full interview here.

 Thanks to Jim and best wishes for his blog.

LitBridge interviews Inklette

Melissa, from LitBridge, recently interviewed the Editors-in-chief of Inklette, Trivarna Hariharan and Devanshi Khetarpal.

We sincerely thank LitBridge for supporting us. Read the full interview here.

An Interview with the Textploit Team

Recently, Inklette had the privilege to interview the three head editors of Textploit, an online magazine dedicated to displaying the works of young writers and artists of all sorts.

Inklette: Could each of you introduce yourselves?


Siqi Liu: I am a freshman at Harvard College, and I’ve been writing ever since I could remember. I love stories and daydreaming, so fiction has always been my sanctuary. My first real writing project happened when I was in seventh grade; I wrote a 300-page novel about princesses and dragons, and from then on I’ve retired to mostly short stories and poetry. In high school, I was a reader and executive editor for Polyphony H.S. My work has appeared in publications such as Imagine Magazine, Polyphony H.S., Dialogue Humanities, and Suddenly Lost in Words.


Ella Bartlett: I am a freshman at Barnard College, and I have been writing since the age of 9. When my English teacher named Mr. Brekke told me I had enough potential to submit to a contest in 10th grade, I think that’s when writing was solidified as the art form in my life that would never disappear. I have won two national medals in the Scholastic Writing Awards, and you can find me in the Cadaverine, Necessary Fiction, Crashtest, and Polyphony HS.

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Natasha Lasky: I have written all my life and I started to make movies when I was twelve. I started writing because I love books and words; I started making movies because I saw Blade Runner. I’m from the bay area, and I’m a freshman at Harvard with Siqi.

Inklette: How would you describe Textploit to someone who had never heard of it?

Natasha Lasky: Textploit is an online magazine by and for teens. Above all we try to be honest to the teen experience, which for us means publishing things things that are raw, unique, and funny–things that other literary magazines wouldn’t touch. We feature all forms of art– photo essays, diary pages, road trip playlists, reviews, DIY guides.

Inklette: What makes Textploit different from other literary magazines?

Ella Bartlett: Two main things I think make us different from other magazines out there. One being that we consider any type of art that can be put on a website. Be it film, multimedia, haikus, original music compositions– we don’t discriminate based on form. Write six thousand words or six words: we publish anything that we consider good art. Second, is that we value the teenage experience. We think that a good story written about a high school relationship is equally “artful” as a story written about a relationship between two middle-aged people. We want teens to have  a space to write what is close to their hearts and not feel like they have to write an “adult” story to write a good story.

Siqi Liu: There’s a strong visual component to our magazine because we pair art with every piece of writing we publish, which is rarely seen in other literary magazines. We also publish every other day instead of, say, once or twice a year, so we generate a larger volume of published pieces than most other magazines.

Natasha Lasky: I think calling Textploit a literary magazine is a little bit a misnomer. I feel like “literary” often becomes kind of a euphemism for elitism and pretension, and in this way I think our spirit is definitely more zine than literary magazine. We want to publish work that is risky and unpolished, that is serious but doesn’t take itself too seriously, by people who have never published anything before and who wouldn’t think of publishing themselves in literary magazines.

Inklette: Who had the idea for Textploit, and what was it like making that idea into a reality?

Ella Bartlett: Natasha, Siqi, and I met at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio in 2013, and we managed to stay in touch. When Natasha said to me last year, “Hey, I got this really cool idea,” I jumped right in. It was so cool that we could take our love for writing and our love for each other and create a project like Textploit.

Natasha Lasky: To expand on Ella’s answer, I think we were all a little bit dissatisfied with the landscape of teen publishing, as it felt either infantilizing or pretentious. When I thought of the idea I came to Siqi and Ella immediately, as they are both ambitious, talented writers who also happen to be two of my favorite people of all time. Developing Textploit was a collaborative process, and it is as much theirs as it is mine.

Inklette: So Textploit publishes in a wide variety of literary formats, ranging from poetry to videos to playlists to instructions for DIY Friendship Earrings. Did you try to cultivate this diversity of mediums or did it just happen?

Siqi Liu: We definitely had the diversity of mediums in mind when we were coming up with the initial concept. We knew we didn’t want to be a writing-only magazine. We thought something exciting would happen if we start mixing mediums, and it did.

Ella Bartlett: It kind of just happened, honestly, but we also wanted it. Apparently, teens want to be able to express their ideas without limits, and if this is the best way teens can do it, we will publish it.

Natasha Lasky: From the very beginning we wanted to have as much diversity in mediums as possible. One of the benefits of being an online magazine is that you’re not limited to publishing poetry, prose, and art — you can publish music and video as well. I think this is more true to the way teens express themselves, as most people haven’t picked what kind of artist they are by the time they’re twenty. At least in my case, even though I write, I also make movies and do collages and compose terrible angsty songs on the guitar. I feel like I know a lot of people like that.

Inklette: How do you think your web page redesign will change things?

Ella Bartlett: The only change to the new format is that we are publishing Monday, Wednesday, and Friday instead of every single day of the week. This really enables every artist to be valued and to bask in the space that we allow them to take up. The issues will also be every two months, instead of every month.

Natasha Lasky: I think the redesign will less change Textploit’s vision, but rather refine it. As I’m sure you’re experiencing with Inklette, as a relatively new magazine we are still trying to fine-tune our voice and our publishing process, and the redesign will help us with that.

Inklette: What’s your favorite piece that you’ve published to date?

Siqi Liu: It’s so hard for me to answer this question! I am a huge fan of all of our regular contributors, such as Inara Baker who adds a lot of quirk and diversity to Textploit with her DIY columns (How To Make A Secret Compartment Book is a personal favorite ) and Tad Cochrane (who recently became our music editor) who is always daring and honest in his personal essay columns. I also love Rachel Tse’s photography.

Ella Bartlett: That’s a very hard question. Rachel Lin’s film, Punk in 5 Parts, is so honest and so well done, and to be honest, film isn’t a form of art I have taken much time to appreciate before I saw Rachel’s. That being said, we’ve gotten some fantastic music (My Soul Side Journey has written some amazing pieces) and poetry- so much amazing poetry. Check it out.

Natasha Lasky: This was way back in the first issue we ever published, but I’m a big fan of Liam Brooks’ Facebook Official. It captured the voice of a horny seventh-grade boy in such a funny way! Also every story by Lucy Silbaugh is an absolute gem.

Credits: John S. Osler III (Prose Editor)

An Interview with David Benedictus

Our Prose Editors, Nathalia Baum and John S. Osler III, interviewed David Benedictus. David Benedictus is an accomplished writer with many publications to his credit. In this interview, he talks about his work and shares advice for young writers. 

  1. One of your books, You’re a Big Boy Now, was brought to celluloid by Francis Ford Coppola.  What was it like to see your story adapted and reimagined by someone else?

It was astonishing to have a film made out of my second novel. But Coppola was unknown and much the same age as I was so I didn’t expect anything to happen. I spent the summer with the film people in the streets of New York. I thought my novel was much darker than the movie but Francis said he wanted to make something cheerful.

  1. The Fourth of June was banned for its depiction of bullying and violence. If you could do it over again, would you have changed it before publishing, or do you suppose the work’s honesty is more important than its reach?

The novel wasn’t banned – except at the school bookshop and the (modest) scandal attaching to it was great fun.

  1. What’s the most interesting project you’ve ever had to abandon?

All my life I have had projects that have never quite made it. I started writing The Happy Hypocrite, a musical based on a story by Max Beerbohm, in 1953, and I’m still awaiting a full production. Also I have been promoting a TV series based on Amnesty International case stories for many years and it hasn’t happened yet.

  1. You seem to be pretty interested in new additions to classic stories, seeing as one of your more famous books is Return to the Hundred Acre Woods and your story that’s about to be featured in Inklette is  Alice in Wonderland. What draws you to expand on other people’s stories and how do you continue that narrative?

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood is a collection of short stories. I just liked the idea of more stories about Pooh and his friends. Ditto Alice, but that proved much more difficult and remains unfinished.

  1. Going off of that, a lot of young writers start out with fan fiction these days. What do you think of this practice? Do you think adding onto out with other stories is a good place for new writers to start?

Not really. Be original.

  1. What was your own writing journey like? To what do you attribute your lifelong success?

Lifelong success? Huh. I’ve had my share of failures, but some of them turned out OK.

  1. Overall, what tips would you give to young and emerging writers?

Take risks. Write to please yourself. Don’t be discouraged. Work to a routine. 

David Benedictus’ work includes Return to the Hundred Acre Wood (2009), an autobiography titled Dropping Names (2005), The Fourth of June (1962) and You’re a Big Boy Now (1963) that was made into a film by Francis Ford Coppola. David Benedictus was educated at Eton College, University of Oxford and the University of Iowa. He has worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company and BBC Radio. He currently lives in Hove.