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The Incandescent Review, Esther Kim (Interview)

Interviewed by Kira Labosky


The Incandescent Review is based upon the message of “I can:” a statement that proves that through a united vision, much can be accomplished. This nonprofit magazine/blog was founded in March 2020 amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Incandescent Review is dedicated to amplifying and empowering young voices while promoting activism and raising funds for various global issues. The blog features a wide variety of content, including podcasts, editorials, poetry, prose, and culture. Through their online magazine, works of poetry, prose, and art are published. To explore all of what The Incandescent Review has to offer, check out

What was your introduction to editing & publishing?

I first came upon the editing process when dealing with my own work. Editing started as a way of experimenting. After I finished a poem, I would look at it and see how I could change it: maybe I’d make a line break here or add a clarifying image there. It was all based on instinct––and in many ways, the editing process still is for me. I learned about the publishing process in a similar manner: when trying to find ways to share my work as a wide-eyed eighth grader. I turned to Google and discovered so many journals that could be potential homes for my pieces. Now that I’m actually serving in a journal and participating in editing and publishing other people’s work, I think I’ve gotten a re-introduction to these processes that I thought I knew so well. I’ve come to see editing as a way of helping to balance both the writer’s and readers’ interpretations of a certain piece and publishing as a way of then sharing those interpretations with the literary community.

How did you come to be involved with The Incandescent Review?

I became involved in The Incandescent Review through Ariel Kim, the Founder and CED, when she reached out to me to engage in this project she was working on. I entered at a time when the project was just starting out: it didn’t even have a name yet. All we knew was that we wanted to join together to use what we were so passionate about, which was art and writing, to be some kind of force of positivity.

What do you do as the Creative Writing Director at the Incandescent Review?

My role is completely based in the writing aspect of The Incandescent Review, whether that’s managing/overseeing the blog or that’s looking through, reviewing, making comments on, and then eventually publishing pieces for our literary magazine issues.

I saw that The Incandescent Review was founded in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Was that a challenging process?

For me, it was quite challenging because I was so unused to not conducting team processes in-person. Before The Incandescent Review, I had been a part of a school literary magazine, and just getting to actively see and interact with team members at school was a huge source of motivation and inspiration for everyone. Losing that in-person connection while in The Incandescent Review was definitely difficult at times.

What do you look for when selecting works from the submission pile?

Specificity. Having that specificity in word choice and the images that are used in a piece can elicit those ‘aha’ moments or those moments when I do a double-take and read that passage again. Specificity can also eliminate cliches––or at least bring new light to supposedly overused ideas.

How did The Incandescent Review get its name?

In one of our earlier meetings, we decided to put out a few name options for this project. We ended up with The Incandescent Review because it holds in itself multiple interpretations, the main one being that the phrase “I can” is literally in the name. It’s kind of making a statement that we can be activists, even if we are young, and we can achieve a lot through our united vision. What’s also embedded in the name is this idea of light or fire. We want to show and spread this fiery passion of ours to combat a lot of the greater issues around us.

Who is the envisioned audience for The Incandescent Review?

While we hope to reach anyone and everyone, we really want to speak to teens and young adults through our writing and activism, mainly because our organization is led by teens and young adults. Being able to ignite that same passion and drive for change in people our age is at the center of our mission.

What are future goals for your magazine/blog?

I think our future goals are based in The Incandescent Review’s activism work. The magazine and the blog are really timeless: they’ll always stand as this collection or this force of creative arts pieces. Beyond that, however, we hope to stay active, and one way in which we’re beginning to do that is through an initiative we recently created called ArtsUnited4UNICEF. Through this initiative, we provide commissioned art in exchange for donations that’ll be sent directly to support UNICEF’s many causes.

Do you have any helpful tips for the members of FUSE who intend to pursue a career in the field?

It’s a little bit hard to say what exactly could be a tip since writing is such a personalized activity and since it’s something that people can view differently depending on what writing means to them. However, one piece of advice that comes to mind is just reminding yourself of why you chose to write and being sure of that. Even in the face of criticism and difficulty in your career, no one can take that surety away from you, and that’s pretty powerful.


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