I haven’t written a line of new poetry since last November, but I have spent a lot of time editing poems and submitting them to various literary magazines, online and print, through Submittable. Submissions to some publications are free, others ask for a “tip,” and still others have entry fees particularly if they are calls for contest entries.
Some of the lit mags promise to put your poem or story at the front of the queue if you tip them. I tried this with several poems. The beauty of this process is that you can submit on a Saturday and get rejected by Tuesday. There is less wondering over weeks and weeks.
I am going to see how many rejections I can amass. The tricky part is keeping track of them all. I purchased a notebook for this purpose, but I can’t find it now, so I decided to tuck all of the rejection emails into one folder in my email account. I’m not sure if there is some sort of rite of passage about rejections. If I pass the 100 count, will I get a “Get out of jail” card?
I believe there are many variables to a submission’s acceptance. I think it has to do with who one knows, or the mission and purpose of the magazine, personal taste, what colour the sky is, and of course, which way you faced when you wrote it. [smiles]
Some lit mags are produced by universities and not surprisingly give preference to their own students and alumni. Others prefer to publish those who have volunteered their time with them, or people they know personally. Other than those submissions, editors are looking for work that pops for some reason.
At times, the pop is from a unique voice from far away, from a subtle or not so subtle political position. A pop may also be a shock such as a death (that one has been done to death), or even unique or eloquent word-craft. Lately, poetry seems to be focusing more than ever on how empty space on the page is used. But it has to make sense. Here is an example I wrote as child’s play.
the cats scratch at the spring door
the warm door
longing to B A S K
to s t a l k
to h u n t
the imposed winter hiatus and bland kibble
the sun-soaked door opens
they run in opposite [ directions
one for the robins’ nest
the other for the ravens’ nest
on top of the tree
Only one comes home
This kind of poem is fun for children to write.
Instead of watching the news, read a good book. Who says living in a dreamland is a bad idea?