Good morning poets, writers, daydreamers and those who’ve accidentally stumbled onto my blog. Welcome. Grab a seat and a cup of coffee.
I’m starting off today’s post with some poetry submissions that came in over the last two weeks. I want to commend all the poets who send me their work. On a site like mine, where no profit is made, the art I share and display is for the soul and seeks to create a connection between us all. It means a great deal to me, especially in these days of separateness, to have someone answer back from the darkness with pieces of their lives that have moved them.
The second portion of this blog will have a run down of helpful tips (f*&k yeah! another bullet list!) on submitting your poetry for publication or competitions as well as a list of respected journals, websites, and independent magazines that are currently accepting submissions.
Please enjoy the poetry first. Roll it over in your brain and let it affect you.
From a small foam couch by a wide still
morning spreads hummingbird wings
and hovers above sweet shared generosity of
green breath, fragrant openings berries rounding
toward giftable ripe.
In my hand a letter of
urgent pleas, a photo of a severed head, defaced, a supine body.
i hear the cries of the killers’ children
starved of homeland, thirsty for water
not weighted by toxic sludge, in the
mourning touches and silent vigil—those who
gather to hold the immensity of loss and betrayal
together, whose hearts beat slow and whose long
trunks touch, mourner to mourner, connecting.
In my head echoes a question the letter refuses
to ask. Who buys this ivory?
Earnest groups patrol for poachers and
arrest sellers and confiscate poached evils, but
those with money enough to buy have
clout enough to hide or we allow them
to remain hidden behind lavish excesses
of endless kinds, hiding the sickness they carry
behind false fronts of our own contrived desires—
convinced that their perceived ease is our only goal.
In the pain of this poem is not where
i want to be this morning. In the dusty
Mara waiting for rain, waiting for humanity
to remember where we came from, where
we can again live whole and connected
among kin of all kinds who know us
as worthy of being mourned, i feel
the touch of sensitive trunk on my streaked cheek.
In my breath can i carry this song
of our truth—our birthright wealth? In my
heart can a scent of love spend the only
currency that matters? With my strong legs
i can embrace the work, celebrate the work, of
releasing our aspiration to laziness, so that
in my cupped hands, i can gather ripe fruits
to carry to all who hunger.
What I Didn’t Say
What I didn’t say
was that I was not sorry,
That you deserved
every faltering and bold moment
I loved you
What I didn’t say
was the space between notes
and the harbinger of changes
that I hadn’t heralded yet
All the words I did not speak
Still bitter on my tongue
And in their place
A thousand sorrys
I did not mean
I am not sorry
for my heart tremors
erotic night dreams
and the wicked way my hands scraped skin
I am not sorry
For falling, impetuous and blind
into the volcanic mess of you
The stifling and choking cloud
Heat of resistance
I am not sorry for sacrificing
my heart cells
to the lost cause of you and yours
You can have them,
the cardiac muscle and hardest working fibers
What I didn’t say
you can take them all
You need them more than I do.
I’ve been preaching to my mind
In forced moments of stillness,
When images of you surface
Nothing really exists.
Least of all you
Least of all me.
Nothing is permanent.
To hold on is to suffer.
i am not attached.
i am not in need.
You are nothing.
As everything is nothing and
Nothing is in the everything.
So even though you may
have seemed my everything
You are, as all, just nothing.
Just Neo’s spoon.
And I know now
There is no spoon.
So it can bend and move,
Or cease to exist.
There is no you.
No words you gave
Or thoughts you implanted.
There’s nothing but the breath
And the heat within me
Forging in time,
mine of universal light
And maybe this is the way I let you go.
Because you are the
Regret of my past
The ill-placed hope of my future
And all I really have…
Is the empty now.
Thanks for reading through all of those beautiful journeys into humanity. Now, I present to you a short and sweet bulleted list of tips for submitting your work:
- Do your research: There’s nothing worse than sending your erotic, atheist, non-trad poem to a Christian Journal looking for pieces to be read aloud at their yearly conference. Know the journal/mag/contest you are submitting to. Try to write or match up a poem that fits what they’re looking for or at least the general “flavor” of their publication.
- Be respectful and follow the guidelines: Every submission has guidelines. Read them. Follow them. If it seems like jumping through hoops is a waste of your time, thinking of sending out 35 submissions that don’t even qualify. That’s a waste. Most guidelines can be found on the website beneath or within the “Submissions” page.
- Make sure your work is complimentary and tight: If you send out a group (3-5) poems it will help to have the poems compliment one another in some way, so the tone is not too disruptive but it also shows the depth of your writing skill. Also. EDIT. I know poetry is a bit free form and we can play with spellings and words to make things interesting, but don’t play it that way if you really just didn’t feel like spell checking.
- Keep a Log of your submissions: If you use Submittable (and many contests, journals and mags do), it will track who you’ve sent work to, when, and how much the fee was if applicable. This not only helps you keep on budget but it allows to see where your work is and query or move on if no responses are given with the appropriate time frame. If you don’t want to go that route, you can make a spreadsheet in Excel, or keep a notebook with the date submitted, the publisher/journal, the poem(s) sent, the expected response time, entry fee, and anything else that you feel like creating a column for.
- Don’t be afraid or discouraged by rejection: I’ve known poets who submit over 700 times a year and maybe get only five to ten poems published. I’m not nearly that ambitious but it helps to know that its just part of the game, and is not necessarily a reflection of your work so much as it is a matter of odds.
- Know your ownership rights: Some forums will require that they have the sole publishing rights for a certain amount of time, meaning you can’t put it on your website or shop it around, even to local or smaller works. Be sure that you are okay with their terms of publication.
- Start Small: Ya’ll I’m not even joking. One of the biggest secrets to publishing is to not throw your heart into the cauldron of huge publishing factories. Not only will your work get lost in the endless entries from around the globe, but it may not get into readers’ hands in the same way you wrote it. Do yourself a favor and research local magazines, niche magazines (think Erotic Atheist Digest?), local writing groups, and small literary presses. While they can be more discerning in some respects, they also carry the torch of being outliers that appreciate the art in a more grassroots way.
Well…holy smokes this might be one of my longest posts but, I did also promise you some good starting points for sending out your work. So, big breath in, you’re in the home stretch.
- Thrush Journal
- Ghost City Review
- Barren Magazine
- Little Death Lit
- Palette Poetry
- Wildness Journal
- Androit Journal
- Frontier Poetry
- Winter Tangerine
Don’t forget to search local college/university literary journals, local publishing companies or poetry groups, and independent journals. Don’t be afraid to, every once in a while, send your stuff to bigger places too. The Harvard Review and Poetry Magazine as well as The New Yorker usually also accept submissions.
Until next week! Happy Writing!