30 October 2020

Rejection letters, and submissions in active review.

I received two rejection letters this week, one from Outlook Springs, and the other from Pidgeonholes, an online journal. Both are looking for work that's a little different. The former is "devoted to fiction, poetry, and non-fiction tinged with the strange." Pidgeonhole's tag line is "weird bird. weird words." As I've mentioned in another post, I have trouble classifying my own work, so I'm always choosing to submit to journals that seem to have an interest in work that's a bit odd, but I often find that my brand of odd isn't exactly what they're looking for.

At Submittable, I've noticed that at least a half-dozen submissions have moved from "Received" to "In Progress" this week. I think several calls for submissions had deadlines between October 15th and October 31st, so it's likely that editors are beginning to review work now that the submission windows are shuttered. 

I hope that this will bring some good news, and some acceptance letters--I have an obnoxious number of submissions out in the world right now, and I would like to find a home for at least a few more newer poems. 

I sent out a selection of poems to Boxcar Poetry Review and to The New Southern Fugitives this week, as well. Both have deadlines in November.

26 October 2020

A third poem is selected by The Louisville Review--"The Gap to Salvation"

I received a short email from Amy Kapoor at The Louisville Review this morning, and they are going to publish a third poem, "The Gap to Salvation," though they originally passed on the work. What a wonderful bit of unexpected news!

I am thrilled to have a set of three poems in the publication at once; and, this poem is a new work--The Louisville Review was the first journal to consider it. I am feeling really confident in the quality of my new poems as a result.

22 October 2020

Steel House Review goes on hiatus, frees up poetry.

I received an email this week from the editors of Steel House Review; they are moving to an indefinite hiatus.

I ended up with a tidy packet of three poems that I could send out to a new journal, too; Ruminate Magazine has a deadline approaching, so I decided to submit there, hoping something of mine will catch an editor's eye as they make the last choices for the next issue.  

Back to SHR, though. I am surprised, frankly, that more small publishing houses and journals haven't shuttered while I've had work on their desks. It's such an uncertain time for writers and educators both--and most publications are run by one or the other . . . or both. 

Steel House Review is a nice little independent online journal--I'm sorry to see its doors shuttered, but I hope that the editors find this time to be restorative for them.

Steel House Review


20 October 2020

Another post on the same day. Rejection, revision, resubmission.

I've been spending my morning working on refining some older poems today, and I received a rejection from Bat City Review in my email. 

I was disappointed, because I feel those particular poems are a few of my stronger new poems. That being said, two of the four have been revised substantially since I sent them out to Bat City. I decided to take a quick look at the other two, then send the packet back out to another publication today.

In revising my poem "Marriage," I think I made a few small but incredibly effective revisions, and I think all four poems are significantly better than they were even a few weeks ago. 

So, I sent out a much finer set of poems to Tar River Poetry--they are running an open call for their Spring 2021 issue, and their deadline is October 31.

October: A few poems sent out, a few poems rejected, and a thought about chapbooks.

As I've mentioned already, I've been looking at my book manuscript, and while it feels cohesive, I also think I could probably glean two separate chapbook collections from the full-length manuscript.

I am thinking more about doing just that, if the manuscript does not make the finalists for either first book prize. I may enter dueling chapbooks in a few contests in spring, instead of trying for another first book prize. 

Maybe by then, I'll have some more work, too--I haven't been generating much of value since school started in late September, but I'm still revising regularly and keeping submissions sent out to journals and magazines. 

Since this summer, I've been largely using Submittable to find and explore new publication opportunities, when for many years, I've used Duotrope. I still pay for my Duotrope membership, but it is becoming a bit of a dinosaur, because Submittable offers much of the same information paired with the actual submission interface used by most journals. I check over the Duotrope weekly newsletters, and every few weeks, I'll complete a few searches, but even with that, I find I use the Submittable "discover" option more frequently.

In the last two weeks, I've submitted a selection of work to the Roanoke Review, and another selection to The Citron Review. 

I also received a standard rejection from Jet Fuel Review on three poems. I'm working on one of the poems submitted, because it really looks like a clunker now that I am appropriately shamed by its rejection. So, revisions are under way, and that is a very good thing--worth the rejection, perhaps. 

I am teaching from home until at least April, and last week I raided my campus office for a few books to help with generating new material. I miss having my "craft books" here at the house, but I have a small office and a small house, and I had to make the choice to separate my library. My collections of poetry are at home; my books on craft are at the office.

The Daily Poet, from Two Sylvias Press. I bought this book several years ago on a whim at AWP--the women who run Two Sylvias Press are lovely people, also! I've spoken to them more than once while standing at their book fair table. (I am quite awkward in social situations, but the AWP Book Fair is a must. They are a small oasis in that chaos.) The book offers one poem prompt per day--some are not right for me, but many are fantastic. It's a great "flip book" when I want to write but am feeling blocked. They also have an "advent calendar" of writing prompts for December that I'll be purchasing, too. : )

13 October 2020

The pretentious nature of scrambling to publish poetry.

I am hoping that by writing this little blog, I'm taking some of the pretentious behaviors out of the process of submitting my work for publication. 

This time of year contains the anniversary of the UCC shooting, but it also contains both wedding anniversaries and a divorce anniversary. October brings a lot of baggage with it. And in 2020, with the pandemic and an election year piled on top, I have been trying to avoid pressuring myself to do anything. 

Fortunately, stepping down from being chair combined with the current work-from-home order at UCC gave me ample time to work my writing back into daily practice. As we reach the middle of October, I'm writing and revising nearly every single day. I am proud of that, and I feel lighter as a result. I am not really writing about my ex-husband (late husband?) or the UCC shooting, but I feel like they are now topics that can be easily moved off my desk, so to speak, so that I can get busy with the business of writing poetry that focuses on other topics and other people. 

That being said, I am also just starting to write about my second husband a little bit. There's a lot to unpack there. 

In the past, most of my motivation and momentum for sending work out for publication consideration revolved around my participation in a workshop setting. In graduate school, I sent work out all the time. In the fifteen years since I graduated, I've struggled to stay committed to seeing my work published. I feel that's finally changed this year. I have five months until I turn 50; now is the time.

First, seeking publication is always something I see people keep close to the vest, myself included--writers struggle with rejection and acceptance, but I think we also struggle with the incredible vulnerability of putting ourselves out there--hanging, waiting--for some stranger to pass judgement. 

What journals are "good" journals? What small journals are "too small"? Am I selling my work short by sending to a smaller, fledgling journal, or am I wasting everyone's time by sending work to larger, established, "important" publications? Who knows--I'm not sure any of us know. 

And, I'm being honest--2020 marks eight years since my last poems were published. But, 2020 also marks several new publications that are forthcoming. This is a new start, and a new approach to the process. 

Putting myself and my poetry out there is hard work, emotionally. It's time-consuming, and it's not always a reciprocal process. Sometimes I'm still embarrassed of the mistakes I make, but sometimes I'm also proud of the progress I'm making. Sometimes I look at a poem and think, "that's REALLY good." Sometimes that poem is mine. 

So, I'm looking forward to continuing to write and revise and submit into 2021 and beyond, and I'm going to continue to record my progress and my setbacks here at this little blog. I don't think anyone really reads it, but I feel good about writing it.

07 October 2020

Fall term, a rejection letter, and first book contests

Monday started the second week of the fall term--my teaching is all online this fall, but I have about 90 students across four classes, and I am spending a lot of time answering emails and explaining assignments to students, many of whom did not want to take online classes. For the time being, what can be taught online is being taught online--because our writing and literature classes are already established online, at least I'm not trying to build entire course shells while I teach.

I received a rejection letter yesterday on a submission of three poems--just a brief form letter, with no invitations to submit again. The work is still being considered by a few other journals, so I'm not in a rush to turn the poems around and send them out again. I have a variety of work out at a few dozen different places, so I have a nice cushion while I get my fall term under control a bit. 

I started to pull together a manuscript last weekend, and of course, I've been obsessed with the task since I started. I have been revising and reading daily, and I'm feeling pretty good about what I have. The manuscript is about 60 pages long, and it has about five informal sections or suites of poems. 

I am submitting to the APR/Honickman First Book Prize is being judged by Ada Limón this year, and I hope that my submission can make it through the screening process. I admire her Limón's work a great deal, and I hope that I have a decent chance. 

I also submitted to the Persea Books/Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize--which selects a winning manuscript from women who have not yet published a first book. The prize includes an all-expenses-paid six-week residency in Umbria, Italy, so that's pretty incredible, too.

I have been waffling--do I have two chapbook manuscripts, or do I have a full-length book here? I think it could probably go either way, but I'm going to try to stick to the full-length manuscript and send it out to a total of 3-4 first book contests this winter. 

I feel good about having that sizeable body of work out in the world, though!

03 October 2020

Writing habits, 10/1, and a forthcoming publication

EDIT: I started writing this, and it went all over the place. I'm going to leave it as it is. 

I was working late into the night last night--not really, but I was working on revisions and checking my submissions in Submittable, and I'm in a weird place with my revisions and drafts. 

Everything that is in good shape is sent out in simultaneous submissions, and while I'm working a bit, here and there, on some older pieces, I'm having trouble drafting anything new in the last few weeks. 

The anniversary of the UCC shooting was this past week, on Thursday. That date always looms, and I never forget about it, but I do tend to dismiss how many things in my life are impacted by that date.

Every September, my physical health takes a bit of a dive, and I'm filled with anxiety and dread. Usually by the second week of October (once all reminders of what was lost have been packed away for another year), I am physically better. I just have a few more days to go, hopefully, until the nausea subsides. What I've noticed this year is that I miss my friend Larry a great deal--he's been on my mind a lot this summer. I would be so excited to share my new work with him, and he would have been eager to read it. I miss his presence in the world a great deal. 

I do realize that I need to extend myself some grace each year in September and October, but I have been on such a roll . . . the writing and drafting and thinking about poetry is starting to become a habit that I look foward to for the first time since my MFA.

I have been really enjoying the forward momentum of my writing, so this temporary block has been a struggle. I realize even through writing this, that I'm still a ways away from being able to write about the shooting, but I hope to one day be in that space. I would like to write about Larry, and I've taken notes to do so, but I just haven't felt right about it yet. I used to think that I'd never want to write about anything to do with the shooting, so again--I see progress.

I'm still practicing and revising almost daily, it's just that I'm not making much headway in the last week or two. It is really encouraging to log into Submittable, though, and see how many places are currently reading my work. I am glad that I've put in that labor--it take a lot of hours and detail-oriented record-keeping to stay organized and current with who-is-reading-what sometimes. 

So the reason I brought up that I was working on revisions last night. I was revising until about 8 pm, when I went to bed. I was up by 4:00 am, which is my normal--and I'd received an acceptance overnight!

The journal In Parentheses is publishing two poems of mine in their fall print issue--"For Rus" and "Driving to Portland."

I just spent some time yesterday revising "For Rus," and I re-titled it "An Overdue Elegy." Unfortunately for how much I like the new title, it's going to be "For Rus" for now. This poem is a new, revisited draft of a poem I wrote many years ago. A high school friend took his own life, and at the time I wrote this horrendous memorial poem. Revisioning that over the summer, with a 49-year-old's lens, made it a much stronger work. I am really excited that it's going to be published. 

"Driving to Portland" is a new poem, written this summer from some notes I took down in a journal a few years back. 

I will update this post when I have details about when the fall issue will be available, and when/if the poems go live online.

In Parentheses