I spent my entire day on Sunday preparing submissions and doing research into contests. By entire day, I mean I got up, inhaled a piece of fresh bread smothered in Nutella (om nom nom), chugged some tea and settled into the couch with my lap top only to emerge about six hours later.
It is time consuming work to send poems to journals, although even in the short time I have been sending work out, I’ve noticed marked improvements in the process:
1. Electronic submission. Honestly, I’m really glad most journals have jumped on this bandwagon by either using submission managers or allowing email submissions. While it is considerably easier and less paper filled, the real reason I like it is because it is cheaper. For example, I usually send out to 30-40 places in a given period. You start adding ink, paper, postage & envelopes and it can start to get a bit pricey. I’d rather save this money for contest fees or books.
2. Lovely websites. I’ve noticed that many journals have really stepped up in terms of their websites. It’s easier to find guidelines and contact information. It’s easier to “read what the journal is looking for” when you can read back issues online instead of suffocating under a pile of hard copies. They layouts are beautiful. It’s just better. Period.
3. Simultaneous submissions. I won’t send to a journal if they don’t accept simultaneous submissions. This isn’t some snooty statement, it’s just practical fact. I’m trying to get my work out there. Not being able to send it to anyone else while a certain journal is considering it is not practical. However, if I were a poetry genius I suppose I would not mind just sending to NER or Ploughshares. I love these magazines but I think it’s a bit silly. Sorry.
4. Less pretentious all around. Let’s face it, poetry often gets a bad wrap for being pretentious and hard to understand. I’m encouraged by seeing new journals and small presses trying to carve out their own place in the poetry world. I’m also encouraged to see less annoying descriptions under the What We Want section. In the past I would not read these sections because if I heard one more editor say “We’re looking for beautiful poems that use interesting language and surprise us” I was going to scream. I mean personally, I’m looking for poems that are boring, poorly written and predictable. C’mon man.
5. New Pages. I’ve always loved this blog/website but I appreciate more and more as I work on submissions. I cannot imagine how much longer the submission process would take if there was not a comprehensive site like New Pages to organize listings of calls for submissions, contests and reviews.
All of this being said, I encounter the same feeling every time I put a new batch of submissions together. This feeling can best be described as exhiliration slowly giving way to panic. I used to worry more about it but now I just accept it and move on. As if submitting individual poems was not enough, I’ve decided to start sending out to chapbook contests. I’ve got my manuscript almost where I want it and as they say, there’s no time like the present.