With a few weeks break, I found myself easing back into the poet life. I’m still not writing prolifically, but when the mood strikes me, I write. I’ve focused more lately on finding places to publish the poems I have written. I don’t know how other poets do it, but I have a blank book, navy blue with a silver unicorn on the cover, that I write down all my submissions in: name of magazine or website, date, and titles. The earliest entry in it is from 1987, so this method has proved useful for me for quite a while.
Even those damned “Submittables” submissions, most often required for contests, are recorded by hand in the blue book. If something is declined, I put a neat line through it and try to note the date I received the rejection, to keep better track of what that publication’s turnaround time was. In this day and age, with email and the aforementioned portal, a staff that takes more than a month to respond really has no excuse.
I happily score a few hits from time to time. I contend that there is somewhere on the Interwebs for every poem, no matter your content or skill level. In fact, I spent a few weeks combing Google for lists of poetry magazines to submit to. Such is the ephemeral nature of small press literary magazines that many of these lists contained mostly dead links, or archived issues. We know that poetry is never important enough in the literary world (especially poetry written by non-academics) to warrant an agent, and my time to search is limited by my 9 to 5 life.
I have a particular voice, no doubt. I’m not abstract, militant, or clubby. I have friends in all of those groups, some I love dearly, but finding a place for the work of a middle-aged amateur with half a Masters degree, partnered but not possessed, childless but not angrily so, observant but not obsessive, will always be a challenge. Should I start my own online ‘zine? It’s certainly an idea I’ve toyed with for decades. What would it take? Will I have time to do it justice? Will anyone but me read it?
Through my blog, www.flyingmonkeyprods.blogspot.com, I whimsically offered a poetry contest last year during the Pandemic. Themed to the Wild West solely because of a charming photo of Annie Oakley I stumbled across, the prize was publication on the blog. There were a respectable number of entries, and the winners were all worthy. Afterward, though, I received a complaint from someone wondering why the three top choices were all written by males. I am not one for quotas, especially on this level, and merely selected the three poems that most delighted me. I asked for no proof of what was in their pants. And so, another contest may be far in the future, in these hypersensitive times.
I had a sudden epiphany about submissions– why not resubmit to those magazines that have published me in the past? Instead of casting a wider net, why not go deeper? Most of them were still in business, and I already knew that they were interested in my voice. And so I have sent out about a dozen separate poems to four or five magazines I have a prior relationship with. One hit so far, and a couple of not surprising misses. But this method has at least allowed me to focus on a proven group of supporters, or maybe sympathizers. At least I can spend more time on writing now when the urge hits.