Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rumi Nation

I'm not really responding to this post by Nick Courtright directly, but it's certainly worth reading, and I suppose has to do somewhat with the semblance of a post I'm writing now.

Because yes, folks, it's that time again. Submission time.

I feel like I have about 6 poems ready to be out in the world. Usually my date is October 31st for the fall. With the exception of very few journals, that's usually a safe date to get your work out there. That said, I started thinking about waiting, and it seemed a bit ridiculous, especially when I have a batch that I think is ready to go out. And many journals are reading starting September 1st. Agni, Bat City Review, Puerto del Sol, and West Branch are even switching to online submission systems (the infamous Devin Emke one that everyone is using, if they're not just accepting .doc or .rtf files via email), which is great, and which I just found out yesterday. I imagine that trend probably helps journals get more and more shitty work that isn't even close to publishable ("It's free, why not?"), but then again, it probably encourages folks who are writing good stuff to go ahead instead of being lazy, which we can all be, especially since stuffing envelopes isn't the most fun thing out there.

When I send stuff out I'm always inspired to write new stuff. I may still be tinkering with them... oh no, did I just say that? "How dare you send stuff out and still work on the poems." Pretty sure everyone does it, so I got over that a while ago, especially if you're just tinkering with the mostly meaningless things. If you're changing whole stanzas or endings, maybe you shouldn't be sending your work out.

And yes, who knows if anyone will ever want "Ghost Lights," but as I said, 37 of the 39 poems are published, which means at the very least, those aren't going out anymore. It may be a fat stack of papers as just a manuscript, sitting in my desk forever or as a file on my computer, but at least I don't have to make batches of poems that have already been rejected by many places. I should mention that I don't give up on my work either, as far as trying to publish. My thing is if it's a good poem, it'll find a home. If you want to give up on your work or be lazy, that leaves more room for my work. No, I'm not obsessed with publishing. Yes, when poems are ready to go out, I send them out. Make of that what you will.

See the posts below about Stacey Lynn Brown's debacle with her book, which has also spurred many of us to really consider all the issues, especially those of us with first books we're "shopping around," since that's essentially what we're all doing by sending to contests. Open reading periods? Starting your own presses? Reb has a good response to everything (post on 8/25/08), full of thoughtful things to say, from someone who has a lot of experience on where she's coming from. But then again, I wonder why Cider Press Review even started, how and why. Maybe they felt the same way, but decided to do a fair contest system, or something like that. Who knows?

Either way, there's been a lot to think about lately with people finding out about this. Maybe it'll die its little poetry death soon enough, but I hope people are paying attention, as much as they can, for reasons I'm not sure of yet.

I don't really know where this post was meant to go, but I don't really feel like deleting it. So be it.