First of all a huge thank you to Matthew Stewart of Rogue Strands who has once again mentioned my blog in his ‘Best UK Poetry Blogs of the Year’ roundup. It’s exciting to be in there with such great company, and always very nice to know this blog is read and enjoyed. I think all bloggers have those days when you’re writing something and you suddenly think “what if no-one reads this, am I just sneezing into the ether?” or whatever.
Now we have those crazy last two weeks before Christmas which, in a musical household, tends to mean every spare moment is taken up with concerts and the myriad jobs they involve. Poetry has to take a secondary role. Having said that, tonight is a last huzzah of the year with the Brighton Stanza having a seasonal evening of readings, magazine-swapping, socialising, celebrating and commiserating. I’ve managed to delegate the compering to two fine poets with big personalities and am looking forward to hearing a wide variety of poetry styles and performances from our eclectic mix of members, Brighton-stylee.
Submissions news: no news (and not necessarily good news). But I did come across a very handy tool put together by Nathaniel Tower on his blog Juggling Writer – it’s a spreadsheet for keeping track of submissions. (The link to it is about halfway through this article.) My own submissions tracking started off very well but has gone a bit scruffy lately, and having inputted my current ‘out’ poems into Nathaniel’s nice clean version, I can see at-a-glance that I have 13 poems that have been out for 34 days, 4 for 50 days, 2 for 61 days, 4 for 89 days and 4 for a whopping 114 days.
I did recently enquire about the four poems that were submitted 114 days ago (August 16th) – a very polite enquiry of the magazine in question, asking where they might be in their reading schedule to give me some idea of how much longer before a response. I was brief, and about as friendly, humble and self-effacing as I could be within the confines of human dignity. But it didn’t surprise me not to get a reply, which in itself makes me sad.
I’m trying very hard to see it from the magazine’s point of view. I’ve read all the articles about how editors are overwhelmed, losing money and hair, besieged by poets who don’t read the magazine or the guidelines, who pester and get shirty if they’re rejected and so forth. The magazine editors I know or have met are nice people with a difficult job. I do understand and generally speaking I know you just have to wait, and when you get a ‘no’, you move on and send it elsewhere. I obey the ‘no simultaneous submissions’ rules and am prepared to tie up poems for months on end, that’s just what poets do. I rarely enquire – but when I do, I wring my hands and think and think about the wording. I try to be as considerate as possible. But I don’t think it would be unreasonable to submit elsewhere after five months if a gentle query brings no reply.
Do you agree? Do you ever enquire about a submission, and if so, at what point? Do you get a response?
Meanwhile, a quick plug for the next Telltale Press event at the Poetry Cafe in London on Wednesday 7th January at 7pm – please come if you’re anywhere near London. It’s FREE! On the bill are Catherine Smith, Canadian poet Rhona McAdam, Siegfreid Baber plus Peter Kenny and myself. There’s a Facebook event page, let us know if you’re coming and hope to see you there.