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Submitting to US poetry journals, part 1

You know how it happens – you start following a link, then you get so engrossed in something you end up forgetting about your current ‘to do’ list. So there I was, reading a poet’s biog, I followed a link to a magazine I didn’t recognise, and got thinking ‘hmm, my XYZ poem could work well here’. It was a US online journal, and I remembered I was once going to write a blog post about submitting to US journals, aimed primarily at UK poets.

First of all, an admission: I don’t have a great track record of subscribing or submitting to US journals, but I enjoy Rattle and used to subscribe to Poetry (until they decided to make it very difficult for non-US residents to subscribe).** In the past I’ve never felt confident that my work would fit. Too British. But I’m starting to feel that may be changing.

** UPDATED 21/8 – after hearing from Don Share on Twitter, I can report that Poetry’s online subscription process now accommodates overseas addresses, so I have re-subscribed. Huge thanks to Don – I’m somewhat amazed that the editor of the most famous poetry mag in what was once known as ‘the free world’ should take the time and care to reach out to a humble subscriber. Truly deserving of a Mexican wave around the poetry community.

As with all journals, it’s a good a idea to sample a publication before submitting. This is of course where online magazines come into their own – you can read current and back issues and check out their aesthetic. Also, you’ll often find very specific information about a US journal’s mission and what they welcome (other than the not terribly helpful ‘send us your best work’ which always strikes me as odd. Why would I even want an editor to read and publish something if I don’t feel it represents my best work?)

So how do you start submitting to these magazines?

  1. The Poetry Society of America has a long list of magazines  – this is a great resource but I suspect it hasn’t been updated lately. There are forty-nine journals listed here which have broken links, and some magazines aren’t listed. Still useful though.
  2. Read poet biogs – once you start browsing US poetry magazines you’ll find poems/poets you like, or that you could imagine your work appearing alongside. Read the biogs, see where else they are published, and check out those places.
  3. Start collecting info on a spreadsheet – web address, editor’s name, submission window dates, link to submission guidelines, and so forth. It can then be a monthly task to check what windows are coming up, and decide whether to submit or not.

Deciding where to submit

Not every journal is going to be right for your work, and there may be other reasons why you are attracted to one magazine over another. For example I know I’m influenced by things like the stated response time and whether they use Submittable (which I like). I’m perfectly happy with paying a small reading fee, whereas I know some poets are not.

Getting the information together is a first step. Then I try to narrow it down to a few targets, revisit them and read more, think about what poems I might send them or set a reminder to do this once their window is open.

Personally I like to have a bit of a strategy because I feel it’s the best use of my time. I don’t have that many poems at any one time so a scattergun approach wouldn’t work for me. But I know some poets always have plenty of poems ready to send. If that’s you, and you target magazines who are OK with simultaneous submissions, then you could set aside some time and do a mass send out.

In my next post I’ll be listing some US magazines, with submission details and other info. Depending on how long this turns out to be, it may be more than one post.

Meanwhile, if you have any experiences of US poetry magazines that you’ve submitted to, or considered submitting to, or any stories/advice you’d like to share, do let me know in the comments.

10 Comments on “Submitting to US poetry journals, part 1

  • Jill Fricker
    August 16, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Thank you Robin. You are always so generous sharing your researched information, and it’s greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    • Robin Houghton
      August 20, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      You’re welcome, Jill – happy to share what I find out!

      Reply
  • Pam Thompson
    August 16, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    This is very useful, Robi.n – thank you. I have never submitted to an American publication although I have always intended to. Hopefully this will be the spur to make me do it!

    Reply
    • Robin Houghton
      August 20, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks Pam – it’s new for me too – quite exciting! Good luck if you decide to send out.

      Reply
  • Deborah Sloan
    August 16, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Thanks for this post, Robin. Looking forward to reading about the US journals. It’s a full-time job, this submitting stuff!

    Reply
    • Robin Houghton
      August 20, 2017 at 5:03 pm

      Hi Deborah – yes it can be a bit of a mission, can’t it? Good fun once you get a system going I think.

      Reply
  • J V Birch
    August 17, 2017 at 7:27 am

    Thanks for this Robin. Yes, Rattle is great and has a variety of submission calls, including a monthly ekphrastic challenge. Red River Review is meant to be a reputable journal that some of my fellow poets have appeared in and then I’ve recently had a poem published in Ponder Review, which is a new journal with themed submission calls. Will be interested to see your final list 🙂

    Reply
    • Robin Houghton
      August 20, 2017 at 5:08 pm

      Hi Julie, and thanks for commenting – that’s very interesting, Red River Review and Ponder Review (I like that name!) are new ones on me so I shall check them out. I can see from your own website you seem to have have quite a bit of experience submitting worldwide. Following the blogs of poets based elsewhere in the world has to be a good way for poets to discover new journals 🙂

      Reply
  • Maggie Sawkins
    August 19, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Hi Robin

    Some years ago I had some poems published in Coal City Review which is the magazine of University of Kansas. The editor, Brian Daldorph, is originally from the UK. He actually contacted me and invited me to submit after seeing some of my poems in a British journal. I haven’t tried any other American journals but it’s something I’m interested in and would be grateful for any tips. I’m not an avid submitter of my work generally!

    Reply
    • Robin Houghton
      August 20, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      Hi Maggie – it must have been nice to have been asked, rather than having to submit 🙂 I’ve noticed a lot of the US mags are published by universities. Thanks for the Coal City Review tip – I will add that to the list!

      Reply
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