Already a Bit of Serendipity

The post office decided to help me out with this blog by delivering a package including Issue 53 (March 2007) of remark.–this issue actually guest-edited by C. Allen Rearick. This very well could be the last acceptance I can point to this year, and I’m not ashamed to admit that my poem “buried alive” is by far the shortest piece in the issue measuring in at only 4 lines. For me, it’s not the size that matters, but what you do with that size.

I could just say, “Go me,” and call it a blog, but I really want this to develop into a community. So I’m going to include one of my TOP SECRET poetry submission tips: When you submit batches of poems, whether 2 or 10, vary the length of your pieces.

Putting on my editor’s cap, I have to make editorial decisions based off many criteria. Space is one criterion that comes up often. If an editor has 30 lines to fill and 2 poets with 20-line poems, then it’s simple mathematics that only 1 poet will make it in the issue. That gives you a 50% chance of being accepted. If you happened to include a killer poem of 10 lines or less, then your chances increase.

Of course, the shorter poem still has to be very good and fit within the editorial scheme the editor has planned for that issue, but editors constantly are forced to make difficult decisions between poems and poets they love equally. If you have quality poems of different lengths, it makes perfect math sense to bundle different sized poems.

Let me know if you agree or disagree with this. Let’s continue to build our community together.




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4 thoughts on “Already a Bit of Serendipity

  1. Chuck Keller

    I admire poets who can say a lot with a few words. Haiku can be wonderful if properly handled.

    Attempting to convey a LARGE message in so few words is the ultimate challenge for a poet. And rhyme can add to the difficulty.

    Here’s one of my attempts at short verse:

    A Jealous Sky

    Competing with the blue of your eyes
    The ocean was heard to cry aloud.
    And with painful, heartfelt sighs
    A jealous sky hid behind a cloud.

  2. Robert Brewer

    Thanks for stirring the pot (and the poet), Nancy.

    I should add that my number one TOP SECRET poetry submission tip (oh no, I’ve already used up 2 TOP SECRET tips in 1 post) is to write great poems. No other submission tip will matter without a very high level of writing to back it up.

    But yes, I think you actually echoed my tip in a different phrasing by mentioning poets should "always submit a good representation of their work, with a variety of themes and lengths."

    That’s what I was trying to get at in my bumbling way.

  3. Nancy B.

    Hey, Robert! I’m going to stir the pot here by putting in my 2 cents’ worth: Certainly poetry editors are concerned about length, and poets should always submit a good representation of their work, with a variety of themes and lengths. Whether varying lengths increases your chances of publication, I’m really not sure. It really depends on the editor and the magazine, I guess, and how the issue is planned. For instance, if an editor has planned a given number of pages devoted to poetry and prints only one poem per page, the poem on that page can range in length from a couple of lines to 30 or so. (Come to think of it, I guess it also depends on what you mean by "short" poems.)

    Any poetry editors out there who want to contribute to this discussion and clarify things? I seem to be confusing myself!


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