by Tricia Knoll
Publication of poetry in online journals offers some specific joys for poets like me who like printed books – but also like to share their poetry with the widest possible circle of friends and acquaintances.
I use four sources to guide my decisions on where to send my online journal submissions:
- Poets & Writers magazine
- Duotrope, an online site that charges a fee of $60 for a year’s subscription but is well worth it. It provides a robust tracking system for submissions, profiles and links to journal websites, average response times, percentages of submissions accepted, interviews with editors and more. It emails me a weekly newsletter with upcoming deadlines.
- New Pages: a no-fee weekly email with calls for submissions and links to the submission requirements.
- WOMPO (Women Poets): a listserv that sometimes includes calls for submissions. This is an open listserv discussion of women’s poetry. It requires registration, has some rules to abide by, and generates a lot of email because it’s a discussion listserv with lots of conversations back and forth. A fun resource.
I know some poets submit only to print publications. They want to feel the poem in their hands. I understand that. Today I tallied my publication database to determine where my poems have landed since I began seriously submitting six years ago. Of the 97 poems I’ve had published, 80 percent have appeared in online journals – the rest in anthologies or print journals. (This is bit skewed since I am a regular contributor to The New Verse News, an online site that prints poems rooted in what’s happening today from a politically progressive slant.)
Sharing the good news
I maintain an email list of 200 people who at one point or another indicated an interest in my poetry. The list started with my ever-patient family. I try to “gang up” publication email notifications so there are only two a month. I’m happy to remove someone who gets tired of my notifications – that happens.
I like publishing in online journals and posting publication news on Facebook because it is easy for my Facebook friends and the poetry community to access those poems. I use the Facebook “like” feature for many journals where my work has appeared, to track what interests the editors. Some online journals have an option for on-demand print of copies if you want paper for your files.
That said, there are several poetry print publications that I always read and subscribe to. One is Windfall: A Journal of Poetry of Place. Much of my poetry is Portland/Pacific Northwest eco-system based – and that’s what Windfall publishes. I cannot describe how excited I was when CALYX, A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, accepted two poems for its upcoming print issue. As poets I think we need to support print publications as much as we can financially. I am not saying online publishing is or should be the end of the beauty of these important journals.
Some poets express irritation about online journals that charge a $3 reading fee for a submission of 3-5 poems. I pay these reading fees depending on my interest in the journal. Online submission means I don’t have to package up poems for mailing and pay postage. The journal has to pay fees for their submission management tools such as Submittable. Editors might want to print out submissions on paper. Some poets may not wish to pay anything; if so, there are plenty of journals that do not charge reading fees. Duotrope is a good resource for sorting through who does and doesn’t require payment.
I have developed some nice relationships with online-journal editors. I’m thinking of James Penha at The New Verse News, the folks at About Place Journal, Elohi Gadugi and, of course, VoiceCatcher. I always thank the editors for acceptances and comment on knock-me-out wonderful graphics. A couple of editors – including VoiceCatcher’s and Windfall’s – have made suggestions for edits that greatly improved the poetry.
By May 22, 2014, copies of my first chapbook, Urban Wild, will be available from Finishing Line Press. Electronic submission. Electronic proofing. Electronic contract signatures and fulfillment. I have a lot of respect for Christen Kinkaid, Finishing Line’s editor. We have a relationship, albeit electronic.Thank goodness for good editors wherever they call home.
One piece of advice
When a poem is printed on an online journal, capture the exact URL to your poem. As more issues pile up for a journal, I’ve found the usual search tools can be a bit hit-or-miss in getting you back to your poem. With the exact URL, you can get to it months later or for as long as the journal is up and running. I’m building my own website that will have links to all the online journals where my poetry has appeared. Keep your own URL links at your fingertips.
I am endlessly tickled by the email responses I get from people who click through from my email or Facebook announcements to online journals. One person will consistently like my nutty poems. Another my sad lyric poems. Another my political laments or rantings. Or, all of a sudden, I’ll hear from someone on my list, like “Dear Sylvia” who told me a great story about her family playing Monopoly during the Depression. She responded to my poem “Snake Eyes and Paper Money” about my family’s Monopoly games in the basement during Illinois tornados. My daughter consistently “likes” my Facebook posts. Thank goodness for daughters.
Tricia Knoll is a Portland poet. Her chapbook Urban Wild –poems about interactions between wild and civilized creatures in the urban environment – becomes available in May 2014. It includes poems about ants, bed bugs, coyotes, squirrels, red-tail hawks and crows – in locations ranging from Portland’s SE Belmont Street and Lone Fir Cemetery to New York City at rush hour. Knoll is a Master Gardener with a love of native plants. Once a coyote bit her on the neck.