Confession: I have a different perspective than I used to when I approach submitting my work to literary journals. Many editors will advise (which I agree with of course) that you should read past issues to get an idea of the sort of work they publish. But what is more important is that, as a writer looking to publish, you should ask yourself, “Do I like the work this is published in this journal?” “Is this the sort of work that I would want to read?” Chances are, if you don’t relate with the writing or art, the journal may not be a good match for your work. You should move on and keep exploring other journals. Remember, there is A LOT of poetry in the world that will never get read, just like there is A LOT of good music that will never get heard. Discovering new audiences and venues to showcase your work is all part of the experience of being a creative writer.
Sometimes I get submission recommendations through X, Facebook, or word of mouth. However, if you are looking to do some digging on your own, Duotrope: Find publishers and agents. Track submissions. Get published. is a great resource. The service sends regular emails when both paid and unpaid journals open and close for submissions, along with some recommendations for literary agents.
Another confession, I struggle with writing poems that are overly personal. My poems tend to evolve from structures (formal or invented, but more invented these days) that contain broader issues of philosophy. This isn’t to say these poems aren’t personal to me, but they aren’t necessarily driven by my feelings, it’s more curiosity about the human condition or, possibly, what could happen next.
As a result, some feedback I have received from editors, is that there isn’t enough of me in the poem. But then I have heard back from editors right away, saying “Yes,” we like this. This isn’t to say I won’t humbly take an editor’s view to heart, I certainly do, but if it completely changes the nature of what the poem wants to do, then I may save that feedback to incorporate in another poem.
Also, if there is a poet or writer that you enjoy reading, look in the back of their book and see what journals accepted their poems or stories. There’s a chance it might be journals you enjoy reading too.
Speaking of journals, I am a huge fan of the ambidextrous bloodhound press family of publications. Previously my poem, “Along the Edge of the World,” was published in their sister publication, U n l o s t : Journal of Found Poetry and Art (unlostjournal.com).
Now, I am thrilled to have new work included in RIGHT HAND POINTING, Issue 153: “The Breathing Pine.” It is a treat to see my work alongside other great poems. Link to read the complete issue is below.
As always, Cheers!