After Long Business, I’m back.

He's Ba-ack. . .
He’s Baa-ack . . .

Behold, faithful followers, I have returned after more or less a month of hiatus-ness. National Poetry Month in April always spurs me on to the writing of more of my own poems, but this year it has also spurred me on to the first serious, extended submission campaign of my life. I mean, I have submitted here and there, with short-lived conviction. Ten years ago I had a few successes, including an award from the University I was attending, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets, but I honestly haven’t submitted much since. Now with a few resources at hand, including a very helpful subscription to Duotrope, I am at it with gusto.

So sorting through and re-organizing my catalog of poetry files, researching my favorite literary magazines, online and in print, and systematically submitting has taken up a lot of my free time in the last month. I’ve even set some goals about how many submissions per week / per month, and I think I may keep you updated a bit here about my successes and rejections.

I remember some time back in the early 2000’s religiously following the blog of a poet who I liked more for her blog posts than for her poems. She so regularly posted about where she had recently sent poems and who sent rejections, and of course those rare and much prized moments when an editor specifically commented on a poem, even if it was rejected for publication “at this time.” I was so in love with her for her bravery, and her determination to be accountable.

Obviously she also posted her successes, and provided links to them if they were online (still a little less common back then), and information about purchase if it was in a print publication, or in her latest chapbook. She is also the poet who got me to thinking about not posting many of my own poems here on the blog. In one of her posts she mentioned that she was running up against more and more submission guidelines which stated that poems published on personal blogs or even workshops would be considered already published. Sadly, I’ve lost track of her, and shamefully, I cannot even recall her name!

And while I know some of you have repeatedly asked for more of my own poems to be posted on the Dad Poet, here’s the deal: I don’t write a poem a day. I admire my many incredible blogger friends, and even a few friends I know in person, who have the gift of doing that, but that’s not me. I write in seasons, sometimes in fits and starts, and while I don’t necessarily revise in the sense of completely re-envisioning the poem (usually), I do cut and edit and refine relentlessly until a poem lets me know that it has had enough of my machinations, or I’ve gone and broken the damn thing by overworking it, and need to backtrack to an earlier, more unpretentious version.

This means that while I probably have a couple hundred submit-able poems, I do not have an inexhaustible supply of them to send out. This is why, despite the beautiful requests of some of you, I do not post many of them here. Yet. Having said that, the Poet page up on the toolbar up there has quite a growing list of poems of mine, including many live and recorded readings, and I know I need to update that list soon. So please feel free to check out some of my own writing there. I appreciate it, and believe me, I cannot wait to start posting some links here to my own words published in other places.

Please do not think that by saying this I mean that publishing a personal poetry blog would be less meaningful or important. I read many of them, and you know who you are. I only mean that it wouldn’t fit ME, or my own personal goals. Perhaps I’m just finally admitting what a narcissists I really am. I’ll post a few of my poems here to get your attention, but I want other people to publish my words. And maybe that’s not so much out of a need for recognition by those editors as it is the knowledge that those journals and e-zines out there can reach a much larger audience than my little blog here on WordPress ever could, and that getting published in those places gives me the chance to write a nice bio when I finally get my own first chapbook published.

I don’t have any delusions about the possibility of ever becoming a household name, but to have something of mine eventually published by a journal that has also published the works of one of my heroes? Yeah, that’s what I want. So I’ve plunged into, as a friend says, the “icy waters” of the submission process. Wish me luck!


25 Comments Add yours

  1. John says:

    (Raising a glass of imaginary Scotch // imaginary because I now only drink in my dreams) Here’s wishing you the best of luck in getting published.

    I’ve noticed that many places have the “even if it’s on a blog, we consider it published” rule. Which, if it were a blog one got paid for, or gave rights of more than just first publication to, then, ok, I can see that. But, on a personal blog, it makes no sense. Maybe they think that on a personal blog you’ve had help (feedback) to make your poem better, whereas someone else might not have let a whole bunch of people read and offer feedback….? Who knows how the poetry publishing establishment works. I have, however, noticed that when one reads the ‘bios’ of poets in most current poetry publications, one sees that the vast majority of them are of an ‘academic” background.

    I know I have a lot of work to do, beginning poet that I am, before I can consider submissions — so, for the moment, I’m not worried about sharing. Knowing that someone read and liked it is inspiring. Maybe once I feel that I’ve reached a better point, I’ll stop posting them — at least until after they’ve been rejected. πŸ™‚

    Hopefully you had a good break, were productive, the leg is better, and that you’re back for awhile!


    1. Oh! Once you decide to do it, and you should eventually, because you have a great ear, a good feel for lines, and a wonderful written tone of voice. You’ve absorbed a lot in your reading years, and it shows. Anyway, as I was saying, once you do decide to submit, keep going even after being rejected, because you will be just like all the rest of us. πŸ™‚ I think that has been my problem before. I was more interested in the writing than the submitting part, and the rejections just were not much fun.

      BUT, I have got a couple things to report, and one clear success so far, so I’ll mention that in the next post or so. It’s odd, but the rejection emails (several already) seem to just make me smile and spur me on all the more. I guess I figure odds are that if I keep tossing the ball, someone will eventually catch it.

      Also I should have mentioned that other reason I was away so long. Thanks for mentioning the leg. The knee injury made it hard to write where I am accustomed, here on my laptop. But with my leg elevated on ice, it was easy to access all my files via Dropbox on the seven inch android tablet, and relentlessly research submission guidelines and find new favorite zines.

      One piece of helpful advice I can pass along is to submit to journals you enjoy reading. Chances are if they are publishing poems that you personally like, your own poems will be a better fit for that outlet than other places. I’ve given up on quite a few posh places, for now. πŸ˜‰


    2. John says:

      Thanks for the advice… and the compliments. I think the reading of so much poetry over the past several months really has helped… much more than I imagined it would.

      As for finding new zines… maybe you should do a post, since you’ve done all this research … a post about different places to find good poetry zines would be nice. I’ve found several …. um… online poetry ‘zines that are full of not-so-good love poems.

      Do you know They have some really good poetry …..


    3. Yes! Linebreak is one of my favorites, and I have some things in mind to send them. I think they have a deadline coming up. If I can ever see my name in Rattle I’ll be happier than a cammel on hump day (stole that from a commercial, but it’s a great line, no?)

      I started at Poets and Writers, but found to be soooo much more helpful. For me at the moment, it’s worth the five bucks a month to help me search out journals that print the kind of poems I am looking for, and sort out deadlines, and submission guidelines, whether or not they accept simultaneous submissions and all of that.

      I think that was one of the factors that turned me off every time I attempted to submit in the last ten years. It seems that EVERY damned journal or e-zine wants it done in a different way. Some want no attachments, but only text in the body of an email (this is a problem for certain formatted poems); some want nothing in the email but a bio, and only read the attachments; others use a service called “submittable,” which I absolutely love; others yet still take only snail mail submissions (but you see fewer and fewer of these).

      I think I may take you up on writing about this stuff in more detail, especially as I catalog my successes and failures. Maybe it will prove helpful and encouraging.

      Speaking of encouragement, what you said about professional bios, and MFA’s and all that. Well, I’ve been doing some reading (as you know) and I’m finding more and more evidence, scraps here and there about the interwebs that there are, if not winds, some refreshing light breezes of change in the air in this regard. One of the articles I was reading just this hour was, in of all places the Poetry Foundation website!


  2. I completely understand your position because that’s where I am right now. If I’m going to consider myself a serious poet, I must submit.

    I closed my poetry blog for the same reason you don’t post poems – they are considered published. However, the last thing I submitted, the rules were ambiguous so I submitted with an email saying the poem had been on my blog but was now removed. They accepted the submission.

    I have had a good success rate when I have submitted, but I haven’t had the nerve to submit to the ‘good’ magazines. Time to gird my loins and go for it, I think. Shall we hold each other’s hands? πŸ™‚

    Good luck!


    1. OH this is perfect, since I just recently read an article about how to recognize the real signs of drowning, which are much quieter than those we see in the movies. Sounds like swimming the buddy system is the way to go! πŸ™‚


    2. Got my armbands right here!

      I have five days to submit a sample collection to Faber New Poets.

      I’ll report back when it’s done.

      How about you?


    3. I’ve got two deadlines coming up in the next 5 days, one with Blast Furnace and another with Episodic. And several more I have set up by the end of the month. I will post in the next day or so a success story or two along with maybe mentioning who sent me rejections. Hey, at least it’s proof I’m submitting, right?


    4. Keep thinking like that πŸ™‚


    5. Since your last reply I received an acceptance that I was half expecting, but still crossing my fingers over. Now that it’s official I’ll post about it. πŸ™‚


    6. Congratulations! That’s great news πŸ˜€


  3. Jane says:

    Without question – good luck πŸ™‚


  4. slpmartin says:

    So wonderful to have you back and to hear about your plans….I am wishing you the very best in your new publication projects…I’m certain they will be successful.


    1. Thank you, good sir! You are one of the gifted folks whose poems I enjoy reading almost daily. Thank you for being there and being so supportive, and so wonderfully you!


  5. kitty says:

    Everyone works at their own pace and in their own way…that is fine..)) k


  6. Joshua James says:

    I go through phases of writing as you well know but it surely is one of those things you can’t push or else you risk ruining it before you have even started. I also think it would be a great crime if you didn’t become a household name, You surely are in any house I will ever live in my friend! x


    1. Wow, you are just too sweet! Thank you, Josh. And yes, it cannot be forced, that’s true. I do like William Stafford’s method, though I don’t apply it enough. He would just sit at his desk and start writing each morning, about whatever came to mind, even if it was his pencil and how it didn’t want to write anything interesting. He was composing a full and finished poem every day about the time that he died.


    2. Joshua James says:

      I think it’s a very personal thing that can be applied only to the person. I know writers who could try that method and have a blank page by the end of the day… But others it would work wonders for. Personally it sometimes works for me but generally I have to choose a subject and think for a couple of days where I want to go with it before putting pen to paper… But then there are the times I scream a poem out the window at a passer by because I can’t find a pen and have that stranger take my number and text it back to me lol because it pops up in my mind so suddenly lol x


    3. I love that image of you screaming a poem and then your number out the window! Yes, the Stafford method has worked for me at times, but maybe that’s because something was already working underneath the surface. Sometimes it takes some prodding and other times I get nothing but staring at a blank screen. My favorite times are when the poem itself starts writing in my head and I’m scrambling to write it. Had some great lines in my mind before bed recently but I didn’t write them down before I fell asleep and now they are lost.


    4. Joshua James says:

      Lost lines, never was there a crueler torture! I know what you mean though. The best poems I have written have starter as a line that popped into my head rather than an idea or anything like that x


    5. The poems that you have to hold onto for dear life as they take you for a joy ride. . .


    6. Joshua James says:

      But they are always worth the bumps and bruises in the end πŸ™‚ x


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