Dear Poet Friends,
A couple of days off from the restaurant means work time for the poet. I’ve been reading and researching, preparing for my next bout of submission campaigns. I read a lot. I read constantly, but I haven’t been reading enough current poetry and literary journals. Recently I’ve been trying to fix that. Obviously it’s a tad expensive to subscribe to all the ones I want to, so I fish and find what I can.
Some excellent insight on submitting was given to me by poet Rachel Bunting who said to submit to journals I enjoy reading. Most likely those will be publications whose style more closely matches what I do. Recently Trace Peterson gave the wise advice of hanging out, metaphorically, with poets I like.
And since there are many of you whom I follow and who follow me it seems natural to ask what poetry journals and literary magazines do you like to read? Where do you enjoy submitting and why?
I’ve read some marvelous stuff the last couple of days, and honestly, some depressingly soulless constructions as well. I like both craft and soul, otherwise it’s not art to me. If you’ve read The Dad Poet for long you already get that. But in an apparent effort to eschew over-sentimentality it seems that a lot of contemporary poets have opted for emotional distance and mere cleverness.
I like clever. I do. I love it in fact. But when I read a novel I cannot finish the thing, no matter how masterfully done, if I cannot find characters whom I care about. It’s the same with poetry. If you choose to not show yourself, or any heart or humanity at all in your writing, how can I be interested enough to read to the last line? So many poems I have read in my digging yesterday and today might as well have been Sudoku puzzles, substituting the alphabet for numbers. That’s interesting, but it isn’t poetry to me; it also requires some gut and soul to make a poem. It takes some risk, some balancing, some danger.
I may not go so far as Emily Dickinson who said, “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” I want to keep my head, and I love reading by the fire, well, okay the radiator, but I do like to know there’s hope of being warmed up again after a good shocking read. Seriously though if I don’t gasp, or sigh, or something doesn’t stir my gut, I wonder why the hell I am even bothering to read whatever it is that fails to move me. A cowboy poet I know once called it a punch in the gut with a velvet glove. I want to be hit where it counts, and like it. I am not merely looking to be impressed by your use of a thesaurus or your unfathomable depth of intellect.
Use words masterfully, but put the human in the humanities or find another field to write in. Or at least don’t be surprised if I have no interest in reading more of your work. Harsh? So be it. There is craft and there is soul. Where the two meet we find art. That’s my take.
So how about you? Knowing this, where would you suggest I read and possibly submit my own work? Let me know in the comments, please.
Thanks for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate your input.