Denise R. Weuve

Ink Damage and Other Permanent Stains

Archive for the month “July, 2014”

Submitting Is the Hardest Thing to Do. . .In Poetry!



Let’s face it, it is difficult to decide to submit your work, your poems, your babies out there to a careless, heartless, ruthless editor.  And what is worse is that ugly NO that comes back more often than not.

Here’s the thing, if you don’t let your poems out there into the world, no one will know how great you are, except you, and maybe a few friends.  To be honest, editors are not (normally) careless, heartless, or ruthless.  Most editors are dying for really good work to hit their inbox, and you could be hiding that poem that will rock their world from them.  I cannot begin to fathom how many magazines and journals are out there waiting for work.  Duotrope (great tool, but does cost $50 a year-worth it if you are going to really use it) might be able to help you a bit, or Poets & Writers for that matter, but I can talk about a few places that I think would be kind to you as you start or continue your journey into the publication world.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 6.58.31 PMLet me start with the guy that I hands down think is the nicest EVER, Russell Streur, and his journal The Camel Saloon.  He has guidelines to follow as all of these will have, but he will also write you back quickly whether it is an acceptance or a rejection.  He also, on rare occasion offers information on new journals.  Big bonus he has a great list of other magazine to check out on the web.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 7.02.56 PMIs your writing a bit dark, maybe twisted, or just simply strange.  Carnival Literary Magazine wants YOU and your work.  Currently the editors are Shannon and Jose Miguel.  I find the work on these pages refreshing and risk taking.  Nothing good happens without risk.

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Next up Gutter Eloquence, founded and edited by Jack T. Marlowe.  This is a quarterly magazine ran by a darn good poet.  the work here is relevant, gritty, hard truths with powerful imagery, more often than not.  Send him work (when not on hiatus) that knock the proverbial socks off.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 7.11.07 PMWe all write about heart ache and heart-break, and Napalm and Novocain wants to hear all about it, in fresh imagery and poems that knock the wind out of the reader.  What is great about this press is Amy Huffman actually has several online magazines catering to different styles of poetry and flash fiction.  Write Haikus? There’s a place for you.  Write nature poems?  She’s got that covered too, and so much more.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 7.13.54 PMEunoia Review has a dear place in my heart, because when Kevin says he wants to help the new writer find a place, he means it.  This is the place that first accepted my work, over two years ago.  And Kevin continues to give new writers a place to call home.  Send to him, and he will respond with lightening speed.  Always kind, even when it’s a no.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 7.24.17 PMNice intelligent people, that love poetry, are not as hard to find as you would imagine.  Take for example Ariana Den Bleyker, who genuinely wants to bring new work to the public.  She does so through her press, and this journal, Emerge Literary Journal.  I should disclose that her New York Press, ELJ, is publishing my debut collection in October of this year.  How much more must I say to prove how nice editors can be?


Before you go off and start sending your work out, still make sure you read the magazines, and their guidelines.  The  quickest way to be rejected is to ignore guidelines.  Most (editors) won’t even read your work if you fail to follow those rules set by the magazines.

Happy Poeting Cats and Kittens.



All pictures from said magazine’s Websites

How to Submit Poetry for the Novice & Not So Novice Poets

Poetry is Hard

A lot of sites talk about Writers in a chunk, as though we all fall into the same category.  And we do to an extent, but poets do have a slightly different road to travel.  People do not understand how much time it takes to write a poem, to critique, to revise, to rewrite, to rewrite, to rewrite. Many of us publish a poem knowing it will never be done to our liking, and others publish a poem and keep editing even after its publication.  All this to say, for the purpose of this blog I am only talking to Poets!

When getting ready to submit your work for publication, I would first be sure that there are no grammatical, punctuation or spelling mistake that are not intended for the poem.  If they are there, it gives the editor a bad impression of the writer.  As an editor, I feel like, “they couldn’t even take time to proof-read  the work?”  Then Investigate the magazine and read some (we know you cannot read all) of the work that appears on/in its pages.  I cannot tell you how often I shake my head, when the magazine I edit for, that only takes prose poems, gets regular left aligned poems.  It is a disrespectful move that immediately tells the editor(s) that you not only did not read the magazine but also ignored the guidelines.

poets-corner-colorThe basics of formatting:

  • single spaced
  • spacing between lines indicates a new stanza
  • aligned left
  • if you choose to align differently make it purposeful
  • note odd spacing is difficult for editors if you do choose to use a non traditional align left space with tab bar, it makes life easier for the editor(s)
  • one inch margins (many computers have 1.25″ margin, it is a simple fix)
    • I do not think this is a big deal for editors, but good to know
  • bold title that adheres and adhere to title punctuation
  • do not put title in all caps or italicize, both of those are a publisher’s decision
  • do not include your name on individual poems unless specified by editor(s)

 Cover letter:

Some publishers don’t even want a cover letter, but some do.  If they do, or ask for email submissions, remember to be polite.  Seems like I should not have to say that.  Sadly it does have to be said.  If a publisher or editor asked for a cover letter, please make it more than a list of poems and your name.  Go with a simply friendly interaction that can be customized quickly for all your submitting needs.  Do your research, and mention something on the site that you loved, and why you think you will fit into their aesthetic.

  • Intro – who you are & how you found out about the journal
  • body – something you loved in their journal
  • closing – thank you for taking the time to read your poems (list the poems in order they will see them)

The bio:

  • Never been published before?
    • It is okay.  Make your bio short, and a little quirky.  BUT PLEASE STOP TELLING US that you have been writing since you picked up a pen.  It is not interesting and it does not let us know anything about you.
  • Been published before.
    • That is great, now let’s have some compassion for the editors and the readers, both of which would like to tell you that we do not need to know every place you have been published, and every book that has published you.  A good rule of thumb (that I will admit to breaking on occasion) list 3 journals you have been published in and 2 most recent books, even if you have 8 books.  If you have awards, give them one.  This is your contributors bio, not the bio for your book

Seems like a lot of information, and tomorrow I’ll give you a couple of sites to try, if you are ready to make an attempt at submitting.  All places that were extremely ind to me when I began.

Happy Poeting Cats and Kittens!

The Truth and its Deviations in Poetry~By Joy Von Ill

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 2.02.23 PMToday we have a fabulous article written by Joy Von Ill, who holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.  She is a poet  who lives in Omaha, Nebraska.  A small ambling of her work can be found at Fruita Pulp and the end of this GREAT article.  Her work has appeared in various journals and in An Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraskan Women Poets. She also writes three sentence reviews of books.  Now, on to why you are here, the TRUTH.

What I Know About the Truth and its Deviations in Poems

Someone, or a book maybe, said “write what you know.” I started writing about my life. At some point, I found that catharsis was not enough for me. Art was something I wanted to achieve in my writing. As my education continued I learned a few things that I would like to share.

  1. Writing about your life is dangerous.
    • In the book, Women and Poetry: Truth, Autobiography and the Shape of Self by Carol Muske discusses how while working at a women’s prison teaching writing, she advised her students to write the truth of their lives. One of her students wrote a poem about the prison’s denial of her request to attend her daughter’s funeral. The poem was copied and memorized, passed from woman to woman. Eventually, the woman who wrote the poem was put into solitary confinement for inciting a riot. Enraged by the prison’s response, Muske spoke with the warden, who informed Muske that the prisoner who wrote the poem was not allowed to attend the funeral because it was suspected she played a role in the child’s death. As evidence, the warden showed Muske pictures of the dead child’s beaten body and court documents implicating the prisoner’s involvement. This shows the importance of differentiating between the exact truth, the way things actually occurred, and one’s personal truth. Knowing this can change a reader’s relationship to poems that feel “real.” In the case of the example given by Muske, the prisoner writing her personal truth lead to a breakdown of society inside of the prison. Think twice of the consequences of your personal truth.
    • Eventually, at some point, if you are brave enough, you will be judged. The most recent example of this happened to me in a writer’s group where a woman asked, “Did you really kill your pet bird?” Everyone in the room stared at me. My response was to say “If I answer you will that change how you read the poem?” I have found that drawing the reader’s attention to the poem itself and away from your life will distract them from their judgment, but be prepared.
  2. The significance of your truth will be read differently with time. Robin Skelton, in her book Poetic Truth, states “The facts may remain unchanged, but their significance is continually changing.” How a poem is read is always changed by the perspective of the future. It causes me to consider how future events will change how people read my work about struggles that are common in life. Consider how you view a poem about the holocaust now as opposed to someone who would have read it in 1950. There is no way to guarantee readers can connect to your poem in future, but thinking about this view can bring extra depth to your work.
  1. There are different opinions on the artistic nature of the truth.
    • Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 2.11.13 PMIn an interview I did with Fran Higgins she discussed her views on using factual events in her writing. In her poem, “Fanam’s Car Repair & Tow”, which appears in An Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets, she changed or made up details about the garage because she could not remember particulars that would make the poem more impactful. She expressed a sense of falseness about the title, but in this case the title gives the reader a more complete mental image, making the emotional effect of the poem more tangible. As a writer, Higgins tries to be as truthful as possible. She even went so far as to state, “If I am not being true to myself in a poem then I’m not communicating accurately.” Her view of those who change details in their writing was expressed when she said, “Some people are shit poets and don’t communicate. People skirt around the truth because they are afraid of it.” While I respect this point of view, there is more to an experience and a moment than the facts. There are reasons to change events that can heighten the experience of the reader.
    •  In The Triggering Town, Richard Hugo discusses his poem, “The Squatter on Company Land.” In the poem he describes the event of a squatter trying to claim space owned by the airplane manufacturer Hugo worked for. Hugo didn’t know why the company wanted the land the squatter resided on, but cited a “hammer shop” in the poem because “The rhythm seemed to ask for it.” Also, the squatter owned many rabbits, as confirmed by one of the men who worked at evicting the squatter, but it was not a thousand. The hyperbole of the amount of rabbits makes sense to the reader, imagining the squatter as someone who was apart from main stream society. One of the reasons people read poetry is for prosody and the reader’s ability to relate to human experience. These goals are achievable by changing how we as writers report our experiences.
    • There is a deeper goal in poetry than explaining a narrative. In an interview I had with Cat Dixon she discussed T.S. Eliot’s phrase “objective correlative” (from the essay “Hamlet and His Problems”) which translates to using images or events to portray an emotion in literature. There are times when Dixon’s emotions tied to a particular event are more intense than the event would allow her reader to feel when it is expressed in poetry. She then expands the image, changing the even to evoke the emotions she felt in the moment. An example of this would be in her poem, “River”, which appears in An Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets . In the poem Dixon describes being drunk at the shore of the polluted Missouri River. Dixon said that in reality, she did sit by the Missouri River when it was polluted, but she did not go in. She considered going in, but refrained from doing so. Her emotions at the time were powerful and destructive, and she wanted the images to match the intensity of her emotions. Using this technique can create work that has the highest possible amount of impact on the reader.
    •  Changing the events can change the point of view of the poem. In The Art of Attention by Donald Revell, he writes, “How do you go about erasing yourself, how dispose of such a perilous and long-beloved forebear? Look up. Look out.” By removing one’s self from the experience being discussed, a new image and emotion can become apparent. He cites an excerpt from his poem “Heat Lightning,” where he describes his existence in the world. “Next door, in bright sun, a girl on stilts/ is so fabulously illuminated/ she blends into the light below her legs.” By shifting the focus from the “we” previously mentioned in the poem, the reader is able to see a new perspective, the writer’s “saint” and perceived salvation, is that of the girl on stilts. Revell shows an external experience outside of an interaction with a girl on stilts while he is in his office writing. External events can imply what happens internally, and have just as much effect on the reader, as the reader experiences their own emotions about the event.

As you have read, there are multiple ways this information can be applied to your writing life. Each poem that is written about a real life experience drives toward a different level of truth. Some poems can run purely on the universal truth of human experience while others require the structure of the true, factual, real life event to be an effective poem for the general reader. Be cognizant of the needs of the poem. The effects of the experience and personal truth is the best way to create an impactful poem. Be aware of the power of truth, and the power deviation from the truth holds. It can change how you write and ultimately how you connect with the reader.


To see poems by Joy Von Ill, you can visit Fruita Pulp and So to Speak Journal


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