Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Publishing Poetry

First off, big congratulations to fellow HappenStance poet, Matt Merritt, whose manuscript has been accepted by Arrowhead Press and will become a full-length collection in 2008. Matt’s poems are wonderfully observed and always have impact at a deep human level. It’s terrific news and well deserved.

My own manuscript is still crawling its way towards the outside world. I still haven’t sent it to any publishers, but I’m convinced now that it’s far stronger than it was a few months ago. I’ve added poems, revised a few that hadn’t quite hit the mark before, and chucked out a fair number. Thanks are due to Andrew Philip and AB Jackson for their perceptive comments on my earlier draft. Most publishers don’t want to receive a full manuscript at first – only a selection from it, the exact number of poems depending on their submission guidelines – so I’m going to have to give serious thought to which poems are the strongest. Sometimes my favourites aren’t the best ones. I'm also thinking about how to 'sell' it - how it hangs together, whether it's sufficiently distinctive (if not, there's no point in its existence).

I’ve also been printing off my favourite unpublished poems from my MS with a view to sending them to journals. I haven’t submitted a huge number of poems in the last six months or so, so I have a lot of unpublished material. The trouble now is deciding which magazines to submit to. I am making a list of potential magazines, but choosing the right poems for each magazine is really hard. My golden rule is to send only to publications I like or to publications someone I trust has recommended. That, at least, cuts down my options considerably!

I confess that I’m wary of many Internet zines. Not all of them – some are very good. But others seem to me to publish a kind of “McPoem” – worthy, decently crafted, and entirely dull – and an acceptance from any of them would be more worrying than anything else. Hmmmm, perhaps I’m being too harsh. Probably.


Julie Carter said...

Sounds like you have something to talk about in your anti- statement if you submit to Anti-. :D

Matt Merritt said...

Thanks very much for the plug and kind comments, Rob.
One thing I definitely wouldn't worry about, if I were you, is whether the MS is sufficiently distinctive, because I think your poems are always just that. They're very open to all kinds of disparate influences, but give a sense of an individual intelligence behind them. I know a lot of poets (or their publishers) nowadays make a lot of noise about taking an eclectic, open approach, but in practice I think it's still actually pretty rare.