Sending Poems into the World ~ Where Exactly?

Last night I sent two packets of poems into the world. I spent far too much time trying to figure out where the poems might be happiest; which journal would provide a good home? It's humbling to admit, but I have been sending poems out into the world for almost twenty years. My first acceptance was for a poem called "Afternoon Swim" and it was accepted by Spare Rib - a London based second-wave feminist  journal. I still have the check for two and a half pounds sterling taped in an old journal. Wow.  I so believed that the acceptance phone call (!) would change everything. I was in print; I was accepted!  Little did I know ...

Today I have several strategies for sending work out into the world. I try for states (or countries) where I have not been published before; I send to magazines that have been kind to my work in the past, and I try again with an editor whom I still think might like my work eventually ....Last night I chose to send to Poet Lore because it is an impressive journal that has been kind to my work several times in the past and also to The Georgia Review because I admire the work published there. I send out new work when I really should be writing or making dinner. It is a favorite procrastination tool. I actually love the anonymous sense that my work arrives without a fancy outfit or calling card; it is what it is. Either the poem will please the editor or it won't. Yet, I know it isn't always that simple. How do other poets and writers decide where to send their work? Do you have a system? A certain inclination you follow?


  1. Susan, I loved learning that you saved your first royalty check! I've saved the check from my first published poem, too - from Berkeley's Americas Review in the amount of $10. My friend Angela framed it in red velvet for me nearly 18 years ago... I don't have any thoughts for you on where to submit poems, as I haven't done it myself in quite some time. Do you have a favorite directory that lists places to publish, both print and online? I need to start thinking about this again...

  2. Susan, I, too, had that rush of optimism when my first poem appeared in print (Natural Bridge, 10 years ago). I'd been sending work out into the world for four years before the first poem found a home. I thought I was set. "Little did I know..." is exactly right!

    I admit to being a furious simultaneous submitter, although I've lessened the number of journals a single batch of poems might go to as my work has matured and been accepted more frequently. Whenever I read a book of poems, I check out the acknowledgments page for new journals to research (god bless the internet, which makes this MUCH easier than it was 15 years ago). I've been building a database for a decade and it constantly surprises me that there seems to be a never ending supply of journals I've never heard of, but that publish great work. I love your state game and may just plot out where I've succeeded and which states need to come into play. Thanks!

  3. I have to say that I've become addicted to Duotrope Digest--the random magazines they have on their home have taught me so much about journals I'm sure I would have never know about so quickly. It's easy to go the website and at least look through a table of contents of many of the journals.
    I love reading how other people send their stuff out.

  4. Thanks, Carol - Duotrope is new to me. A little overwhelming, but I will look again. The site Read, Write, Poem also has a good listing of journals ...


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