Friday, July 16, 2010

Guest Editorship - What I Learned at Crab Creek Review

My experience as a guest editor at Crab Creek Review taught me many things, not the least of which was: many poets like to write about art. Although the issue with the ekphrastic portfolio isn't due out until October, I am done with the hardest part of my job: choosing poems. Here is what I have learned so far in a very random order:

1. Many poets like to write about visual art. I ended up reading close to 2,000 poems. Never in my craziest dreams did I expect so many submissions. Poetry and painting are considered "sister arts." Clearly this remains true.

2. People across the country and throughout the world submit to Crab Creek Review. I had entries from Zimbabwe and England --- and other countries as well. The internet allows for poets to communicate with each other -- no need for a north / south divide. Access to the internet has revolutionized journals. (Okay, so everyone else has realized this for at least a decade.)

3. Sending an acceptance note is almost as great as receiving one - really. I loved making people happy. Good news from an unknown source is like magic.

4. Editors work really, really hard. I have a new-found appreciation for every person who does this work. There is little  money or fame. Editing a journal is the work of gods -- or goddesses.

5. Only the poem counts. Names and bios meant nothing to me in the selection process. A well-known poet can have an off day. Even Rilke wrote badly. All I wanted were wonderful poems - wherever they came from. One poet is publishing for the first time in the ekphrastic portfolio.

6. Poets are generous and kind. Amazing to me was that many poets wrote to thank me for reading their poems after I let them know we couldn't take their work. This did not happen once, but more than a dozen times. I have never written a thank you for a rejection note. Maybe now I will.

7. Editing isn't a perfect science. I am sure I missed some great poems. I apologize to you in advance if they were yours. I chose thirteen poems out of two thousand. Please forgive me; please take a look at this portfolio in October. It's the best I could do -- and I'm proud of it. But the test comes from you.


  1. Your project sounds wonderful. I look forward to its publication.

  2. Susan-

    It's delightful reading this post because I know for me personally it's easy to lose sight of the fact that there IS a real person/editor on the receiving end of submissions. You illustrate well that submissions do not just travel through the mail to some robot that fires back a rejection letter. And WOW! 2000 submissions! That's a lot of reading to do, and a real testimony to the reputation of both Crab Creek Review and you as a guest editor that it has drawn such interest.

    On another note, THE ALCHEMIST'S KITCHEN arrive in yesterday's mail and I am losing myself in the orchestration of the language. I will have more to say on my blog about it later.

    Meantime, I’m looking for to the next CCR.

  3. Yesterday I wrote my list of "10 things I learned being a poetry editor" for Centrum. Synchronicity. And some overlap. Great list, Susan.

    My verification word is "trout" by the way. Almondine I am thinking.

  4. Thanks for this, and for all the work you did!

    And thanks for reading my poems, along with 1997 others!

  5. Thank you all for such kind comments! I am really excited to see how the portfolio looks when all the images and poems come together. @ Kathleen - thank you so much for sending to us. Please try us again -- usually the odds are not so insane!