"I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance." --Wesley Snipes

Thursday, January 24, 2008

welcome to post 1501

Yep, 1501 posts. I feel like I should celebrate. Or should have celebrated yesterday.

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I'm full of static electricity this week. I can't touch a doorknob without shocking myself. What does this mean?

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Song in my head that won't go away: Uncle Tupelo's "Looking For A Way Out."

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It's almost in the can. Chap. ms #2, that is. I have 31 completed poems in various states of revision, and plans to add a few more in the next few--days, weeks? I don't quite yet have the timeline. Then, I'll sit down with myself or a kind editor and cull the top 27. Then "Chinese Takeout Poems" or whatever it is I decide to call it will be ready.

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In other news, soon, soon, Fewer & Further will be soon publishing Asterisk #4 featuring poems by yours truly, poems from the above-mentioned sequence in a very limited edition. If you want one, ask Jess. Or me.

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If you want to send my dog email, you should. His address is charlie.kaplan.dog@gmail.com. He promises to respond to all messages.

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I would like to talk to some folks regarding poetry manuscripts, submissions, contests, etc. As many of you know, I've had semi-success with my two completed manuscripts, each making it to finalist and semi-finalist rounds in various contests. While the contest system is flawed and well, troubling to me, in a lot of ways, you all know the drill--it seems that it's one of the only ways to get one's work out there. (I can hear Joe Massey cursing at me under his breath--or not under his breath--shouting at me through his monitor). In any case, I haven't submitted any manuscript anywhere this year and really don't have plans to. Am I hurting myself here? The folks I know, or many of the folks I know garner a lot of acceptances through a sort of carpet bombing tactic--sending out dozens or even hundreds of submissions at a time. I have neither the postage, the free time, or the chutzpah (not to mention the poems) to pull off such a stunt, nor do I want to. But then I wonder about contests. How many manuscripts do you send to how many contests each year? Seriously. There has got to be a reason why certain contemporary poets keep winning every damn contest (or so it seems) and I'm pretty certain it can't just be the poetry.

So here's me. In the past 4 or 5 years I have submitted to 3-7 contests each year. I've gotten the "close but no cigar" notice, I think, at least once each year. One year, I think I was a semi-finalist in 2 or 3 contests to which I submitted. And that's pretty much it. Would I submit my mss. to more places if there weren't a "contest fee" attached? Well, sure. But I just can't see myself doing that. How many mss. does, oh, say, Josh Corey, send out each year?

As for regular submissions of poems to magazines and journals, and so forth, I haven't sent an unsolicited submission or a submission to an editor I didn't already know in well over 2 years. Maybe 3...

I'm wondering if it's time to get back into "the game," so to speak. Or whether I should find a new way to work. Or maybe I should just go back into hibernation.

Thoughts?

2 comments:

jeannine said...

Tony, you probably already know this, but book publishers with "Open Submissions" policies are a good idea for first books, especially the ones that don't charge fees. Even Norton's takes queries (I mean, I never heard back, but it can't hurt to try, right?) without charging a fee. Anyway, don't get discouraged - your book will find its way to the right editors soon...

January said...

Hi. I came over from Jilly's blog.

I'm with Jeannine, I would look for publishers with open submission periods—no fees. I never went the contest route. I HATE the contest system, which seems more like a lottery these days.

Graywolf asks for 10 poems, and if they like your work they'll request the full manuscript. I went through CavanKerry's open period and they’re publishing my first book next year.

Also, not sure if you went to the AWP Conference last month, but I was surprised by the number of independent presses publishing poetry and fiction.

I bet you’ll find a home for your work if you change your strategy a bit.