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Old 04-02-2002, 09:11 AM
ginger ginger is offline
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After reading your response to Tim Murphy's question regarding the health and history of Eratosphere, I wanted to extend my sincere thanks to you for your work here. I wandered into the free verse forums about a year ago in search of heavier critique than I'd found elsewhere. I was only vaguely aware of this thing called formalism in contemporary poetry. The work that I saw happening in the metrical forums prompted me to attempt my first formal poem. A few months ago, I transformed a really terrible free verse piece into a sonnet that's been received with almost universal enthusiasm by everyone who's seen it, including people who are as unfamiliar with formalism as I was a year ago. Having grown up believing free verse equals freedom equals better art, I was shocked to discover that a sonnet could more accurately convey what was on my mind than free verse.

I'm currently writing at a rate of three poems per week for a workshop I'm taking at school. Without exception my formal poems, even in their first drafts, have accomplished their objectives far better than any free verse I've tried. Having got the rhythms in my head, I'm even beginning to daydream metrically. I'm not sure I would have discovered this about my own writing if not for Eratosphere, so a hearty, heart-felt thanks is in order!

A couple of people have said that I should publish that sonnet. I think I've still got a lot to learn before I go there, but when the time arrives, how does one get started?

At Alan's suggestion, and with his help, I've signed up for the Westchester conference. I sort of said, "That sounds great!" before I knew much about it and now, having read around about it, I'm really intimidated. I'm just trying to breathe deeply and remember how much I've learned in the past by getting in over my head. Any advice for a true beginner on what to expect and how to make the most of the experience?

Ginger Sicari

[This message has been edited by ginger (edited April 02, 2002).]
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Old 04-02-2002, 12:44 PM
Michael Juster Michael Juster is offline
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Ginger: First, thanks for all the positive feedback about Erato. We are only truly successful if we expand the base of people interested in formal poetry, so converts like you are a mark of success.
Your first submission is always daunting, but if the people whose opinion you respect think you should try it, you should go for it--if only because it is part of raising the bar on yourself as a writer so you write better stuff.
First, do careful research about where to submit. Poets & Writers is helpful, if initially overwhelming, as a place to start. After you have a prospect list, check out as many of the journals as you can. Libraries and some bookstores carry many of them, and most journals will let you buy one copy as a sample. For formal poetry, The Formalist and The Hudson review are probably too competitive for your first few submissions, but I would look hard at The Lyric as a place to start--it publishes superb work by people like Rhina Espaillat, Deborah Warren and Tom Riley on a regular basis, but it also publishes a ton of newcomers. Look also at the subject matter of your piece and think about journals that only publish on that subject--it's much less competitive. I've published health-related poems a couple times in the Journal of the American Medical Association (circulation of 360,000 compared to something closer to 360 for the typical literary journal). I also did an accounting journal once. Len Krisak did a volleyball newsletter. Theme issues, which are sometimes hard to find out about, are also often less competitive.
Professionalism counts. A brief, polite, neatly typed cover letter is important, and always send a self addressed stamped envelope. Many journals do not accept in the summer--Poets & Writers can help you with that. Never hassle an editor about a delay or a rejection--running a magazine is tough and they face an avalanche of mail each day.
Best of luck! We'll look for you in "The Accomplished Members"!
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Old 04-02-2002, 04:07 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Ginger, Poets and Writers is a great place to look; it's updated each issue and you can access its classifieds online. I think Poet's Market is indispensable; it also updates markets online. Michael Bugeja's Poet's Guide: How to Publish and Perform Your Work (Story Line Press) gave me tips early on, especially for composing cover letters. Good luck, and I hope to see you at the conference!

Cheers,

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Ralph
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Old 04-02-2002, 05:23 PM
Michael Juster Michael Juster is offline
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Ginger: I'm glad Ralph jumped on--I wrote Poets & Writers (which is a useful magazine), but I meant Poets Market, which is a book put out annually around Labor Day and available from major chains. Sorry about my sleep-deprived confusion, and thank again to my friend Ralph (RCL)!
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Old 04-07-2002, 12:56 AM
ginger ginger is offline
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My thanks to both of your for help vanished in the move, so here it is once more: Thank you!

Two more questions for anyone who's up to answering.

1) With wait times often months long, and the fact that some editors don't accept simultaneous submissions, how do you decide where to send your work? Do you generally expect significant lag time between finishing a piece and seeing it published?

2) Is there any particularly good place to find young, urban formalists? My own formal poems have utterly failed with my slam-oriented classmates, and I'm afraid some of my subjects, though well-received here, might not go over well with more conservative editors. I'm aware of Kim Addonizio's work (and have signed up for her workshop), but is there anyone else? Any journals oriented in that direction?

Thanks.

Ginger
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Old 04-07-2002, 05:56 AM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Ginger, check out The New Formalist, Edge City Review, and Susquehanna Review--all online. Rattapallax also serves generous helpings of formal. Pivot is dedicated to formal--go to Expansive Poetry and Music, online, for info. Also Light Magazine, which has a website. Lag times? Pivot took five of mine in one day; it's been eight months since I submitted to Edge City, five to Susquehanna, ten to Edge City, seven to Light. Over two years for a pair at Sewanee Review--which I withdrew after the last request for revisions. Do the research Mike suggests, send 'em out and forget 'em (the fatalistic Sicilian says).

Good luck,

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Ralph
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Old 04-07-2002, 09:28 AM
Michael Juster Michael Juster is offline
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Good questions:

1) I did a terrible job deciding where to send stuff for a while, but you start to develop a sense of these journals over time, and I read a lot of them at least quickly to try to figure out editorial tics and interests in addition to what I pick up from word of mouth, Poets & Writers, and Poets' Market. I keep out on the lookout for theme issues because the numbers have to work in your favor if you have a thematically appropriate poem. Although it didn't actually work for me for a while, I believed in the hypothesis and it is starting to bear fruit. Michigan Quarterly is a tough credit, and I don't think they would have accepted one of my Stefanile sonnets except that it is called "Confronting The Jew" and they are doing a fall issue on "The Jewish Experience In America".
I usually send my best stuff out to the most competitive 6-8 magazines first and wait for the inevitable rejection letters. I look at it like playing the lottery, but even I have gotten lucky once and I've been waiting for The Paris Review to publish a sonnet they accepted a few years back. I usually then send a poem around to journals that have been supportive of me in the past. If they don't want it, then I think seriously whether I should kill the piece, but occasionally I'll try some other journals on an intuition. By the way, never simultaneously submit to journals that have been good to you, even if they say you can. For others, well, we don't live forever and we would have to in order to get published if we waited 4-6 months for each rejection before sending it out again.
Ralph is right on. Some other places to think about are Barrow Street, South Carolina Review, Orbis, and Carolina Quarterly. These are tough credits, but a significant minority of their work is formal. Two very formal-friendly journals that have small circulations (200?) but are nicely done, occasionally sport fancy names, and yet are almost always overlooked here are Slant and Nebo. They're both affiliated with Arkansas colleges (c'mon--no cultural snobbism!) and they won't be scared off by offbeat content. My one Slant publication was entitled "On Remembering That Your Funeral Was Today"!

2) Two suggestions. Check out the Expansive Poetry website. Arthur Mortensen is a force in formalism, editing this site and Pivot as well as publishing chapbooks under the Somers Rock Press line. They're very tough on some fellow formalists (I say this gulping because they have postponed a review of my Longing For Laura several times), but they are New York based and seem to spin off short-lived formalist group and reading series from time to time.
The other thing is to pick up on a suggestion I made before my hiatus and try to get something going yourself. The New York area should be one of the easiest, and "nyctom" was thinking of it anyway. Start small--maybe just get together first for pizza and not try anything ambitious. I'm going to post a notice on General Announcements and see if anyone else is interested.
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