From First Poem to First Book: Where to Submit your Poems — 1000 journals that don’t want your money

Library at Alexandria

above: The Library at Alexandria



Once I got past my The New Yorker phase, I went looking for online lists of literary journals that would be more likely to accept my work.  The first list I worked with was the one that Professor Emeritus Louie Clay (née Louie Crew) created and still maintains.  It’s the longest I know of — as of this writing 1,048 titles long!  He calls it Poetry Publishers Willing to Receive Submissions Electronically, affectionately referred to in our house as “the Rutgers list.”  A link to it is right here.  When Professor Clay started his list in 1996, it was far from common practice for publishers to accept online submissions—my first submissions to journals were by snailmail.  But by now online submission is nearly universal practice.

Above, I said I was lucky enough not to run into any scams. The Rutgers list was a lucky find not only because of its thoroughness, but also because it served as a scam filter, even though I did not know that was important at the time, so after I found it I needed a little less luck.  One of his criteria for being included in the list is that a journal “require no submission/reading fees” and “require no purchases and provide at least one free copy to the author.”

Unfortunately, I must add that with decreasing public support for the arts, for both economic and political reasons, small submission fees — say, $3 — at reputable journals are becoming more common.  But Mr. Crew, respectful of writers, is still adamant about it.  Here he explains why.  (I’m not talking about contests that offer cash prizes, with their usual entry fees.  That’s another matter.)

The Rutgers list was a good starting place.  I still refer to it now and then.

Next, I needed criteria for screening candidate journals — my indiscriminate scatter-shot approach was wasting both my own time and editors’ time, as well as risking the placement of my poems where I might later wish they weren’t.   I will try to steer you clear of the many blind-alleys I have traveled up and provide you with the map I wish I’d had at the outset.


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