STEP II: SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS — BREAKING MY OWN RULE
CHECK TO SEE IF SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS ARE ALLOWED
A Journal’s “Guidelines/Submit” page tells you whether the editors will accept simultaneous submissions. In other words, will they consider poems you are also submitting to other journals? The submission guidelines might state simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us immediately if the work we are considering has been accepted elsewhere. Or the guidelines might read we do not consider simultaneous submissions, i.e. work that is being considered elsewhere.
PREVIOUS STRATEGY –– NEVER SUBMIT POEMS UNLESS SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS ARE ALLOWED
It’s important to know whether simultaneous submissions are allowed because any poems you submit will be tied up until you’re informed of the journal’s decision—and that may be quite a long time. Poets differ in their view of “no simultaneous submissions.” It’s up to you to figure out just how patient you are and whether you have a large enough body of work to be comfortable with some of your poems being out of circulation while being considered by a single journal. Luckily, most literary publications (other than some of the most prestigious journals) do accept simultaneous submissions.
A year ago Jeremy wrote, “I never submit to journals that do not accept simultaneous submissions,” and this is still generally true. He has faithfully followed this strategy since he began seriously submitting poems to journals about two years ago. However last May, Jeremy submitted five poems to a journal that does not allow simultaneous submissions.
OUR NEW STRATEGY –– ON RARE OCCASIONS, SUBMIT EVEN IF NO SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS ARE ALLOWED
Why did he break his own rule? Well, he has a number of poems that revolve around metaphors drawn from the natural world that reflect our own human nature; some of them describe how human activity affects the natural environment. That may not sound unusual, but the style of the poems made them difficult to place. Then last May, after reading at open mic, Jeremy asked the featured reader which journals she would suggest for his poems about nature. She suggested ISLE. When he got home that night he went to the ISLE website and discovered that the journal’s full title is ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment, in conjunction with Oxford University Press.
He explored the website and learned that ISLE does not accept simultaneous submissions. However, the name of the journal was enticing, so he just had to read the Table of Contents and the poetry in recent back issues. That’s how he found out that ISLE comes out quarterly, publishes peer reviewed scholarly papers from around the world on environmental topics, and usually showcases only one or two poets per issue. If there had been any lingering hope, that settled it. The odds were too heavily stacked against him. However, the journal was incredibly interesting, so Jeremy read the “About” page:
ISLE, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment seeks to explore the relation between human beings and the natural world, and publishes articles from literary scholars, environmental historians, specialists in the visual and performing arts, environmental philosophers, geographers, economists, ecologists, and scholars in other fields relevant to “literature and environment.”
The journal’s scope encompasses environmental thinking and expression from cultures around the world; theoretical work and applications to specific authors and texts from any time period; and treatment of pressing ecological issues as they pertain to literature. The journal also publishes poetry, fiction, and literary nonfiction relevant to its thematic focus.
These editors publish articles and literature that explore the relationship between human beings and the natural world, are deeply concerned about the worldwide environmental crisis, and are dedicated to strengthening the connection between literature and the sciences. That was irresistible, and Jeremy was hooked. The very next day (May 9th), he broke his “no simultaneous submissions rule” and submitted five poems to ISLE.
In late October, he was notified his five-poem manuscript was back from ISLE’s reviewer and was awaiting the Editor in Chief’s final decision. Then in mid-November, Jeremy nervously opened an email from the Editor in Chief and read these magical words, “It is my pleasure to accept your manuscript entitled ‘Five poems’ in its current state for publication in ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment” !!!
So it looks as if the original strategy wasn’t really a rule — it was just a guideline.
We’ll end with a poem Jeremy wrote in 2013 after six months of writer’s block.
There will be no crop this year
the unused earth will do whatever it wants
it will grow what the wind blows, the birds drop
and the shaggy creatures shake from their coats
it will pool in the rain and bake in the sun
the birds, the insects and the wind
will complete the flowers’ lovemaking
and the grasses
if left friendless by the mower
will spread themselves, out of our sight,
to rise elsewhere in tall green crowds
where none are lonely.
from Wisteria from Seed by Jeremy Cantor (Kelsay Books, 2015)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
until next time,
Marsha and Jeremy