I will be joined in writing this blog by my wife, Marsha, who brings to the table her lifelong passion for social justice through universal literacy and has co-authored books and articles on the teaching of reading. She and her co-author and lifelong friend, Professor Mary Hoover of Howard University and previously of the University of Pennsylvania, traveled the country demonstrating how poor children and young adults can be empowered by literacy. In the summer of 2015 she retired as director of the Fabian Learning Clinic in the Lamorinda area of Northern California. For thirty years she and her staff (miracle workers all) had enriched the lives of students from kindergarten through college level.
During those adventures I acted as “resident editor” during the crunch of many late-night-into-early-morning deadlines. Marsha’s books and flashcards needed layout, proofreading and etymology-checking.
When I began writing poetry, we quite naturally began working together again, at first trying to figure out how to find homes for individual poems in the world of literary journals, and, this year, learning how to first create a manuscript from a folder full of poems and then get the attention of a publisher.
At times it was bewildering, hard work…
and sometimes it was a blast.
We began with no idea how to go about publishing even a single poem. It has been On-the-Job-Training all the way. We knew people who would have been happy to help, but we didn’t know the right questions to ask them. We hope some of what we write and link to in this blog will be helpful to poets just starting out — people who, like me, love words but did not come out of college with skills and networks geared toward a writing career. Here we plan to offer some useful tips and tools, help you avoid some of the mistakes we made, and introduce you to the world of small poetry presses that we only recently discovered.
We are writing for all those with a passion for poetry—those who, along with the small poetry presses, keep poetry a living and growing part of our culture.
— Jeremy & Marsha
I see that your website is progressing nicely. Given the restrictions that you find for publishing elsewhere, how do you decide what you will publish here? If your poem has been published elsewhere, are you even allowed to show it here?
Will, usually a journal gets “first serial rights.” That means you can’t authorize anyone else to publish it until they do. After they publish it, you get to do what you want with it, usually with an agreement that if you post it or offer it to another publisher, the first publisher will always be mentioned. (That last part is sometimes formal and sometimes a gentleman’s agreement.) If you look at the “Poems” page on my site, you’ll see there’s a citation for each poem that appeared in print before it appeared in my book.
My poem, “The Nietzsche Contrapositive,” won first place in the Grey Sparrow Journal‘s 2014 Flash and Poetry Competition. I agreed not to publish it anywhere else for a year, but they made an exception for its appearance in the book. I still don’t know if that is typical in contests.
I’ll be putting only a few poems online, occasionally changing them, but never posting a poem that has not yet been published. Posting an upublished poem would make it ineligible for publication in a literary journal, as I explain in my blog.
Does that cover it?