Editor Interview: Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry

This interview is provided for archival purposes. The listing is not currently active.

Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.

A: Poetry, essays & reviews

Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?

A: Blackbird, Valparaiso Review, Verse Daily, Poetry Daily, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Coconut, No Tell Motel, Fence, Tin House, Calyx, Poetry International, Pleiades, Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry, Umbrella Journal, Crab Creek Review, 42Opus, qarrtsiluni

Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?

A: Bob Hicok, Denise Duhamel, Beth Ann Fennelly, Tony Barnstone, Eloise Klein Healy, Major Jackson, Ching-In Chen, Richard Garcia, Sherman Alexie, Marilyn L. Taylor, Annie Finch, Patricia Fargnoli, Charles Harper Webb, Deborah Bogen, Molly Bendall, Eileen Tabios

Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?

A: Each issue is focused on a specific kind of poetry, rather than a hodge-podge or an arbitrary theme. We have published issues on poems of place, ekphrastic poems, the prose poem, poems in form, the persona poem, gender, humor and collaborative poetry. Within each issue we strive to feature a broad range of styles, incarnations, and interpretations, because, as Forrest Gander states, "Like species, poems are not invented, but develop out of a kind of discourse, each poet tensed against another's poetics, in conversation." In keeping with this we invite process statements from our contributors that speak to their own poetics and process so that others may benefit from their experience. In addition to poetry we also feature relevant interviews, essays, and book reviews pertaining to the issue's focus.

Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

A: Please read our guidelines carefully and submit only what we are currently looking for, and read past issues so that you can become familiar with the range and quality of the work that we publish.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Our ideal submission would consist of one Word or RTF document that is titled using the author's name, last name first (Example: "Stevens, Wallace") and uploaded via our online submissions system. It would contain: 1.) A very brief cover letter stating the author's name, the names of the works submitted, and a brief biographical statement; AND 2.) No more than five poems, one essay, or one interview. PLUS A *blank* e-mail (meaning no content in the body of the message) with the author's name in the subject line (Example: "Submission: Wallace Stevens") sent to our editor e-mail address. The work that is submitted via our online submissions system goes into a drop box on the website and is filed by name/date. Having the blank email acts as a method of cross-referencing and speeds the notification process after selections have been made.

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: Most of our routine submitters know the system now, but the most common (and frustrating) mistake is that often dozens of submissions are titled "poemeleon submission." Also, if a submitter forgets to send the required blank e-mail it is likely that their submission will get lost. Or, conversely, if a submitter sends the work directly through e-mail as an attachment without regard to our established systems that submission will likely get lost as well. So please -- if you want your work read, follow our instructions!

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?

A: We do ask for a cover letter, though omitting one is certainly better than sending us an autobiography. We need to know very little about the submitter. All we want to know is that they know who they are submitting to.

Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?

A: For poetry, often it's within the first few lines. If it's trite, overwrought, overly sentimental, cliche-ridden, redundant, etc., or if there are obvious typos, then we set it aside. Or if the submitter clearly did not read our guidelines (for instance, if they sent us nothing but sonnets when were looking for prose poems) we don't read it all.

Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?

A: All of the submissions are read by the editorial staff, and comments on the most promising pieces are made. When we're done I gather all of these together and make a final list. Then if the list is long I will make further cuts and then run that list by the rest of the staff. If there is any work left off that they felt should have been kept I will add it back on. I do think that if any one of us feels strongly about a work we should include it. At that point the list is finalized and acceptances go out.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: After the submissions deadline has come and gone links to all of the works are posted to a secure page on the site and read by the editorial staff. Because our staff is far-flung (though three of us live in Southern California, one of us lives in Kentucky, and the other in Norway) getting together is impossible, so our system is designed so that we can each access it at a time that is convenient to us. We comment on the work in a journal-style format, making note of the most promising pieces, or leaving notes for the others to flag work that might be inappropriate or that doesn't open properly (i.e., if it's submitted in a format that we don't support; remember .doc and .rtf ONLY). Usually we agree on the core of the list, with one or the other of us championing certain pieces that we like best. Once the list is finalized I send out all of the acceptances using the blank e-mails that were sent as part of the submission process. After, the rejections are sent. This process can take several weeks or even a couple of months, depending upon our individual schedules and other obligations. The notifications process is also time-consuming. I used to insist on writing personalized notices for everyone but with an increasing number of submissions and other demands on my time it just isn't possible anymore.

Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?

A: It is absolutely *imperative* that we embrace these new technologies. While I have a very distinct nostalgia for typewriters, books, letterpress printing, etc., there is no going back so to shun obviously useful tools would be put one's publication at a disadvantage. Electronic submissions saves time, paper, and energy, and the internet can disseminate information faster than my ten-year-old on a sugar rush. While social networking sites like Facebook certainly have their drawbacks, I have found no easier or cheaper way to send an invitation to a thousand people.