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Editor Interview: tinywords: a journal of micropoetry

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

A: Haiku and micropoetry

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

A: Roadrunner, Frogpond, Heron's Nest, Simply Haiku, Failbetter

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

A: Basho, Buson, Issa, Shiki, Gary Snyder, Richard Wright, Marlene Mountain, Jane Reichhold, Norbert Blei, Ed Markowski, Mike Farley, Aurora Antonovic, Martin Gottlieb Cohen, An'ya, Deborah Kolodji

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

A: tinywords is unique in that it publishes just one tiny poem per day, on the web and via e-mail, SMS and Twitter, making it one of the world's smallest magazines. It is the largest-circulation haiku publication in English, with more than 3,000 subscribers.
In terms of editorial approach, tinywords eschews literary theory in favor of poems that speak directly to immediate, lived experience with simple, elegant, non-stilted language.

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

A: Write the best haiku or micropoems you can. Use natural language and avoid stilted, "literary" styles. Don't worry about writing 5-7-5 syllable haiku -- the spirit is more important than the syllable count. Read a lot of haiku. Read books about haiku by William Higginson, Lee Gurga and others.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Short, surprising, beautiful, breathtaking.

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

A: 1. Submitters often try to submit more than the stated limit, and/or cram multiple poems into a single form. We have a web form for submissions - please use it, and please reload the form for each separate submission.

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

A: Cover letters: n/a. We read submissions via a form on our website, which doesn't have room for cover letters or bio. (Besides, we read submissions blind, so we wouldn't see that information anyway). Do list previous publications for the specific poem you're submitting, however.

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

A: We read every submission to tinywords at least once (often more times, since there are multiple editors reviewing each submission).

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

A: We strongly prefer work that has not been previously published, so all other things being equal, we'll tend to pass over work that's been published before. By "published" I mean "has appeared in a print or online journal" -- appearance on a personal blog or online workshop is no impediment.

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

A: Submissions appear, without bylines, on a page where I and the other editors of tinywords can read and vote on them. After the submissions period has closed, we sort all the submissions in order of how many editors' votes they've received. At that point we start discussing which of the top-ranked poems we'd like to publish, and whether there are any outliers (those that didn't receive many votes) that we should consider. Discussion happens via e-mail and usually wraps up fairly quickly. We'll generally accept about the top 10% of submissions: For the past few issues, I've received several hundred submissions for issues that have featured 30-50 poems.

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

A: Electronic submissions are essential to the viability of tinywords -- without this submissions process we'd be unable to review poems "blind" (without regard to the author's name) and we'd also be quickly overwhelmed by the quantity of incoming submissions. For us, at least, electronic submissions are critical.
Unfortunately that does mean that poets don't usually receive individual responses or critiques of their works -- in most cases, a form letter is how we'll let you know of a rejection. It's an unfortunate but unavoidable side effect of dealing with such a large number of submissions.