Sunday, September 22, 2019

Tobi Alfier - Aesthetics

Aesthetics: a particular individual’s set of ideas about style and taste, along with its expression

Every journal that we read, love, submit to today, whether it’s online or print, has an Editor in charge. In addition to many other responsibilities, Editors are responsible for maintaining the aesthetics of their journal. Their name is on it. If they have staff, everyone needs to be on-board so issue after issue has a semblance of consistency.

That consistency is something you can rely on as a submitting writer. Nobody’s going to play “bait and switch” with that aesthetic. You need to know what it is before you start submitting, or you’re going to be very disappointed by rejections. You’re also going to irritate a lot of Editors who don’t have time to be irritated.

If you ask the journal marketing magicians, they’ll say the best way to learn about a journal is to buy a copy of it, I don’t always agree. Some journals are $20 and there’s a lot you can learn from the websites that will give you great ideas about whether you might be a fit, and what you should submit.

Examples:

THAT Literary Review is affiliated with the Department of English and Philosophy and the College of Arts and Sciences at Auburn University at Montgomery. It is published annually.
They say “The poetry that we prefer is alive and idiosyncratic and that opens new vistas to the reader. We stay away from rhyming poetry, conventional forms, and love poetry unless brilliantly revisited. Three poems may be submitted (as a single document) at a time, with a total maximum of twenty pages.”
Okay, so they love to read wacky poems, don’t much love rhyming or forms, and by saying they accept three poems with a maximum of twenty pages, they’re saying they’ll read long poems. I don’t write long poems myself, but I know that people who do have a hard time finding places to submit.
Read the rest of the submission guidelines too. Always. DON’T SEND THEM HAIKU! Don’t send them love poems that sound like a cross between your 16-year-old diary and a Hallmark Card. They don’t give you a LOT of information, but they give you some. Use it!!! I submitted accordingly and I have been grateful to have been accepted.

Cholla Needles “publishes a monthly literary magazine and books by local and visiting writers who love the desert.”
“We suggest reading a sample issue to help yourself become familiar with our format. Each issue consists of ten chapbooks within two covers. Each month readers receive these 10 chapbooks by current writers for $5.”
That’s pretty cool. If you get accepted, you get a chapbook. It would be worth $5 to see what it’s all about. How many journals publish more than one or two pieces of your work? If that’s still too pricey, “See you at the monthly magazine release party and reading!!!” Clearly if you live far away, you can’t go, but this is a journal doing everything they can to connect with people. I wanted to be part of it! Thankfully I am grateful to have been accepted.

You know that I follow Jeff around. When he was accepted by Hobo Camp Review, I had to find out about it.

Hobo Camp Review is a quiet, tucked-away place where any writer, poet, artist, or storyteller can rest their weary feet and share their story through poetry or prose over a crackling fire. Travelers and transients of all backgrounds and styles are welcomed, but your story doesn't have to be about the road, travel, or hobo life (although we enjoy that from time to time). It can be about anything at all, so long as it has a sense of vagrancy, a little sparkle and a little dust, shadows and angles, a hint of nostalgia, a desire for something more, anything that sounds great by a campfire with a train calling in the distance. Be original. Be honest. Be from anywhere. Be going somewhere. Remember what happens in-between and tell us all about it. “

Oh my goodness, this was so different than anything I’d ever written. I read the guidelines, made a submission, crossed my fingers, and was very thankful that on the freeway on the way to a reading, I was accepted. I’ve actually posted that poem before, but here’s a later poem that was accepted:

Homeless Pete Gets Robbed on Catalina Avenue

It was just a quick cat-nap.
The shady doorway in the alley
behind the stinking hair salon
on Catalina seemed harmless.

He never sleeps longer than 5 or 10,
never at night – bad things happen
with only the giant orange flame
of moon to light a man’s dreams.

They took everything -
his radio, his sneakers,
the jacket found in a dumpster
a year ago when some couple

relocating to even warmer
climates cleaned out
their closets.  Left with only
the gray sweater tied around

a long-sleeved tee, two pairs
of pants worn one over the other
and a pair of sandals, he’s out
asking for a turkey sandwich,

that’s all he wants.  Just
a little something to stop
the gnawing in his stomach.
He’s too empty for grief,
too dignified to smash glass.

(Previously published in Hobo Camp Review)

With a bit of detective work and a little research, you can increase your chances of acceptance. You know that you are good writers. If you are submitting writers, don’t hijack your chances by submitting to journals inappropriate for the work you write. I have a whole list of journals I will never be in. Jeff does too. About every four years I try, just to see if anything’s changed. No.

Lastly, a final note from James H. Duncan, the Editor of Hobo Camp Review. James is a beautiful writer who faces the same submission challenges we do:

See here
“Hi, thanks for your email but read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting. Read the guidelines before submitting.
Thank you,
Every Editor Ever”

Have a great week. Stay cool. Be safe. Write well!!!

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Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


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