On 30 August 2010 I submitted a selection of poems to the Bacopa Literary Review, produced by the Writers Alliance of Gainesville. An obscure journal to say the least (I think Gainesville is somewhere in Florida).
I subscribe to the Duotrope’s Digest RSS feed which advises me of all manner of journals open for submissions. There are lots of journals around the world, some electronic, some print based. I sift through the upcoming deadlines and read the submission guidelines to see if any of my work will fit. It’s not that I’m obsessed with publication, I write for myself, but I use the submissions to give me an idea of whether I’m ‘improving’ with my writing, so I submit to many journals, from the local to the far reaches of the globe (like Gainesville).
Sometime in October 2010 I received an email to tell me that two of the poems I’d submitted were not appropriate for the journal, however, they were holding one for further consideration. They took pains to tell me that it was not a guarantee of publication. So, I submitted the other two poems elsewhere (one of which will be appearing on another website in the next few weeks) and held off on sending the ‘held’ poem.
In January 2011 they wrote again to tell me that they had accepted my poem. This had been one of the longest acceptance processes I’d been through, but I was happy. There followed a few smaller emails questioning the formatting, single spacing being preferred by the editors over one and a half spacing that is generally the norm with submissions. I replied that it was fine to adjust the spacing.
Then all went quiet. No further emails, no proof sheets, no ‘contracts’.
In April I sent off an email asking what was happening. I kept an eye on their website for updates. Nothing. No reply to the email, no updates to the website.
Then earlier this month their website was updated, thunderbirds were go on the Review, launching 22 May. I still had no proper confirmation that I was in, I just figured I’d wait and see if I received a contributor copy.
Today, I got the copy. It cost $US9.60 to mail, plus the cost of the padded bag, and the journal retails in the US for $12.50. I ripped open the padded bag, opened the journal to the table of contents. There I was, page 100, ‘what is real’ by Mark William Jackson. I flicked straight to page 100 (as you do), there was the first half of my poem, then page 101? ‘Learning from Bees’ by Marian Kaplun Shapiro. After all the above; the submission, the wait, the email that I’d made it to the second round, the wait, the acceptance, the discussion regarding formatting (without proof sheets), the silence, the unanswered email, the stagnant website; they’d published half of my poem.
Now the poem can’t be submitted to another journal because it has ‘technically’ been published (in the Bacopa Review produced by the Writers Alliance of Gainesville, Florida).
So, here is the poem, in its entirety, I have added bold to the section missing in the Bacopa Review; it is a rather important section as it turns the tone of the poem, hopefully it adheres to Robert Frost’s theory that a poem ‘begins in delight and ends in wisdom’.
And the point of this long introduction? Regardless of where you are in your writing career be careful where you submit.
what is real
in this binary world the liminal is lost only space between nowhere and now here what is real is it the pen that slashes across the page in thrusts and swoops like a swashbuckling hero defending an honour or the dollar wrestled from the grip of time a reward for trading hours away calculated rates of interest and exchange the needle that digs in through skin to deliver its chemical images what if the doors of perception were cleansed and the reality drove us mad or is it the flickering visions of the past captured on the mind’s celluloid or discarded on the cutting room floor for not being of production quality what is real real is the memory of things to come real is that love that did not start and will not finish but just is.
First published at Mark William Jackson.
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