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Seer of ghosts & weaver of stories

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Tangent from the mainline poetry discussions going on this week:

What do you do when you're too speculative/slipstream for a lot of the major literary publications, but too literary for a lot of the SF/F publications that also publish speculative/slipstream poetry?

(The answer being, of course: send your work wherever you can and take what you can get! It works, mostly, but, as I'm about to discuss below, there are some potential drawbacks and frustrations.)

To add to my comment at the above link, I should also note that what's happened in my case is, I've accrued a decent collection of publication credits and even have a chapbook and collection forthcoming - but the venues are so varied in their scope that I think it makes people nervous. What are you? they seem to ask, I assume because they can't discern any clear genre trend in the venues in which I've appeared.

It was samhenderson's passing comment on the marginalization of speculative poetry, as well as the notice re: Dwarf Stars anthology nominations, that got me thinking. I had only one poem of fewer than ten lines published during 2008. And although it is somewhat surreal, I don't think that I can reasonably put it forward. Given where it was published (elimae), it will automatically have a closer affinity with the literary than with the speculative/slipstream (even though it may toe the line enough to count as such).

(Anyone else who's in this boat, by the way, I'd love to hear from you. Bewildered, oarless drifters love company! And yes, I'm inviting full-on discussion here. Fire away.)

ETA: It occurs to me that I should clarify what I mean by the "What are you?" comment. I've gotten sufficient rejections from top-tier literary magazines that either a) carry some kind of criticism to the effect of "although we found your work intriguing, it doesn't seem grounded enough in real events" [or insert some other mystifying comment of your choice] or b) say, "Gee, this isn't right for us, but you should go submit it to [X] publication - it's right up their alley" and have then subsequently been rejected by the suggested publication to think that maybe, just maybe there's something consistently scaring off editors in this tier. I mean, ten or twelve rejections each from some of the highest-profile publications out there? I'm not sending them my weakest work, that's for certain. I almost always include a bio with previous publication credits in my covering letters for these (almost always postal) submissions. Given that I've heard it seems to matter to these editors where you've been previously published and what high-profile competitions you've won, well - I imagine that publication in, say, Sybil's Garage and Farrago's Wainscot just doesn't look quite as impressive. Which is a shame, because the spec and SF/F mags are publishing work of equal (and often better) quality. Granted, these are just my observations; it's why I'd like to hear from others who may be experiencing the same sort of success in one arena/failure in another.

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Wow--are editors/magazines that insistent on labeling?

A goodly number seem to be, yes - or it's implied in the way they react when turning a given piece or pieces down. Granted, I think this trend is probably changing, as samhenderson also suggests - as evidenced by the success in recent years of publications like Sybil's Garage and Farrago's Wainscot. I love publications that actively seek a broad spectrum of work and do their absolute best to avoid hard-and-fast labeling!

I'm tempted to say, "What do you do? You start your own publication!" But that doesn't solve where you publish your poetry[*] -- only where everyone else in the same dilemma does.

[*] Because one would want to avoid the appearance of vanity publishing, of course.

Heh, yes. And starting a creditable publication (usually) takes money, which I definitely don't have! Don't get me wrong, I think that editing a publication of some variety is something I can see myself doing in the long run. But perhaps not now.

Edited at 2009-07-26 07:10 pm (UTC)

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