Occasionally people who know me, or who know my poetry, will ask me why I don't submit anymore. I've usually only got vague answers for them because I'm not really sure myself.
Today, though, I remember the real reason behind my lack of enthusiasm for poetry magazines and for the editors of poetry magazines wihch has, God help me, filtered all the way down to the way I feel about poetry itself.
It all started 6 years ago with the infamous Poetry.com, of course.
And then along came the now defunct Foetry with it's unending and irritating tales of poetry-publishing shenanigans, not the least of which was The Tupelo Press/Jeffery Levine (Send-me-$35.00-please) debacle and the Lehman/Best American Poetry Series with it's rather incestuous sounding selection process.
More recently, there's this and there's this just in case all that other stuff wasn't enough to convince us (meaning me) that there is very little honor and very much nepotism in the publishing world.
Just in case I was in danger of changing my mind, however, one of "the good guys" (in my mind, anyhow, since I had never heard anything bad about him or his publication - if fact, on the contrary, I had always heard very good, very fair and complimentary things about him) has now fallen from the clay pedestal I'd once set him and a very few other editors upon.
It all came to Light over on Eratosphere on this thread started by a poet from North Dakota named Timothy Murphy.
For those of you who don't want to waste an hour reading the whole thread, I'll do a quick recap:
The well-known Murphy said, about Tom Mella, the editor of Light Magazine,
,John Mella's been awfully good to a lot of us. He doesn't accept email, so I'll email this in.
This is true, of course. They do not accept email submission. If you read their guidelines, there is no email address for submissions given and all submission information is paper based only.
Please be neat, submit letter-quality typescripts or clean photocopies, and a stamped self-addressed business (# 10) or manila-sized envelope (no post cards). Submissions that do not have sufficient postage for their return will be destroyed unread. There should be only one poem on each page, etc etc
Send contributions, queries, subscriptions, correspondence to:
PO Box 7500
Chicago, Illinois 60680
No email address or instructions for it's usage was given on the submission page - no where, no how, no way.
Five hours later, the following announcement was posted on the thread:
This just in from Light Quarterly:
INSTANT DECISION: I LOVE IT! AND ACCEPT IT.. I'm sorry about your wheelchair. I'm glad you can still keep the sight steady. Write when you will or can. Glad you like the facelift of the mag. Still kicking, the old girl.
And so, this is a rather long and tedious way of saying, "In order to get an editor's attention, it's not how you write, it's not what you write, it's not how carefully you follow directions or how neatly you fold each submission or how much blood and sweat went into your poem or your preparation - it's about how well you already know them."
I'll take the high road here and go out on a limb - editors like that, editors who have rules for one set of people which do not apply to other sets of people, I don't think I really want to know them or to waste my time submitting poetry to them......at least Poetry.com is quickly up front about the way they do business - and as far as I know, they don't discriminate - they read all of the submissions the same way and they take everyone's money the same way - regardless of who they are - and they're not afraid or ashamed to say so.
I mean, fer God's sake, if you're going to make a practice of favoritism, at least have the decency to be quiet about it.