Clarity from 2River

Richard Long has updated 2River’s submission guidelines. They now say:

2River considers unpublished poems only. An unpublished poem is one that has not appeared in any form of print or digital media, including personal or public blogs. A poem from a private, online workshop, however, would be considered, as long as the final version of the poem does not appear in a public space.

Thanks, Richard!

More on the blog-posted poem issue here.

Blog-posted poems again

Two of our recent guest-blogger editors, Eric Melbye of Segue and Susan Culver of Lily, have edited their submissions guidelines!

Segue’s guidelines now say:

We do not accept previously published creative work. “Previously published” includes final drafts published on blogs, personal web sites, etc.

Lily’s guidelines now say:

Lily’s editorial staff does not consider poems posted to a personal blog or an online workshop as previously published.

Many thanks to Eric and Susan. There are definitely two sides to this debate and clarity is all for the blogging poet. If you’re a poetry magazine editor with submissions guidelines that don’t address this point, please consider editing them for clarity. 

More on the whole blog-posted poems issue here.

This is just to say


This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness, by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. One of several kid poetry books I ordered for Whale Child in a fit of guilt a while ago.

Okay, this one is very cute. As usual, super-fab illustrations – wacky kid-friendly sketches with all kinds of oddball details that fascinated Whale Child. The collection is supposedly written by a group of sixth-graders in response to a class assignment. They all end up saying sorry to someone, whether in class or out of it, whether human or not; and get responses too. Mostly pretty light free verse and easy to read like dramatic mini-stories, which Whale Child enjoyed. A whole book of sorry poems sounded a bit morbid to me at first, but each poem strikes a different note and there’s lots of humor involved. Some were more serious than others (one about having to put a sick dog to sleep), but all a nice read. Each piece stands on its own, but they all refer to someone else in the class or in the family groups of the class, so in the end you get a nice sense of community.

a hundred horrible heads


Mother Earth now brought forth two terrible monsters, Typhon and his mate Echidna, and sent them against Zeus. They were so fearful that when the gods saw them they changed themselves into animals and fled in terror. Typhon’s hundred horrible heads touched the stars, venom dripped from his evil eyes, and lava and red-hot stones poured from his gaping mouths. Hissing like a hundred snakes and roaring like a hundred lions, he tore up whole mountains and threw them them at the gods.
…………………………………………………..D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths

Not really kid poetry, but oh well. Poetry food. That bit’s a favorite of Whale Child and his brother before him and I must say the idea of tearing up whole mountains and throwing them at the gods is taking. Not to be read extensively in long sittings, but judiciously, here and there, with most emphasis on the gory and the wacky. The boys have both have liked the minor odd-ball characters best – Typhon, the Centaurs, Argus, Cerberus, the Hydra, etc. If you have a baby, just buy this book and stash it on the bookshelf now. A good background book that keeps giving over years and years.


Many thanks to Richard Epstein  for this illuminating comment below on a distinction that has long perplexed me:

I think you have “critique” confused with “criticism.” It is a confusion which is epidemic on poetry boards. Even if you are right, and at a certain level of competence and sophistication, critiquing is no longer useful, criticism always is. Criticism explicates a poem, unfolds it, shows how it works and what it does, places it historically, places it in an author’s oeuvre. When we think of criticism, we are thinking of Eliot and Johnson and Jarrell and Brooks; they weren’t trying to help a writer improve himself. Theirs was a dialogue between the critic and the audience, not between the critic and the poet.

Critiquing is useful, but only at a rudimentary level. Our goal as poets is to move past critiquers to the critics; our goal as critics is to find poems worth, not critiquing, but criticizing.

Here’s an old discussion on the difference between critiquing and reviewing.

Here are the not-very-illuminating relevant bits from Merriam-Webster, for what they’re worth:

2: the art of evaluating or analyzing works of art or literature; also : writings expressing such evaluation or analysis

: an act of criticizing; especially : a critical estimate or discussion
: to examine critically : review

6 a: a critical evaluation (as of a book or play)