Lit mag editor re-thinks what it means to be "previously published"
Hoping this will be a sea change. ONE ART: a journal of poetry (oneartpoetry [dot] com) is on board! Looking forward to hearing thoughts on how we can further transform together as a community.
I love the idea of this, but wonder if the publishing world's ideas of publishing are so entrenched that "curation" as label will ever catch on.
The term "curated" is unfortunately being bastardized across different media and in academia when "selected" or "chosen" would do just as well. As in" We've curated the best toasters of 2023."
Makes great sense to me. Thanks for posting, er, publishing this--and thanks to Becky for curating! I wonder if self-published works should count as curated. There's a big difference between a book written and edited by a single person, not widely distributed (and thus not "curated") and one that is more widely marketed/ publicized, and thus, in a sense, "curated" by the literary community (reviewers, librarians, etc). Might there be an objective standard for breadth of marketing and/or overall sales? I remember reading in someone's submission guidelines something like, "Self-published books accepted if less than 100 copies sold." Seemed arbitrary but a step in the right direction.
Take this idea one step further: in the art world, having previously appeared in another curated gallery showing does not disqualify an installation, object, or performance from appearing in a new exhibit -- it may appear in the meta-matter, biographical material or an artist's statement about the piece, that the work has been previously exhibited at other locations, and that list of curation would add up to further recommendation of the piece.
The idea that a piece is "widely anthologized" is analogous in literature: you can find "Not Waving But Drowning" in numerous books, and that recommends it more than another poem less widely anthologized.
So my question would be, why the emphasis on previously uncurated works? If the goal is to curate the best possible print-exhibit, why would you limit yourself only to pieces that have never before appeared in print-exhibit?
Certainly novelty is valued, and it would make sense to tout a certain number of "never before seen" objects, installations, performances, or poems, but should it really be the overriding value that defines everything that may be included?
We are launching a brand new magazine (not a publication?) https://hkwcmagazine.substack.com/, with submissions for our first issue opening on April 1. Your comments give us a lot to think about! Thank you.
I LOVE this post and this idea. Of course, it has always been true that literary editors are gate-keepers. The term “curation” is a far more transparent and accurate term for what they do. I think it also raises, not lowers, the value of being chosen for publication in a lit mag’s pages.
This is such an interesting conversation. I love this idea, "make the literary world a better place."
Indeed! Thank you for this.
This is totally right-on. Poets rely on one another for advice and many of us quietly workshop in obscure corners of the internet. But by the strictest application of many submission guidelines, poems drafted in a group of eight or ten poet friends and posted for their suggestions would be "published" and not acceptable for inclusion in a good mag. It's just silly. I am hopeful that like simultaneous submission, more editors will see the light on this topic. I'm changing my bio from "published" to "curated" today!
This: "What service are we actually providing by editing and creating a magazine?" Most editor/curators are doing just this — with noble intent. But they feel to have legitimacy and status they need to adhere to the old ways. It's as if a poem had no legitimacy were in not written in rhymed and meter verse with each line beginning with a capital letter.
Next let's work on those fraught words, "rejection," "submission," and "acceptance." There *has* to be a better lexicon to describe the relationship between (in my case) poets, their poems, and journal "curators."
I love this so much, thank you for sharing. As someone who has only self-published, the daunting notion of having to delete everything I have ever published on social media or Substack to "get published" elsewhere is terrible. It feels like erasing the parts of me that used poetry as a way to connect to others. I hope more people subscribe to the notion of "uncurated" vs "unpublished"
Brilliant, compassionate, creative and superbly reasonable. Bravo Tim!
Bravo! This is brilliant, generous, and long overdue. Thanks for your insight, courage, and caring, Timothy!
This feels brilliant to me. And fair. I think not easily searchable on the web is important. I especially find it important that we (poets) could read new work. That's how we know what's working or what's not. This would (I think) improve my process a great deal.
I often write, in response to either an acceptance or rejection, that I look forward to what the editor curates for this particular issue. After reading this very thought-provoking discussion, I just may include the term in my bio, too! I admit, my blog has cobwebs because I am so fearful to 'publish' any one line that I might like to use in a new piece someday. I'd like to take the chains off and feel free to put my art out into the world....while I am still here.
A wonderful policy
Many thanks Timothy
That’s a good suggestion, Tim. Winning Writers addresses this issue by accepting both published and unpublished work into its contests (except for the North Street Book Prize, which only accepts published work).