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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.

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Thanks so much, Mark! It's really wonderful for you to adopt this so quickly. All we need is a critical mass to give it momentum and it will gradually become the norm, I think.

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Update:

ONE ART's Submission Guidelines have been updated in line with new thoughts on 'Curation' (aka. publication)

As the conversation continues, we hope to address the unfortunate language of submission/rejection/acceptance.

See our guidelines:

https://oneartpoetry.com/submissions/

Please feel free to suggest changes :)

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Love how quickly you acted!:)

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Very thoughtful updates around the new terminology in your sub guidelines, Mark. I appreciated the addition of "audio" aspects and your invitiation to email about grey areas. I think there will be many "grey areas" moving forward and I hope Rattle follows your lead there.

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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.

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I think it's good to keep words clear, and curation means to thoughtfully select and arrange things into a collection—self-published books are just as much that, especially if available for purchase, and should be respected as genuine acts of both publication and curation, in my opinion. Even if they only sell 100 copies, that's about how well many small press books do anyway.

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Exactly, my point being that self-published books are NOT (other than the exceptions I mentioned) "thoughtfully selected and arranged into a collection." Furthermore, the attempt to legitimize them in this way (an impulse I respect), may have the affect of punishment, trapping them in their (albeit self-assigned) purgatory.

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Thanks for your comments. This came to mind...https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43697/the-author-to-her-book

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Apr 6, 2023·edited Apr 6, 2023

The gatekeeping snobbery of your comment is surely contrary to the argument of this post. Self-publishing encompasses an enormous range of quality precisely because no-one dictates a minimum.

There are highly successful authors who employ editors, professional artists, book designers and even marketers. These writers have made an economic choice to control their publishing experience, often receiving a greater return than authors who choose to take the traditional route. For others, self-publishing is a matter of creative choice, an opportunity to practice their art and publish freely, though this frequently comes with a naïve understanding of the editorial journey most works take from first draft to publication.

Most self-published writers lie somewhere between these extremes, but increasingly few of them think of it as purgatory.

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You're certainly not the first person to call me a snob, though I think you misconstrued, if not the meaning then the intention of my post(s). As I just said to HollyJahangiri above, my post was advocating FOR self-published authors, many (I won't presume to say what proportion, neither most nor "very few") of whom would like to be included in more mainstream "curating" processes, such as reviews and book awards. Based on my experience as a self-published author of four books (actually, including two early editions, six), I stand by the purgatory analogy. Granted, I am neither the most savvy nor the best-funded self-promoter; yet, in my experience the curating, or vetting, available to my ilk feels more like shark-infested waters--once word gets out you're willing to pay (the self-published have to pay for everything), the grifters queue up greedily in your inbox. I am sorry if I miscommunicated (again, not the first time), but (for me!) purgatory is putting it kindly.

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I'm still not sure that it's purgatory, anymore than being a mid-list trad-published writer sounds like all the hard work for a lot less reward. You're right about the grifters, though I find most of their attempts as convincing as the Instagram messages desperate to recruit my dog to advertise their wares.

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Yes, I hear you. Someday, if I ever rise to the lofty heights of the mid-list trade writers, I may well find the purgatory I know is better (or as good) as the one I don't. As for my original question whether self-curating should count or not (Tim's original post said self-published works should not be "curated" by external outlets), I still wish there were more specific criteria for when it is eligible vs when it isn't, as disqualifying all self-published books ignores the many nuanced distinctions (as you say above) in the industry. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Alex.

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Sorry, didn't mean to suggest any lack of thoughtfulness on the part of self-published authors, being one myself (four books and counting). My point is that there is no external process they are subjected to, by definition, though this of course, as you say, varies project to project. The whole point of my post was advocating FOR inclusion of self-published authors (or some of them, depending on what criteria might be established) in "curating" processes, as many of us would love to be considered for reviews, awards, etc that are reserved for traditionally published authors.

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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?

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Said this on another comment, but I do think there should be a much larger diversity of approaches in general, including more journals that publish reprints and previously curated poems. I was involved with a regional literary magazine years ago, and argued for accepting reprints from local authors—the whole idea was to highlight local authors, so why not highlight their best work, and the good news of where it had been published? That worked really well, and I'd like to see more of it.

But like Mark says, we receive so many submissions—it's about 250,000 poems at Rattle per year—that it's more important for us and many others to focus on newer work that hasn't yet been circulated. The Rattle Foundation's mission is to "promote the practice of poetry," and that's best achieved by encouraging people to continue writing new poems, which to me is a secular spiritual practice that enriches all our lives. But I do think there should be more variety in how we approach this. The term "uncurated" is just one avenue for increasing that kind of diversity.

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I don't want to speak on behalf of Tim though I know Rattle receives an astounding amount of submissions. Highlighting new poetry is an important aspect of operating a contemporary poetry journal. I feel the same for my journal, ONE ART. The fear is that new material will get crowded out by re-publishing work that has already appeared elsewhere and is *publicly* available. If it's not searchable on the web then this is less of a concern.

I totally agree with you about how it works in visual arts and that it's a whole different game. Having a show move around and gain clout is not dissimilar from being widely anthologized. I've had a few poems that have appeared in a few locations and that makes me feel like there is something more special about those poems. That being said, there remains the question of "what is a literary journal meant for" and there are many answers... one of which is that it's a vessel for poets to publish new work (First Publication/Curation) that may then be included in a future book. This benefits both other journal contributors, helps the journal, and helps the individual author/artist.

Some will say that a primarily purpose of lit mags is a stepping stone to towards book publication. This isn't the most delightful framework for an Editor as it makes you feel like a bit of a cog in the machine. That being said, each of us has a role to play in the literary/arts community (which is something I myself have been working on trying to write about for community discussion).

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Another enlightening comparison might be to college admissions -- just as a student can only go to one college, a poem or story can only go to one journal.

Back in ye olden days, there was a friction-premium on applying: paper applications, hand-writing or type-writer filling them, printing and collating and paying for postage... applying to more than two or three schools was a huge job. Once college applications went online, a lot of that friction smoothed out.

Everyone still wants their kid/poem to "go" to the best place for them, but the greater ease in applying to more places ALSO created a massive flood of applications/submissions -- I'll add a gift-link to a NYTimes article about this below -- now colleges receive tens of thousands of applications to a freshman class that might number a couple thousand.

University admissions offices also want to "curate" their classes. They want a diversity of sports and clubs interests, gender, race, and religious diversity, regional diversity, international students, rich students who can pay full-price, poor students who can benefit from scholarships. If they can get them, they want a handful of "superstars": kids who have already made a precocious mark on the world, just as lit journals strive to get one or two better-known names in each issue.

And none of these colleges is above using the flood of applications -- which remember is not a redistribution of the old numbers but a multiplication, the same or a smaller number of students simply "sending out" to more places -- to brag about their enormous number of applications and their very low acceptance rate.

The college admissions folks haven't figured out how to deal with this crisis any more than ye/we/the literary journal folks, but a solution does suggest itself in both cases: something akin to a national draft or real estate market, combined with the instant digital auction features google and such use for ads: applicants / students / poems / players / houses go on the market and pre-declare what schools / journals etc. they'd be interested in going to / appearing in and under what financial (etc.) conditions.

If the application is a "fit" according to school / journal curation needs, a list of possible acceptances and terms is presented to the family / author in a fraction of a second. But another school or journal could make an offer to a brilliant but unconventional student / poem that's not otherwise snatched up.

This would allow journal editors to "shop" for available unpublished (virginal!) creative works in an open market, and would make it so that writers don't have to return to the creativity-crushing decision-fatiguing nonsensical ritual of submissions again and again.

Smoosh Submittable / Zillow / Google Ads / Common Application together and you might just make the literary world a better place for everyone.

Here's that article I mentioned:

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/16/opinion/college-admissions-common-app.html?unlocked_article_code=5gePdgbnbwrFAR2ktEnbb1rJ84H_F_zDPJpYKOeCVP8T0SbYPQDsyGF2Yw3aBqDLNjZjFpBZ8ueScO85rIztMFisOcNJlQjw09Qry5j0ZnrudOwAtfuSBBb1JsMgoa5imVVdZKF81ZFNrUJqJA9UkKbTy3Zr6mYeN0zLFDNA4O6M-qKcQlsAn1rkT1hYsMCwHIScqjVZcgLo5EiWG7xLNf7s0-EICxF8F8Ce_vW1l6yZ42I3CRt4lvwBJV0K-HS7Rh6EDbFuyDQ8jnXhEpYDsdZyikyP9MHv11H-egJAa-3wwHULSLsHgOWaZ27CmN2oDBYFyRQn5hugWeUBQh-Nt9vzcBG5CGA&smid=url-share

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Another version of this is what we have for playwrights: the new play exchange. https://newplayexchange.org (or my page there: https://newplayexchange.org/users/1088/emma-goldman-sherman) is a site where playwrights upload their work for @ $10/year and get a page (I have 40+ plays on mine) and directors and theatre can reach out for rights to produce... it works beautifully! I have made over 2k with my page. But MORE important than that, there is a way for other playwrights (and dramaturgs) to read the work and recommend it, because productions are a lot of heavy lifting and few and far off for most playwrights. This is an incredibly validating experience - to have one's play read and recommended. AND it creates a vibrant community! Created by Nan Barnett and Gwydion Suilebhan, it has done more for playwrights than anything since the raked stage was first invented by creating a more level playing field and proving that there ARE plays written by BIPOC/LGBTQIA+/disabled, etc people or whatever you want to search for and discover.

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Emma, this is super interesting. I have next to no knowledge (until this moment) of what contemporary playwrights get up to. Thanks for this. I'm sure there are a lot of folks in the theater world who would want to hear more about this if they're not already in the loop.

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This is magnificent! Thank you! :)

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Amy, this is so interesting in a number of ways. Back when I was more focused on my poet role vs. wearing my Editor's Hat -- I though it would be a great idea to have a place where poets/writers could upload the work they wanted considered and Editor's would then have to go to that space and fight over the work. Would any Editors do this remains a question. I actually would, speaking on behalf of ONE ART. The reason being that there is an appeal (knowing what I like) to seek out work that fits my taste as opposed to the slush submissions model where I might spend several hours sending variations on a form rejection (Anyone feel free to use "Variations on a Form Rejection" as a poem title :P )

I appreciate your comparison of college applications to bragging about how many subs people have out in the world. It's not helpful. The "dream journal" talk (as seen on socials) isn't super helpful either. I'm thinking about these "challenges" (should I blame TikTok haha) to try to get X number of rejections in a week/month/year. This takes up real time and time is all we have in the end. I'm always fighting to buy back my time so anything that is an unnecessary time suck is not appreciated.

Duotrope's "duosuma" submissions is thought-provoking... the idea that you can upload and recycle a submission that has been turned down. It's a reminder though that it would require a large-scale agreement for both writers and editors to use the same platform. My solution has been to make it as easy as possible to submit to ONE ART with a preference towards simply pasting poems in the body of an email (since as a poet I've always found that easiest) or an email attachment (because formatting). I don't count any mistakes in cover letters as "crimes" or anything like that. That's insane and why do editors pretend they're on some fakie pedestal. If you're in it for the right reasons than you want to be something in the vein of a good community organizer.

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It would require a large scale agreement, but then it kind of always has. The old doorstop WRITERS MARKET volumes had general methods and special requests, and when everyone had their own submission systems but they were often the same systems tailored to the publication, and now almost everyone uses submittable.

What if submittable led the way? What if submittable made an open forum, they could even middle-man profit in the way of etsy or poshmark or something -- I'd imagine it would be quite lucrative.

Writers could advertise their WordWares and editors could curate (and pay for) their selections with a click or two, like pinning boards on pintrest (or so I imagine, I've never used pintrest).

This would of course also open publishing to many more people and allow for more "one off" creative publications to be put together around various themes and patterns, mixing old and new, and allowing for more methods and timelines for promotion.

Hey, I'm just brainstorming here, but almost anything would be better than the system we've got.

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Submittable would need to get its act together based on the comments I see on a regular basis by journals about a host of issues that sound incredibly frustrating. Anyone who is a member of CLMP has probably been getting these emails for the last year or so... Submittable seems to be getting worse, not better at the moment.

One problem with Submittable is that the cost of using the service seems to encourage journals to desire to make back that money (instead of considering it overhead or sunk cost) by using a Pay to Play model and charging $3-5 per submission. This is bad. I do realize the old method of snail mail cost a little and you had to drive to the post office but that was also bad. Given the % acceptance vs. rejection it seems clear to me that slush submissions should always remain free.

To reiterate, I agree that you're totally right that the system we have not is not ideal.

I'd like to see funds coming to lit mags and small presses without the need for creating a 501c3. I understand gov't sees a sense of transparency but bad actors can clearly by pass this. And creating a board (required for a non-profit) means there's a bunch of egos in the room and that slows up the process of handling submissions as well as the overall vision of a journal/press.

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Mar 16, 2023·edited Mar 16, 2023Liked by Timothy Green

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.

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Congratulations and good luck!

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Mar 16, 2023Liked by Timothy Green

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.

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This is such an interesting conversation. I love this idea, "make the literary world a better place."

Indeed! Thank you for this.

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Mar 16, 2023Liked by Timothy Green

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."

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Yes, on target at a time, but Mark Danowsky and I talked about this too when I was showing him the article a few days ago. I think we'd be better off thinking about it as "offering for curation," rather than "submitting for publication." Or something along those lines. Submittable would have to rebrand!

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Mar 16, 2023·edited Mar 16, 2023Liked by Timothy Green

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."

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I think it will take 5 journals adopting it, and 100 writers in their bios, and that will be enough mass to for gravity to take over.

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So what do you suggest for the wording in our bios. Currently, I write "...poems have recently appeared in..." How might this be reworded to reflect the "curation" ethos?

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Dick, what do you think of this? Seems like the new language fluidly enters the conversation:

Mark Danowsky is Editor-in-Chief of ONE ART: a journal of poetry. He is author of the short poetry collections As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press), JAWN (Moonstone Press), Violet Flame (tiny wren lit), and Meatless (Plan B Press). His poems and other writing have been curated by Alba, Sheila-Na-Gig, The New Verse News, The Broadkill Review, anti-heroin chic, Gargoyle, The Healing Muse, Otoliths, Bird Watcher’s Digest, The Summerset Review, and elsewhere.

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I think we can push the envelope on this one :)

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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!

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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"

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Brilliant, compassionate, creative and superbly reasonable. Bravo Tim!

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Mar 16, 2023Liked by Timothy Green

Bravo! This is brilliant, generous, and long overdue. Thanks for your insight, courage, and caring, Timothy!

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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.

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Mar 16, 2023Liked by Timothy Green

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.

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I hope you do! I share my own poems on social media and get so much out of it that that I'm really strongly considering just self-publishing my next book rather than wait. The waits are so long.

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Mar 16, 2023Liked by Timothy Green

A wonderful policy

Many thanks Timothy

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Mar 16, 2023Liked by Timothy Green

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).

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Yes, Winning Writers does a wonderful job of genuinely supporting writers. That's one of the reasons I really liked to advertise our contests with you!

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You're good sports about submissions, in general.

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