I first submitted to 32 Poems in 2008. I discovered the lit mag after networking with writers such as Emma Bolden who had been published in 32Poems before. I seek out journals that publish people I admire.
My poems were rejected. My response? I became a subscriber. I chose to subscribe because the editors were prompt and professional with their responses. Mostly, I subscribed because of the poems they publish. The representative poems that appear on their website were key in my decision to subscribe. I knew I wanted to read this journal.
Who knew that two years later my first appearance with 32 Poems would be on their blog to announce I landed on a poetry bestseller list? 32 Poems was the first to tell me that +I was on the best seller list?! (I lasted a week on the list, but hey, it was still an amazing URL moment).
In 2009, after reading issues of the magazine, I submitted to 32 Poems again. I was hurried that particular week. In retrespect, I see I should have sent only one of the five. I feel bad about what I sent back then. The editors had to take the time to read those less-than-adequate poems before sending me a well deserved and polite “no thanks.”
Sometimes I become busy just trying to send out my work and forget to plan for the publication to which I am sending. Granted, I probably thought those poems were my best at the time I sent them—and I still feel, at least one is—but maybe I should have taken a minute to reread an issue or a poem in 32 Poems before submitting that time.
As I worked on this post, I checked my submission list for 2010 and was surprised to see I’d not yet submitted to 32 Poems. What can I submit this time around that will stand out? I’m starting a list . . .
On my own blog, I looked at my submission history to see whether or not reading a journal before I submit is worthwhile. My playing with numbers didn’t really show an across the board correlation to reading a journal and being published in that journal, but I noticed that I garnered more comments, a more personal touch, from those journals that I read beforehand. +Comments from a magazine editor are, at least for me, often a stepping stone. In many cases, within a year or two after receiving personal comments from an editor, I finally send a poem that fits their publication’s aesthetic.
So, should you read journals before you submit your work to them?
Yes. Reading a journal you admire supports that literary venture and reminds you why you keep doing this crazy thing called poetry. For me, a big part of why I keep writing is because somewhere along the line some poem changed how I saw the world. A quality literary magazine showcases both new and old voices that are doing just that.