Posted by: Rosemary Badcoe | February 1, 2013

‘Submit without submitting’

Zen and the Art of Submitting Poetry

Rejection does not make you a bad poet.
Acceptance does not make you a good one.
Therefore, neither should trouble you.

Chase after fame, however, and you put your life
into the hands of others:
they will tip you between hope and despair.

Aim, then, to be aimless.
Seek neither publication, nor acclaim:
submit without submitting.

                                Cameron Self

It’s a curious business, receiving poetry submissions. Never mind the actual poems; what’s  intriguing are the styles of submission and what they might reveal about the poets themselves. There are those who follow the guidelines, add a brief but cheery cover letter and a short biography, and that’s that: those are a joy to deal with, as we can get straight down to considering the poetry, and if we like it can accept it without bothering the poet for further details.

Of course we believe that all submitters have read Antiphon and submit because they feel we are the best place ever to publish poetry – but we don’t hold it against them (well, not too much) if they forget to change the cover letter and it still says ‘Please consider these poems for publication in Warburg’s Plethora, a journal I know and love’. The people we find stranger are those who send what might be their entire oeuvre – dozens of poems. Surely they know that editors don’t have the time to read the lot? Then, occasionally, we get a stack of poems by email – no note, no thanks, barely even their name; or the same but sent to a list of addresses as long as your arm. Being published is a two-way process, particularly when the editors are doing it for love not money. It’s hard to get heard above the crowd, but spray-painting poems across our screens might not be the best approach. Send us the love (and the money, if you like) by reading the mag and following the guidelines, and we’ll cherish your work in return.

Talking of publishing, the above poem by Cameron Self is taken from the anthology Making Contact, edited by Ian Badcoe, John C Nash and me, and available from all good retailers (ISBN 0957185219) and the publisher, Ravenshead Press. It’s an anthology of work from poets of the poetry forum Poets’ Graves.




  1. Hi Rosemary,
    I wasn’t sure from the website whether issue 6 is themed

    • Hi Bruce, No, there isn’t a theme for issue 6. Send everything! (as long as it’s the very best!)

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