on following submission guidelines

Happy Monday, all! Hope your week’s off to a good start.

Here’s what I have for you today:

  • On following submission guidelines

  • What I read last week

  • Quotations

  • What I hope to read this week

  • Re: Audre Lorde

  • Re: editor condescension

  • Re: visual poetry

On following submission guidelines:

When you submit to a journal, be sure to follow the guidelines listed on their “submit” page. That’s it. That’s the tweet.

No, but really: some editors are really fussy about this. For some journals, if you don’t follow the guidelines, your submission will be automatically rejected, unread—and this is a big deal if you’re paying over $3 in submission fees.

As many of you know by now, I run a small literary journal and—really—we don’t have a lot of rules re: submissions. My one thing, though, is that—if there’s no cover letter—the submission will be deleted unread. There needs to be some sort of greeting. That’s it.

In summary! You’ll want to do your best to abide by journal guidelines to 1) give your writing a fair shot and 2) not irritate fussy editors.

What I read last week:


This process of labelling ourselves is always personal and complex. Though most LGBTQ2S+ people recognize that any label can have as many meanings as the number of people who use it—and that all those meanings are valid—for those whose gender identity (one’s internal sense of their own gender) and/or presentation and expression (how one’s gender identity manifests externally) is incongruent with the sex we were assigned at birth, language can be life-saving.

-Tre’vell Anderson

Ultimately, gender is a cell into which all people, cis, trans and otherwise, are imprisoned by the prevailing binary beliefs about what it means to be a man or woman. It’s a test every human being fails, consistently and gloriously; and yet our society is supremely invested in its maintenance.

-Tre’vell Anderson

It’s important to note that trans folks were only ever called trans because cis people needed a way to differentiate, and further marginalize, our lived experiences—harkening to James Baldwin’s infamous “I’m only Black because you think you’re white” refrain.

-Tre’vell Anderson

The personal ways we identify are influenced, consciously and unconsciously, by the broader, oppressive systems at play.

-Tre’vell Anderson

I just think goodness is more interesting. Evil is constant. You can think of different ways to murder people, but you can do that at age five. But you have to be an adult to consciously, deliberately be good—and that’s complicated.

-Toni Morrison

A Tomboy was amusing and accepted, but at puberty she was expected to “grow out of it” and become ladylike. If she didn’t, and kept her boyish behavior as an adult, well then, maybe she was. . .homosexual. Many parent feared that a Tomboy daughter might grow up to be a Lesbian.

-Bitches, Bimbos and Bullbreakers: The Guerilla Girls’ Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes

What I hope to read this week:

What else?


  1. What are the words you do not have yet? [Or, “for what do you not have words, yet?”]

  2. What do you need to say? [List as many things as necessary]

  3. “What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?” [List as many as necessary today. Then write a new list tomorrow. And the day after.]

  4. If we have been “socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition”, ask yourself: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?”* [So, answer this today. And every day.]

*Adapted from “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action,” collected in The Cancer Journals.

And: why are some editors so condescending?

Here’s the latest obnoxious rejection letter I got. And people are in the comments arguing—that it’s helpful! that it’s meant to be constructive! that I’m ungrateful!—but, look, as someone who has edited four separate literary journals: it’s just not the standard for a journal to send such a snobby and patronizing note. Also, I’ve feel like we’ve learned this by now: don’t offer unsolicited advice.

If you like to laugh, three other icky rejection letters are listed here:

beauty and terror (on poetry & being human)
being a good literary citizen
Alrighty, folks. The time has come. I am going to talk about appropriate conduct and comportment if you want to find success (or at least be liked!) in the writing world. I talk about some of this stuff in more detail in my e-book, Publishing Poems: An Easy Guide…
Read more


I had fun this weekend doing some erasure poems—thanks to a free copy of The Great Gatsby. Here are a few of them:


The next issue of The West Review is set to come out in December, and I’m looking for a few more poems (and, maybe, art!) to include. Honorarium is $10/poem, and submissions are always free.

In closing:

If you are fairly new to the ~poetry world~ or to submitting your work, you might check out my e-book, Publishing Poems: An Easy Guide. This e-book contains some hacks for submissions success—as well as my advice re: applying to MFA programs (though that’s just a bonus chapter).

You can also treat yourself to a surprise book in the mail each month, courtesy of moi. (And I always include extras—whether that be a zine, a bookmark, stickers, etc.)

Because this newsletter’s free, you have to bear with me re: self-promotion. Forgive me. Baby’s gotta pay rent somehow.

That’s all for today. Thanks for being here.