From the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in collaboration with the School of Earth and Sustainability, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and the UMass Libraries comes Paperbark Literary Magazine. It has a very clean and modern-looking website and a compelling mission:
“Paperbark Literary Magazine is an expression of the intellectual and artistic currents working to shape collective consciousness about issues of sustainability in the information age. Born in New England, Paperbark draws on the unique heritage and culture of the region to support and stimulate creative engagement with progressive ideas. Rooted in themes of stewardship, innovation, and possibility, Paperbark’s content is motivated by a desire to trace the connections between science, culture, and sustainability. Paperbark lives at the confluence of imagination and critical inquiry, and is an integral tool for the promotion of sustainability initiatives on the University of Massachusetts campus. The magazine strives to illuminate the impacts of human society while nurturing our intrinsic capacity to catalyze positive change.”
Check them out. Send them love!
One of the harder things about writing (the business, not the craft) is all the time it takes to research all the markets that might want your work. Finding them, reading them, formatting your submission just so (every time). This takes time. Depending on where you’re at in your creative arcs and cycles, that might be time away from writing and revision.
I tend not to start submitting until I’m sick of a piece, until I’ve taken it as far as I can. A good rule of thumb might be not to submit something while you’re still in love with it. Wait until you fall in love with it again.
All of this is easier said than done.
A good click-bait title for this post would be “How to Submit to Literary Journals.”
There’s submission as in here, I’ve worked hard on this, as have the 9000 other poets and writers you’ve heard from this week this month this year. Maybe you’ll like it?
Then there’s submission as in okay fine I’ll just write what I think you want to publish.
This is not a racket for instant gratification, you know?
Like most necessary things, writing is hard. Communicating mental images or flashes of memory or triggering smells with tools that are, themselves, none of those things, takes work. Doing so in ways that makes sense not just to you but also to readers takes even more work.
I submitted some things to a great journal a few months ago. Even though the work I shared wasn’t ultimately accepted, I’m quite pleased with the feedback. Having given myself some time and space, I’ve come back to the piece they particularly liked with new eyes and ears. (Revision is always, literally, re-seeing. But it’s also re-listening and re-hearing.)
I greatly appreciate what the editor here is saying, and the time he took to say it, and the time he and the rest of the team take thinking deeply on these things:
We are writing with mixed news. While we are not accepting these poems, your submission made it through multiple editorial rounds. We particularly enjoyed “[title redacted]” with its exploration of anxiety and attempts at self-soothing. Our main concern, ultimately, was that there were moments when the piece felt too expository. We’d love to see the entire piece rooted in the wild imagery of the last third of the poem.
We recognize how much talent and skill went in to your submission, but we can only publish a small percentage of the work we receive. In the final round of selections, we start looking for the smallest of reasons–reasons in line with our own personal tastes–to reject a manuscript. This part of the process, we understand, is so very subjective. So we want you to know that while we are not accepting this manuscript, we were pleased with your submission, it was a joy to read, and we hope we’ll see more of your work in the future.