Tuesday 30 June 2020

A submission schedule for the rest of 2020

The second half of the year seems to have fewer competition and magazine-window opportunities for me. Here they are -

Wednesday 10 June 2020


I like Spelk. It's been going since September 2014. It prints 3 Flashes (max 500 words) a week. It allows comments and "likes". I suspect the stories are read by quite a few people.

Amongst the contributors are Angela Readman, Carrie Etter, Gary Duncan, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Meg Pokrass, Michael Loveday, Paul Beckman, Robert Scotellaro, and Sandra Arnold. It has 3 pieces in Wigleaf's list of 50 best flashes this year.

I suggest you dip in and have a look around. There are links to all the stories on the front page. The Nominations page picks out some highlights.

Tuesday 2 June 2020

Prose/Poetry - ten comments

  1. Most of the time I don't classify texts - I just read and enjoy them.
  2. If I buy a novel and it turns out to be haiku, I'd ask for my money back. If I enter a poetry competition and the winning entry looks like a Daily Mirror sports report I'd be grumpy.
  3. Judging by many book lovers I know, the poetry/prose divide matters. Even experienced prose readers/writers often can't abide poetry. In books with mixed poetry and prose (John Updike wrote one) half the book would be waste of money for them.
  4. Conventionally, if people have to classify a text as prose or poetry, they look at the vocabulary, sound effects, shape on the page, discontinuities, length etc. Clearly there are grey areas, and the classification shifts over the centuries, but for many texts the classification is clear enough.
  5. People often classify so that they know how to interpret the text. Poetic features lend themselves to a poetry mode of reading - tolerance of ambiguity, awareness of linguistic effects etc.
  6. When an author asserts that a text is "Poetry", the reader's likely to start reading it in a "poetry-reading" mode. If they discover that reading it that way is inappropriate, they might shift their approach, wondering what the author's game is. If they're a poetry judge, they might play safe and reject the piece categorically.
  7. In the last decade or so, there's been an increasing amount of outlets for short texts, bridging the gap between prose and poetry. 20 years ago, a short anecdotal piece with a moral twist at the end had to be presented as a free-form poem to get published. Now we have Flash, etc. In the past anything with a form (e.g. abcedarian, shopping list) or a "Found" piece could only be published as a poem. That's no longer true.
  8. Poetry magazines are more open to poetry-without-linebreaks than they used to be. And it seems to be a rule for debut collections that they should contain at least one piece without line-breaks.
  9. Book classifications are looser now. Novels like Max Porter's "Grief is the thing with Feathers" has many poetic aspects (indeed, I'd say it was more poetic than Rankine's "Citizen", that won poetry prizes). Saunders' novel "Lincoln in the Bardo" has passages of multiple, unattributed voices.
  10. Consequently nowadays writers have more freedom, and readers need to be more agile. With freedom come responsibility. For example, I think there's less excuse for producing texts that look like "prose with line-breaks". And readers are less likely to give poetic license to a work which though presented as poetry, seems to be like prose - they're likely to switch to a prose mode of interpretation. Experimental poetry may be fairly mainstream literary prose.