Have questions about the submission and editing process? Duotrope reached out to M. Wilder for some insight. Feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have.
Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
Light and dark coexists
If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A list of writing we love can be found at the bottom of our Submit page. We love Ocean Vuong, Kim Addonizio, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Andrea Gibson, Safia Elhillo, CA Conrad, and Richard Siken, among others. These poets create rooms out of their stanzas, holding beauty and pain in one hand.
What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
We strive to create space to amateur and untraditional poets, as well as the traditional, straddling the barrier between academia and street poetry. Life is not tied into complete, neat bows, and neither are our art; we want reality, to force light and darkness to coexist or at least sit beside each other in the same space. Show us what makes you both happy to be alive, and recognize the discomfort in being human. Stay true, be authentic.
What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
Get uncomfortably honest. Trust in your humanity and in our space to provide support and validation to both your simplest joys and strangest shames. We are a publication for very real people, if you are willing to get real and create spaces with your work for readers to step into.
Describe the ideal submission.
The ideal submission is a poem, piece of prose, or art piece that makes me want to do a little shimmy or inhale. These works surprise me, yet make the most sense. They create a new space to exist inside, and tint the way I think and see, even if for but a moment. Perhaps they give me butterflies, pushing me to be so in love with the world, or inspire my anger or discomfort. Regardless, these pieces change my posture.
What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
White men sending racist or sexist content. It's a hell no.
How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you? Do you care about cover letters? If so, do lists of previous publication credits matter to you?
Cover letters are important, but not necessary. If your work simply is not a suitable fit, your cover letter will not impact publication, but the willingness to participate in community allows space for dialogue or hope that you try again. Sometimes a kind and open cover letter does signal that I might be able to suggest edits or communicate more fully and clearly, human to human. Previous credits matters little to us. There are many, many brilliant writers who may just be starting their career, or simply have not been given the space to be featured, for many reasons. I want to create a space where all are welcome, no matter their identity, and giving priority to identities who may not experience privilege in taking up space. I want to create space to take up, no matter what spaces have been occupied in the past. I'd be more than happy to be the first title on your list of publication credits.
If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
Sometimes I can tell if a piece is a fit or work of art by the first line. It's happened. Sometimes I don't feel attached to a piece until the very last line... and that too is a powerful piece, to create such a surprise that a piece ripples backwards. I generally read a poem several times; an immediate reaction may be more internal than rooted in the poem. Cliche's are a big turn off; if I hit those speed bumps, I may suggest edits or reject the piece entirely. However, if I'm on the edge about a piece, I will always allow it to ruminate before making any rash decisions.
What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
If I am not entirely sold on a poem, I consider whether the space it creates is new or dense with senses. How does it sound? How does it look? What redeems it? What flaws may be healed over with edits. I rarely suggest edits for poems, but I absolutely love to do so. Working with a writer to explain how to strengthen their work (as a suggestion) feels like such a gift... a way I may be of service and honor someone's work and skills.
I also sometimes consider how pieces I'd like to publish work together; what narrative would be told if I publish these pieces side by side? While this does not always matter, I do think it is an added bonus, proof of a writer's thoughtfulness, to take individual pieces and create a structure, whether this is intentional or not.
What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
Poetry and work by women, POC, and queer folks receive priority. This is somewhat flawed, as one only knows the identity of a creator if it is stated clearly, and we do not want to force anyone to out themselves to us. We read, track everything in a spreadsheet, and reply ASAP. Issues come out when we feel we have enough content, which depends mostly on the time we are able to dedicate to reading submissions.
How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
Modern technologies can, ironically, increase the humanity and accessibility of a journal. Hello, we are people who recognize you as a human behind a screen, and want to foster your story. It's about community and support, rather than keeping our authority hidden and strong behind stiff paper. We want to be accessible.
How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?
This varies completely. I rarely supply edits beyond the basics, unless asked for. We will proof read and copy edit once we transfer pieces to the site, and contributors receive a link before the issue is live, to make sure their piece looks happy and well.
However, providing edits is exciting, valuable, and such a gift. I will suggest edits to pieces I believe in, that I dearly want to thrive. I strive to brighten the writer's voice and intention, and always explain my reasoning to hopefully teach and create a dialogue. Everything is optional. This is a conversation, not a requirement.
Do you nominate work you've published for any national or international awards?
Yes, we nominate for Best of the Net. Otherwise, no, we would if we could! Unfortunately, this costs quite a bit of money, and this is a labor of love that generates no income. I refuse, at this point, to charge for submissions, as this creates a huge barrier against access. If anyone wants to invest in the journal, let me know :)
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