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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Going Postal with Poetry

Most poets like to email a batch of poems to an editor because, duh, it’s fast and free. Although email guarantees you an instantaneous submission, that does not guarantee your poems will be read any sooner. Nor will your poems be taken more seriously than, say, that of someone who cares enough to send their very best work first class with an adequately stamped SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) for its return.

Other problems with emailing often arise too. For instance:

Email from an unknown source (meaning you) may be treated by the editorial department as Junk Mail or, worse, Spam.

Competition increases because, yeah, it’s fast and free to submit poems by email, so everyone does it – even non-poets!

Some editors rarely check their email.

Most editors do not want to print out the very poems that poets used to print for them.

Some poets have word processing software that is not compatible with whatever the editor has, so file attachments may not open correctly.

Some editors do not want to open any attachment from anyone.

Copying and pasting poems into the body of your plain text email will resolve the last couple of issues, but then your layout might be lost or skewed.

Conversely, when you carefully type your eye-pleasing format for each page of the poems you send through the p.o., you can be assured that what you see is what I get.

When I critique a manuscript, provide a poetry consultation, or edit someone’s poems, I like a hands-on approach that allows me to carry your sheaf of poems around with me and up-put with a “good read” instead of sitting all day at this computer.

I also find I quickly catch mistakes on paper but may be blinded by glare or pixels in editing on-screen. Penciled notes in paper margins can be erased, clich├ęs circled, and arrows added to point to this or that, so critiques usually receive more detailed comments than I can figure out how to give, say, with the editorial features in Word.

As I leave the editorial side of my desk today to go back to my poet’s corner, I will still email some of my own submissions, especially when I send a batch of 3 to 5 poems to an e-zine or online journal. Presumably they have set up their offices to receive poetry this way, so will probably handle my work and yours with maximum efficiency.

I wonder, though, if the poems will be read as quickly as they were sent. Since poetry needs to be read aloud and savored, a snail-pace might be just fine. Besides, I would really like to help keep our local post office in business for as long as I can.

[If you would like a poetry consult, critique, or poetry edit, leisurely visit The Poetry Editor website for more information – http://www.thepoetryeditor.com. ]

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