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i keep (absurdly?) meticulous records of my poems and submissions

This blogpost is a heavy analysis of the records I have been keeping since 2005.

Some of this information might be more interesting after reading this essay on my 2gb flash drive which originally appeared in the comments section of Jordan Castrano’s blog.


I have been keeping records of my poetry submissions since April of 2005. I became a poet earlier than this. Maybe in April of 2004. It took me a year to begin submitting my poetry. The first place I ever submitted a poem to was the American Poetry review, the Cimmarron Review, Meridian, and the New York Quarterly.

I added several other magazines shortly after I received my first rejections. I bought Poet’s Market (that huuuge fucking volume of every poetry “market” in existence.) I believe it was the 2006 volume, although I’m pretty sure I purchased it in the summer of 2005. I submitted anywhere I could find.

My belief was that I would get published simply by having an enormous amount of poems at an absurd amount of different magazines. Journals, we call them, because were literary.

Inside Poet’s Market there was a “guide” to poetry submissions. I read this guide and followed it. It told me to keep records. There was an example record-keeping sheet inside which, presumably, the poet could photocopy in order to keep their records.

foldersI made my own record keeping sheet. It contained a great deal of necessary information. I wanted to make sure I didn’t mess up and send the same poem to an editor twice. I kept track of which magazines allowed simultaneously submissions, which didn’t. I color coded everything. I made myself a key. I kept dates sent, dates response received. I kept track of the date the poem was written. Dates of when the poem was edited.

I had my poems archived on my 2gb flash drive (see previous posts). There were folders inside of folders inside of folders. Everything was organized. Each poem was dated and saved in its appropriate folder. It took me 15 minutes to log in a rejection. I had to log it on my spreadsheet and then move the poem word docs out of folders — from “under consideration” -> “resubmit.”

My spreadsheet was equally as complex:

For the first few years submissions were a huge task for me. It would take me upwards of 2 hours to compile my submission materials. This required deciding where to submit, going over the journal’s guidelines, deciding which poems to send, close reading each poem for typos and mistakes and last minute changes, printing copies of each poem (and removing the date from the end, because each poem was dated with its original date, and each edit as it was edited over time) — For Example:

[sept 15/16 2006—19 dec 2006]

Writing a cover letter, printing and signing the letter. Addressing an overside envelope, fitting all of these poems into the envelope, stamping it, and then finally putting it in the mail. I would send out 2 – 10 submissions at a time. At any given time I had up to 25 submissions out in the publishing world.

It occurs to me now that all these poems were terrible self-righteous, indulgent.

I wasted a lot of my own time and a lot of the editors time.

I stapled each rejection to the wall behind my computer. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of this. It wrapped around the whole corner, from the height of my desk to the ceiling. It was an enormous testament of failure or perseverance. I have them all saved in an envelope now that I have moved.

Some numbers:

798 total submitted pieces (315 unique pieces) submitted to 63 unique magazines yielding a total of 20 total acceptances (18 total publications, 1 pending, 1 never published because journal folded).


Seems intense.


One Comment

  1. Posted 1 April 2010 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    I, too, keep absurdly meticulous records of my poetry and submissions. I have a spreadsheet much like yours. I was pleasantly surprised to know i’m not “crazy.”

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