Straight Forward ~ a poetry journal publishes poetry of any length and form. The editors look for poetry that is clear and honest. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
LLS: For our poetry submissions I first look for pieces that are clear on the surface. If readers can’t get into the poem then they won’t enjoy the deeper meaning. After being clear, the poems do have to have more than just surface meaning. It is also a plus that the author is really nice to work with. I am game to offer edits on pieces, and I do like to be in contact with our accepted authors, so being generally jolly doesn’t hurt one bit.
If you’re talking photography, essays, or guest blog posts, I look for things that are attention getting, polished (but not necessarily perfect) and that embrace the simplicity is beauty idea that I am attached to.
SQF: What are the top three things that turn you off to a submission and why?
LLS: Our goal is to publish clear poetry, so any submission that goes out of its way to be needlessly convoluted will be shown the door. Any author that submits their entire manuscript, expecting me to read it and pick out the best, will get a rejection letter as well. I also have a really strange bias against bird poetry. Most bird images come off as cliché to me, so I tend to pass on poems that rely to heavy on birds.
SQF: What advice can you offer new authors hoping to publish their first submission?
LLS: Well there are two things that I have noticed that newer writers do. First, they seem to bury their better poems at the end of their submissions. Hit an editor up front with your best work, since they might not read all the way to the end. Also, don’t over explain everything, and don’t include some lengthy cover letter.
Beyond that, please use common sense. Don’t submit in crazy giant fonts, or with unusual formatting.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
LLS: We haven’t yet, but we have been asked. In the future it may be something that we will start doing.
SQF: What do you consider to be the primary responsibilities of an editor?
LLS: To find and nurture the best work, plain and simple. I also think that, if an editor accepts something, they should do their best to promote it. I strongly dislike the idea of beautiful poetry wasting away in obscurity.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
LLS: Oh geez. I’m not sure. No one ever seems to ask what poem I’ve published that I love the most. Maybe people don’t ask because, like kids, your shouldn’t have favorites. Either way, I think the poem that I am the most attached to that we recently published is “Her Ear” by Paul Hostovsky.
Thank you, Lindsey. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
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