Sleet Magazine publishes fiction, flash fiction, poetry, interviews, and irregulars (cross-genre works). Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
- Proficiency—a demonstration of craftsmanship. A poet who pays close attention to the imperatives that guide our art: meter, rhyme scheme, line and stanza breaks, imagery, simile, metaphor, etc.
- A moment of surprise—a line or image that is unexpected. A published poem should contain at least one moment so lovely or unforeseen that the reader must pause and compose his or herself before they continue.
- Risk—a sense of poetic courage, or that the poet has challenged him or herself in order to make their voice unique. There are a lot of poems that sound just like other poems; I prefer a writer who endeavors to make his or her work, or voice, entirely their own.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a submission is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?
- Linear narrative—Poetry can be a story, but not necessarily one with a clean beginning or conclusion; a poem should be less concerned with time than a sense of timelessness. I enjoy poems that don’t answer questions or leave breadcrumbs to follow down the page. I’m not looking for a poet who walks me from point A to B; I want a poet who throws me to that place, or makes me fly.
- Lack of focus—Although I am not looking for clean narrative, I do enjoy poets whose work conveys direction. I don’t need a solution or conclusion, but I do want a poet to point me somewhere.
- Grammar—If a poem has too many grammatical errors, it will be rejected. One, or maybe two, errors are understandable, but a handful suggests a poet who didn’t proofread their work before submitting it to Sleet. Sleet sees a lot of poems, most of which are grammatically correct—be one of those writers.
SQF: Which of the following statements is true and why? Plot is more important than character. Character is more important than plot. Plot and character are equally important.
SQF: What advice can you offer new authors hoping to publish their first submission in Sleet Magazine?
TP: Have enough courage to take one or two risks. I’m interested in work that stands out from the milieu, or mishmash, of poems that all sound and look alike. I am far more predisposed to consider a weaker poem that seems new and fresh than a competent poem that echoes a poem written by another applicant.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
TP: Be distinct. Voice is the element that drives our art; voice is what a reader encounters ahead of image, rhyme scheme, etc. I can attenuate my voice and art so that it joins into the poetic tapestry, or I can create work that engenders surprise and is noticed.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
Thank you, Todd. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 3/26--Six Questions for Kathy McEathron, Fiction Editor, Sleet Magazine