Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine publishes all forms of poetry and fiction to 1000 words. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Sam Rose: I used to frequent an online forum called The Young Writers Society (YWS), and the owner Nate created a journal, which was open to submissions from the YWS community. He used Lulu.com for this and as they are a print-on-demand operation, it occurred to me that I could do something similar. It seemed like it would be a lot of fun to read people's submissions, choose the best ones and put a book together. That's when I started my old literary magazine Blinking Cursor. I stopped Blinking Cursor after a few issues, as I felt I didn't have enough time for it. But months later I sat at my desk at my day job doodling, and I drew something that sort of looked like a cat peering around a wall. A peeking cat, you might say. That was when the logo for the magazine was created, and, missing the fun of creating and editing a magazine, I started up again with a new venture. Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine in July 2013.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
SR: The first thing I look for is someone who has followed the guidelines. It sounds really boring and obvious, but I do get sent odd things, for example reams and reams of poetry - basically someone sending me an entire book of poetry, when I only want three pieces. Or stories that are over the word limit, or sent as a PDF so I can't paste them into a document. Having to chase people for their bios once they've been accepted isn't ideal either, so I can't stress how important it is to follow the guidelines. There aren't that many of them.
The second thing I look for in a submission is poetry with feeling. I like something I can relate to, something that pulls me in emotionally.
I don't look for much specific in terms of content or style, though I suppose I do favour the contemporary, and free verse. Good spelling and grammar is a must - it's fair enough that poetry challenges ordinary rules of grammar, but the wrong spelling of a word, or apostrophes missing, or typos, just makes it look like someone's hammered out their submission in five minutes and doesn't really care about it. And if they don't care about it, why should I? So I'd say take care, and proofread!
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
SR: Forced rhyming. Bad poems about cats. I do accept good cat poems and stories - I've published a few of them. But I don't know if some people assume I only want poems about cats - that's not the case at all, and a quick skim of one of the issues will prove that. I'll accept a poem or story if it's good - cats or no cats! I'd rather not receive a poorly-written poem just for the sake of it being about a cat.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
SR: No. Sometimes if I'm absolutely blown away or want to comment on something in particular, I'll add an extra line or two in my reply when I accept something. I think if I feel that strongly it's always nice to brighten someone's day with a compliment. But generally I just send a standard reply, whether accepting or rejecting. It would be great to be able to comment on everything, but I work my day job full time and am studying for my MA Creative Writing part time - unfortunately there are only so many hours in the day!
SQF: You recently published the first issue of The Creative Truth (http://creativetruthjournal.tumblr.com/). How is this different from PCPM?
SR: The Creative Truth publishes non-fiction rather than poetry and fiction. My aim with TCT is more along the lines of personal essays and memoirs - I want to know about difficulties people have overcome, about pivotal points in their lives, and how they have been shaped by their experiences. I want to know their deep feelings or even secrets, and they can wrap these up in however much truth or embellishment they feel comfortable with. While PCPM is mostly poetry, TCT is all about truth and empathy. And because of that it's even more of a privilege to be able to read the work people submit. I really appreciate everything that people choose to share with me.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
SR: Another question I'd like to answer would be "What should writers do in their cover letters when they submit to you?" And I would say that a cover letter doesn't have to be long, or list all your great achievements. I'm more bothered about the quality of your work than how many other magazines you've been published in or any prizes you've been nominated for. But please at least say hello to me! Sometimes submissions come through with no cover letter at all, and just poems sent as attachments. So please send a bio in your cover letter as requested in the guidelines, and say hello! It's not difficult to find out my name - 'Dear sirs' is fine I guess, but it doesn't take long to research and find out I'm not a sir. Saying 'Hello, my name is Hamish, please find my submissions attached and a bio below' is all it takes. Much better than saying nothing at all!
Thank you, Sam. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.