This piece was inspired by one of my favorite video games, Zelda: A Link to the Past. You know, the part where you go to the dark world? I've always been fascinated with the concept, the idea that we could have an alternate reality where all our darkest selves live. What would your dark self look like?
This publication feels important for me for several reasons. It's my first speculative poetry sale (!) and it's also part of a historical narrative poetic sequence book of poetry (say that five times fast) I wrote for my Master's thesis. The sequence tells the story of a character that becomes trapped in a cycle of reincarnation. It draws heavily from American history, as the soul travels between different periods in history. Because I wanted to include each aspect of American history, the character in this poem inhabits the life of a slave, after a previous life of freedom. In other lives, the character is a musician, scientist, civil war soldier, and revolutionary. A second poem from this project will be coming out soon, more info to be announced!
I did extensive research for this project, and the poem draws from poetry that was written at the time. A primary influence for the poem is the poet Adah Isaacs Menken, who was a controversial poet and actress, of African American, white, and Creole heritage from New Orleans. Adah died before her book could be published, but her work challenged many ideas of patriarchy at the time. I found Adah's work so fascinating, and her life so interesting, that I couldn't help but weave her work into this piece.
These poems are part of a book-in-progress I'm working on that center on non-traditional ideas of feminism and relationship. I often struggle with the idea of being a woman, a wife, a friend, but also a feminist. I see the things that confine me to these terms, and find myself wondering if it's possible to be all of the above. I think these roles intersect, overlap, but at times pull each other apart.
I'll let you draw your own conclusions about Break of Day, just to say that it's inspired by the Houston oil & gas complex.
Sheaves of Wheat is based upon a painting by Van Gogh, which I first viewed at the Dallas Museum of Art many years ago. It is part of a series of paintings on the same subject, concerning the relationship of nature and man. Here's what Van Gogh had to say on the subject:
"One does not expect to get from life what one has already learned it cannot give; rather, one begins to see more clearly that life is a kind of sowing time, and the harvest is not yet here.“
EDIT: The Last Man on Earth is up at Urban Fantasist / Grievous Angel by Charles Christian
Sheesh, I wasn't kidding about this being a busy month! I just got news that my microfiction The Last Man on Earth is now live at Charles Christian's Urban Fantasist. Charles' kind words about this piece are little pieces of joy I plan on carrying in my pocket. Thanks Charles!
As always, I encourage readers to draw their own conclusions as they read. Poetry is interpretable, and that's the fun of it. I hope you may read these works and enjoy them.
Thanks for reading!
This is a blog post I’ve been thinking about for a while, but in recent weeks it feels even more pressing. Last week I opened the e-mail newsletter for one of my favorite literary journals, Pulp Literature, who has published my work in the past, to find a hidden note about a new policy: Pulp Literature will now be charging a $10 submission fee.
My first reaction? Another one bites the dust. I felt a twinge, like every time I get a rejection letter. This was an outright rejection for me, before even submitting. As a new writer, I struggle with the submission fee conundrum as much as anyone else. I’m a broke poet who volunteers at a local writing center. My ability to pay submission fees is nil. For this reason, I don’t submit to journals that require: 1. Only postal submissions 2. Any fee to submit 3. Most Contests (Don't even get me started on that subject). It’s not that I don’t value those journals, I truly do. One day, I may be able to afford to submit for a fee, but right now it’s not an option.
Multiple writers have written about the quandary of running a small lit journal, where many of the editors are volunteers who don’t get paid, versus the artistic dilemma of paying writers and the fact that many writers don’t make enough money to afford submission fees. Even further, writers are often fighting a culture of exposure – when major publications like Huffington Post can get away with not paying writers. Lit journals argue that the fee is for the service, a “tip jar” so to say (putting aside the fact that most tip jars are optional). The argument can be made that journals have other options besides charging fees. They can choose to accept submissions via email, which requires no charge or just the cost of running their email box, which we can assume they would do anyway. Part of the issue may be the rise of Submittable, who charges fairly high costs for a service that is valuable, but let’s be honest, a monopoly.
I realized no one ever really examines this subject on a detailed level. So I made a breakdown of the top 100 literary journals publishing fiction*. This list shows which journals charge a fee, how much that fee is, and whether they pay contributors. You can read below, and draw your own conclusions, if any can be found from this data.
*This list is graciously supplied by Clifford Garstrang, who gave permission for it to be reprinted in this form. This list focuses on literary genre journals who nominate for the Pushcart Prize, and can be viewed in its full glory at Garstrang’s website.
The top 100 lit journals and their fees:
Note: Asterisks next to fees indicate journals that offer mail submissions as well. Question marks indicate no published information on the journal’s submission guidelines.
A few thoughts I have on the list:
The amount of journals not charging a fee is shrinking. I wish I had made this list last year, but I can tell you I recognize several journals that have added a fee. It is my hope that I can address this list again next year and see if anything has changed.
I’m planning a similar discussion on genre magazines, which is an entirely different category. Many genre journals go about this with a much wiser approach. The comparison between the two is fascinating, so I hope you’ll keep an eye out for that post.
Until then, submit wisely my friends!
Holly Lyn Walrath is a freelance editor and author of poetry, flash fiction, and short fiction. Find her on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath
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Holly Walrath's books on Goodreads
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Our Space: Shorts & Poetry from the Houston Community
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In Medias Res: Stories from the In-Between
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The 2017 Rhysling Anthology: The Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Poetry of 2016 Selected by the Science Fiction Poetry Association
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