It’s true – our fall issue reading period was scheduled to run until September 15 OR until we had enough good work to fill the issue. Guess what? We got tons of good work and were able to fill our issue more quickly than we imagined. Breathing room for all is the happy result as we move into our production phase. We appreciate all the poets who submitted work to us and are stunned by the overwhelming response to our special crone-themed category that asked for work celebrating aspects of being older, wiser, braver, and the many other wonderful things about crones from women poets over 50. We were very interested in pieces that did not conform to stereotypes.
And that leads us to a few things we’d like to share about the pieces that were rejected this reading period.
We noticed that there were several submissions in our special category that focused only on the poet being an over-50 female. Being part of a demographic is not the same as writing to a theme. If a piece came into that special category without being connected to the theme, it got rejected even if the poet was in the demographic we sought. There were some good pieces in that group, pieces that we might have considered as general submissions for another issue if they had come to us that way. It saddened us that this was the case so often and we thought it would be good to point that out here. Poets, be very careful when you are asked to write to a theme that also asks for work from a specific demographic. You have to hit both marks to make it work.
And, among those that didn’t really stick to the theme, we noticed a lot of work about loss, abuse, failure, fear. We get a lot of poetry about loss in general, and we have gotten very picky about that. Writing about loss needs to have a bit of hope woven into it, or a bit of internal change that happens as a result of loss – something that the reader can grab onto. Pieces that wallow in loss become difficult for anyone to read all the way to the end. If you are a poet who writes about loss, ask yourself what you hope the piece will eventually do for you and for your readers. Leave some breathing room, some glimmer of light that provides a way out.
Another thing we noticed was that there were many pieces that did, indeed, celebrate aspects of aging but they missed the mark as far as steering clear of stereotypes. Aging is a complicated process, different for everyone even as women over 50 share many aspects. When it came to celebrating memories, several pieces focused on the late Sixties, a time period that has been done almost to death. We kept asking ourselves, as we read the work, what might be celebrated here that is unique? Or that is universal, but the narrator’s take on it is a little different? What is being presented as joyful but is a cliché? What memories connect to this moment in a positive, joyful, meaningful way? Do grandmothers, for example, have to be defined in relation to their grandkids, or can they take the idea of grandmother and breathe new life into it? What is funny about this whole aging thing? What is dignified about it? What has emboldened women of a mature age? What older woman believes it when someone tells her she has become irrelevant? You get the idea.
Finally, we noticed that we received submissions in both categories that were out of season. We pay a lot of attention to the seasonal feel of the pieces we accept and, if a piece sent to us for the fall issue feels like summer or spring, we must – and do – reject it. We’ve consistently published work that fits the season in which the issue appears and don’t plan on changing that about our journal.
There are other reasons, of course, for rejecting some of the poems that come to us, and most of those have to do with the work not fitting the aesthetics of Gyroscope Review. We want you to know that we read everything. We considered everything. We looked for gems. Each poem that comes to us is handled with care and respect.
We hope that this post helps future poets figure out whether their work fits here, and encourages more attention to the details in our guidelines, seasonality, special themes, and work that has previously appeared in our pages. Part of our job as editors is encouragement and education around submissions from poets everywhere. We hope we’ve done well by you.
Our next reading period opens on October 1, 2018. We are looking for pieces for our Winter 2019 issue, so if you write poems with a seasonal bent, think of winter after the holiday season. Remind yourself what we are looking for by reading our guidelines HERE.
We hope your summer is going swimmingly. Ours just got better now that the work on our Summer Issue is complete. This issue makes us happy for a lot of reasons: great poets who share their work with us, a cover that showcases a white line print done by our very own Constance Brewer, and a nice new font to give us an updated look. The issue has a summer feel from start to finish, with poems that evoke the pleasures of the season: skinny dipping, filmy dresses, canoeing, gardening, travel. There are other topics addressed between summer moments, too, and we hope you get a copy of this issue as soon as possible so you can see for yourself. Pour yourself something cold to drink, take off your shoes, and settle into a nice hammock with our print edition. Or, if that’s not in the budget, you can find a PDF version on our Issues page on this site.
While you’re settled in your hammock, you might find a moment to consider whether you have any work of your own you would like to send out into the world. Are you a contemporary poet? Submissions for our Fall Issue are open July 1 – September 15, or until we have enough submissions to fill an issue. This is a new way for us to take submissions; once the issue is full, we will close submissions even if it’s not quite September 15 yet.
Why the change? We’ve seen an increase in submissions this year. Because we have a small staff, we have to be smart about how we manage to get everything read and evaluated in a fair, reasonable way. After a couple of reading periods that found us scrambling to get everything done at the close of submissions, we decided a change was needed. And this is it. So, get your submissions in early if you want a space in the fall issue and any issues after that.
There is one more bit of news about our Fall Issue. We decided to open a themed category alongside our regular submissions. The theme is The Crone. If that puts images in your head of an old witch stirring stuff in a cauldron, let us gently move that idea out of the way. Here’s what we are thinking: Women poets over the age of 50 are underrepresented in poetry publications. But they shouldn’t be; women over 50 have a breadth and depth of experience, knowledge, and wisdom to celebrate. So we want to hear from poets who identify as women and are over 50. We want you to shake things up, make us rethink your demographic, let us share your magnificence with the world. Same rules apply here for submissions; the category will close when the issue is full or on September 15, whichever comes first.
Happy submitting! But first, happy reading.
Happy New Year! Yes, we are still saying that because 2018 is off to such a great start here at Gyroscope Review. Our Winter Issue is now available, with our first-ever hand-drawn cover created by co-editor Constance Brewer.
The poets included in this issue include Alex Apuzzo, Jerrice J. Baptiste, Lizzie Bradley, Sylvia Cavanaugh, Wanda Morrow Clevenger, Diana Cole, Jin Cordaro, Maureen Daniels, T.M. De Vos, Catherine Edmunds, Joanne Esser, Samara Golabuk, Kate Hutchinson, Samantha Jacobs, Oonah Joslin, Mike Jurkovic, Steve Klepetar, Tricia Knoll, Sandra Kohler, Lenny Lianne, Laurinda Lind, Andy Macera, Peter Arvan Manos, Diane G. Martin, Sarah Merrow, Lyndi Bell O’Laughlin, Carl “Papa” Palmer, Irena Pasvinter, Adam Prince, Rush Rankin, henry 7. reneau, jr., Joni Renee, stephanie roberts, Bruce Robinson, Jen Sage-Robison, Matthew W. Schmeer, Ronald E. Shields, Samuel Son, Paul Strohm, Ed Werstein, Bill West, and Laura Madeline Wiseman.
Print copies are available for purchase HERE.
Kindle copies are available for purchase HERE.
As always, our PDF version is available HERE.
Spread the word!
But wait – that’s not all.
We have two calls for submissions open for our Spring 2018 issue. One is our general submissions category and the other is a themed category in honor of our third anniversary issue. The theme is “threes”. Please follow the links to our submissions system HERE for further information. Both categories will remain open until March 15.
Finally, we extend a warm welcome to our new staff member, assistant editor Joshua A. Colwell. He joins us with plenty of experience working for small publications, an interest in writing, and a keen eye to finding just the kind of poetry we love here at Gyroscope Review: modern verse with plenty of bite. Josh is taking over our Twitter feed, so now’s the time to start following us if you haven’t already. We’re really glad he’s here. You can read more about him in our masthead.
by Kathleen Cassen Mickelson, Gyroscope Review Editor
Who hasn’t been inspired by other writers, memorized lines that break our hearts open, been jealous of another writer’s way of ordering words and making stanzas that enhance meaning beyond expectations?
For me, lines from Shakespeare got my attention in middle school when I thought sonnets were the most romantic of art forms:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark…..
-Shakespeare’s Sonnet CXVI
See what I did there? I quoted Shakespeare and noted which of his sonnets those lines came from. Yes, you’re thinking, of course you noted which sonnet because that’s what a writer does to cite a reference in an article, to give credit to a source.
We all know that. But what about when we take liberties as poets who might use earlier works to fuel our own? What about something like this:
My marriage was not one of true minds.
O, no! it was not an ever-fixed mark
as my divorce lawyer surely knew.
Anyone who is familiar with Shakespeare’s sonnets would recognize the references here and can see that Shakespeare was not quoted directly, but his sonnet certainly informed this example – something I whipped up just for this article, by the way. A parody of sorts. Or partial parody. And if I developed this into a finished poem, would I need to cite Shakespeare?
Not necessarily. Such a well-known poet’s influence is widely understood and adds a layer to poems that riff on that influence. Poetry is an art form that often builds on what came before. But if I quoted an entire stanza that Shakespeare originally wrote, I would absolutely cite where that came from. And, if I didn’t cite it, surely hordes of fellow English majors would remind me from whom I was stealing.
Yes, stealing. To use someone else’s words as part of your poetry and not cite that someone else is stealing. There’s another word for that: plagiarism.
Go to www.plagiarism.org, and you’ll find this under, “Plagiarism 101: What is Plagiarism?”:
ALL OF THE FOLLOWING ARE CONSIDERED PLAGIARISM:
•turning in someone else’s work as your own
•copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
•failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
•giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
•changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
•copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on “fair use” rules)
What the site refers to is the definition of plagiarism under US law, which is what Gyroscope Review, as an American journal, follows.
And why are we talking about this today? Because every once in a while, we receive a submission that we like and then discover through Google-checking that part of the piece is actually someone else’s uncredited work. And that is a huge disappointment because we realize a poet has either been careless in their submission or they’ve misrepresented their work to us.
Either way, that poem is rejected. We will send the submitter the link where we found the words that also appeared in someone else’s work. And we are unlikely to seriously consider anything else that submitter sends us. Ever.
In a recent case that happened here, the submitter borrowed from a poet who isn’t as well-known as Shakespeare, so the piece very nearly slipped through. When we told the submitter what we’d found, that person did not respond. We figured that might be the case. And, honestly, we have no way of knowing for sure who borrowed from whom unless we do further research; we can only guess based on the submitter’s history here versus the status of the other poet who happens to be widely published in this country. But our disappointment remains and we stay awake at night wondering what it is that causes a writer to borrow lines without attribution.
And then we write articles like this one.
The writing community is both large and small – large, in that an incredible number of people write poetry and share it; small, in that editors talk to each other and remember repeat submitters as well as any random offenders.
So, dear poets, please be generous in your sharing of poetry while being equally generous in your acknowledgement of your fellow writers. Cite your sources, influences, and borrowed lines that have set your hearts aflame. Otherwise, those flaming hearts are going to be doused by the firehose of rejection.
UPDATE ON OUR PRINT EDITION
We have our winter issue currently under review at CreateSpace and are very close to being able to offer it for sale. We will have a special announcement as soon at it’s ready! Thank you for your patience.
Thank you, too, for all of you who submitted work for our spring anniversary issue.