Talkin’ Poetry

Talkin’ trash here is more like it. So. You know how I’ve been working on poems and flash prose based on my research into my family history? Well, I have been. I’m working toward a chapbook–maybe 25 pieces.

One of my favorites was taken by a new magazine that looked great. They had one issue out with some excellent and even well-known poets, and I loved what I read, so I was excited for the 2nd issue with my poem in it. It was due out in December.

It’s now April and has not yet been published. And they don’t respond to my emails or my tweets.

If they had to fold, I feel bad for them, but it’s so unprofessional to accept work for an issue that will never be and not to notify the writers. I did send an email accepting their acceptance, so am I stuck now with a poem I can’t send out elsewhere?

I say NOT THE CASE. They seem to have broken any possibly contract that could have existed. But I was happy to have half my already-written pieces accepted and now this sets me back. I need another acceptance to catch up to that halfway point ;).

If I’m not going to name the offending journal, I guess I’m not even talkin’ trash, right? I’m just talkin’ poetry.


In 2004 I wrote a poem that took honorable mention in a competition that had an interesting reading venue. The poems that placed or were awarded honorable mentions netted their poets invitations to read at Carnegie Hall.  That impressed me. I always wanted to play Carnegie Hall, but I thought you had to be a musician! I was not able to attend, sadly, and that meant that somebody else read this poem on my behalf.

Super Nova


After the fires came mudstorms

Bulldozing bodies into the mix.

Weeks spent crumpling like dying stars,

Families’ children into science,

Into candlelit commiseration.

Pressure builds in a cauldron

With boiling tar, the three virtues tied

To a wheel and beaten with rods.

Small skulls of infants and bonobos

Commix in the pasteurized fields.

These offerings burst into flame

Larger than Santorini.

Rebuilding over brick, concrete, bones.

And the moon moves farther from us.

The event that inspired the poem was a horrific mudslide in San Bernardino County on Christmas 2003. Nine children and five adults were killed as they ate their holiday luncheon.


Weirdly, although it’s National Poetry Month, I picked my memoir manuscript back up last week. I feel a little split down the middle . . . .

Handsome (and mild-mannered) Rex dreams of a loving home in Arizona

@ Home Fur Good


Filed under #AmWriting, Flash Nonfiction, Literary Journals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry reading, Publishing, Writing, Writing Talk

38 responses to “Talkin’ Poetry

  1. Perhaps the first issue didn’t do well enough for a second issue? If they let everyone go, there may be no one to notify but you’d think someone would have done that anyway. Just not professional but it’s a tough business.

    • Yes, it’s very unprofessional. Their website is still up and so is their twitter. It’s as if they abandoned their house with food on the table haha.

  2. Very serious post, I feel bad for broken promises/contracts. I also was sad but impressed with your memorial of the tragedy.

    • The tragedy was so horrific. It’s hard to believe it happened and nobody talks about it any more. But there are so many tragedies . . . .

  3. These tragedies are hard enough to look at on the news clips, but the real experience must be something you could never get out of your head if you survived it. I remember the news of a brush fire in Calif. where houses were lost. A fireman held up a dead burned cat that looked just like one of my cats. That image has stayed with me all these years. It was so shocking and sad. And then there are the people who suffered too.
    As for your poem in the magazine, I know the feeling. I had the same thing happen with an article I wrote. They printed it but had a major upheaval in the partnership and I never got paid.

    • That stinks that you didn’t get paid! And after you kept up your side of the contract, too, and allowed them to print it!
      Why in the world did that fireman hold up a dead cat? he probably traumatized thousands of people. Think of the children that saw it! And for anybody who has lost a human family member that way now they know what they look like after death in a fire. He probably got fired after that!

      • I think the media were out for sensationalism, the fireman was probably numb with the things he’d just seen, and many viewers like me will never forget running out of the room crying. I never saw that part of the news story after that. They must have cut it. But really, it was awful.

  4. That’s a bit of a pickle , Luanne, but it sounds to me like any traces of the journal and website etc will vanish pretty soon. Surely that would free you up again.
    Well done on such a powerful poem.

    • I think you are right about the vanishing haha. We live in an age of quick erasure ;). Thank you so much about the poem. I was so moved by that tragedy. The mud was so swift and horrific.

  5. Ugh. I’m sorry you’re experiencing this.

    • Thanks, it sounds like others have had this happen, too. I guess it goes with the poetry territory? Hope your weekend is a good one.

  6. Sounds like you are in a tippy place — — like on one of these inverted balance balls. May stability return, with contracts fulfilled.

  7. That’s awful, Luanne, to have your hopes up like that, and then for them to vanish. It is very unprofessional. If you didn’t have an actual signed contract, and they haven’t responded to your repeated attempts to contact them, then I don’t see how you’re bound to them.
    But your poem getting to play Carnegie Hall (even though it went without you)–how exciting!

    Rex is so cute! I hope he finds a home soon!

    • Poor Rex got ringworm. Ugh, there must be spores floating through the roaming room. He’s in ISO now, and I feel so bad for him. It’s a lonely room. There is one other cat in there with him right now.
      Thank you re that–yes, I’ve tried over and over to reach them. That seems a break in the relationship right there.
      I really wanted to read in Carnegie Hall. It seemed so cool. But it was not to be. I had a lot of Momming to do at the time.

  8. There must be an acceptable time period beyond which if you don’t hear back from a magazine, you can submit the work somewhere else. That’s a hard spot to be in, for sure.

  9. Excellent poem, and you surely can’t be held to that contract

    • Ah thanks, Derrick. It was such a horrific and sad event in southern California. So many lives lost and the mud came so quickly and covered all, as if they had never been there. Thanks for your opinion about the contract, too. That is my impression . . . .

  10. They sound very unprofessional…perhaps that may be why they’re not around. I’d give them a few more months and then resubmit elsewhere. Keeping your poem hostage is uncool.

  11. This has always pissed me off…you can’t submit your work while some magazine has first rights or whatever they call it, then they sit on it for years. I agree with you – NOPE.

    • Thank you! It’s ridiculous! I know that I do a lot of work for free. Maybe that is stupid of me, but sometimes it has to do with ethics and sometimes other reasons. There is no reason somebody couldn’t even have sent a mass mailing to the writers whose work they had already accepted. It would have taken 15 minutes TOPS.

  12. Luanne – So sorry for the disappointment! I have had the same thing occur twice — once long ago, and then last year. Frustrating! Great chapbook idea. 🙂

    • Really? I hope it wasn’t the same place! The poem was actually one I read at the reading you put together in Redlands :)! I’m so glad you like the chapbook idea. At first I thought maybe I was the only person who thought it was a good idea! BTW, son and his fiancee (I don’t use their names on the blog) set a date today woohoo!

  13. That happened to me with a story Luanne – and there was no contact again from the magazine despite queries – very frustrating. But it’s great that you’ve made progress with the chapbook and have those other acceptances.

    • Isn’t that just crazy that somebody can take on that responsibility and then just drop it when the magazine folds? I don’t understand that. I would never act that way. Thanks about the chapbook and all, Andrea! I keep plugging along ;). Hope your weekend is a lovely one!

  14. Wow! Sorry to hear about this. I’m not sure, but I doubt if you have any binding responsibilities at this point. Keep us posted, Luanne. 🙂

    • That’s what I am thinking–that they can’t take my poem and fold and keep the poem. If the magazine is folded there is no entity, right? And the deal was that the poem would be published in issue 2. Ugh. I wish they would just send a mass email.

  15. I had a journal who accepted a story then never corresponded with me again and never published the story; they definitely stayed in business. I had another journal who never returned multiple emails after accepting my essay . . . then more than a year later the most beautiful journal appeared in my mailbox with my story in it. (No, I didn’t send it out elsewhere because times just sort of slipped by). I love literary journals, but many of them did not live up to my former-lawyer expectations for doing business. And I love the other poem!

    • It’s so unprofessional, yikes. And a big sigh. What a lovely surprise though when your piece turned up in the beautiful journal. Some of the easiest journals to work with, in my limited experience, are the ones where there is an editor who takes a strong hand with the whole process. Thank you so much about the poem.

  16. Loved your poem, Super Nova! And I would argue you should go ahead and send your other poem out. You might email the journal one last time and let them know, just so you can say you gave them notice. It may be the way of literary journals to pass away unexpectedly, but etiquette shouldn’t go too. I learned a hard lesson when I purchased a few copies of a journal in which I had a bit of fiction published. Never got the print copies (not sure if the online version is still available; I think it was at the time). The editor (herself a writer and someone trying to manage several projects at once) got derailed by a life event. Popped up again a few months later with promises to print the issues and then went under again. I want to support small ventures but this left me rather skeptical.

    • Yeah, it is disheartening to have that happen! Especially after you “lose” your piece, but also shell out money!!!!! Thank you so much re “Super Nova”!

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