Editors Talk Poetry Acceptances: Don Share, Poetry

As a platform for emerging poets, our mission is to provide practical help for serious writers. The community lifts itself up together or not at all. In that light, we’ve been asking some great editors from around the literary community for their frank thoughts on why poems may get accepted/rejected from their own slush pile of submissions, and what poets can do to better their chances. Today, we’re speaking with Don Share, Editor of Poetry.


From a craft standpoint, what causes you to accept a poem?

Don Share: I don’t worry about craft as such as a specific criterion. Instead, I think about whether or not a poem succeeds on its own terms – formal and otherwise – and I consider how it might be in dialogue with other works constructed in more or less analogous ways. Beyond that, poems that subvert conventional notions of technique can be exhilarating and illuminating, witty, and even monumental – many of the best poems are slippery, in formal terms.


What advice do you have for new poets who are submitting work?

Don Share: Be as generous in your approach to sending things out as you’d like editors to be in reading your work. When the response is disappointing, keep trying, without rancor or invidiousness. We may not keep your work, but it means something to us. Always assume that there’s good faith on the editorial side, and bring good faith of your own to the table.

I’d also suggest that you don’t send work you think, for some reason, that we or I might like; don’t worry about that, just send the very best work you can.


If there were one craft technique that you wish poets would focus on, what would it be?

Don Share: Try to be the best first reader of your own work!


How many rejections have you faced and how do you deal with them?

Don Share: I get rejected just like everybody else; and there are times, given my job, that people are harder on my work than they would be otherwise. But it’s all good. In the end, if one’s work has any worth it will eventually find the right readers.


Does your publication seek out specific styles or aesthetics of poetry that writers submitters should know about?

Don Share: No, and fortunately, the mission of Poetry magazine, as articulated by its founder Harriet Monroe 105 years ago, specifically states that we must be beholden to no one style or school of writing or set of aesthetics.


What book of poetry / craft would you always recommend to new poets?

Don Share: I resist the idea that there might be any one book for me to recommend authoritatively. Happily, poets new and old find books just fine on their own!


Who reads submissions at Poetry?

Don Share: Christina Pugh and I read every submission, and we’re assisted by Holly Amos and Lindsay Garbutt. Fred Sasaki looks at visual poems. There are no interns or other readers here: every single poem sent to Poetry is read by an editor whose name is on the masthead. And we get about 150,000 poems a year!



Don Share is the editor of Poetry.  His most recent books are Wishbone (Black Sparrow), Union (Eyewear), and Bunting’s Persia (Flood Editions); he has also edited a critical edition of Basil Bunting’s poems published by Faber and Faber, a Times (London) Book of the Year, and is now editing Bunting’s prose. His translations of Miguel Hernández, awarded the Times Literary Supplement Translation Prize and Premio Valle Inclán, were published in a revised and expanded edition by New York Review Books, and also appear in an earlier edition from Bloodaxe Books.  His other books include Seneca in English (Penguin Classics), Squandermania (Salt), and The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of POETRY Magazine (University of Chicago Press), co-edited with Christian Wiman, a sequel to which, Who Reads Poetry, was just published.  His work at Poetry has been recognized with three National Magazine Awards for editorial excellence from the American Society of Magazine Editors, and a CLMP (Community of Literary Magazines and Presses) “Firecracker” Award for Best Poetry Magazine.  He received a VIDA “VIDO” Award for his “contributions to American literature and literary community.”

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