Editors Talk Poetry Acceptances: J.P. Dancing Bear, Verse Daily

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 J.P. Dancing Bear, Editor of Verse Dailey.


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

J.P. Dancing Bear: I wish I had one answer for this, but I don’t. Our tastes range the entire spectrum and if I had to say there was one common thing we look for it might be an economy of words. There’s a happy zone where a poem isn’t oppressed with words and also isn’t starving for words.

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

J.P. Dancing Bear: Embrace rejection, don’t bury them or burn them or blame the editor… learn from them. Go back and read more than one issue. You’ve misunderstood something about what delights the editor. Rejection is a necessary, if not often neglected, tool. If a poem is rejected by more than one editor, you can start to triangulate what is wrong with the poem if you’ve done your homework on the editor..


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

J.P. Dancing Bear: I’m sticking with the economy of words.


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

J.P. Dancing Bear: I’m sure it’s thousands by now. If they don’t send back a personalized note, I might not submit to them for a while, because I have to read more issues, I have to get a better feeling for the editor. A personal note, I will take the time to respond back to, politely. I might wait to do so until I send them another submission (if they’ve asked for one). I will always go back through the submission and read it again, usually out loud. I’m looking for things I missed or things that do not sound right.


What’s the process of finding poems to share on Verse Daily?

J.P. Dancing Bear: I do tend to read poems aloud. For me, it’s the easiest way to narrow the selection. Just as with my own work, I believe most poems want to be performed.


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

J.P. Dancing Bear: That’s really tough, because I have a small “c” catholic taste in poetry so there are so many books that I love and have read repeatedly. I love This Branch Will Not Break by James Wright. CD Wright’s Tremble is another. I’ve read Anne Carson’s Float several times and would recommend it too! But there are so many others!



J.P. Dancing Bear is the author of five full-length books of poems, six chapbook, several essays, and more than 1000 individual poems in such magazines and anthologies as Shenandoah, Mississippi Review, Natural Bridge, DIAGRAM, No Tell Motel, Third Coast, Copper Nickel, Cimarron Review, Poetry East, North American Review, Atlanta Review, Verse Daily, Poetry International, Marlboro Review, Hotel Amerika, Seattle Review, Permafrost, Puerto Del Sol, Controlled Burn, Cranky, Rattle, Americas Review, Slipstream and many others. His work has recently been translated into Chinese.

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