Editors Talk Poetry Acceptances: Jessica Fischoff, [PANK]
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 Jessica Fischoff, Editor of [PANK].
What advice do you have for new poets who are submitting work?
Jessica Fischoff: At [PANK], we look for pieces that are not simply original in voice or content, but know exactly what they are meant to do. Is each word the perfect word to portray the thought? Is the speaker the right choice for best expressing the work? Do lines break where they are the strongest? Is the blank space or playfulness in form adding what it needs to? We look for pieces that are just as strong in the start as the end. We look for pieces that keep us desperately awaiting the next line, that flow succinctly, and that make us take pause when we finish no matter what style or approach.
If there were one craft technique that you wish poets would focus on, what would it be?
I have three pieces of advice I think every new poet should consider. First, familiarize yourself with a publication before submitting work. The more developed a concept a writer has of what an individual publication is looking for, the better grasp a writer has of what fits. Second, make sure that your work is exactly where it knows it needs to be. Edit, explore the artistic choices and be confident that you’ve written the poem to the best of your ability. Third, be fearless. Don’t be upset with a rejection, be patient.
How many rejections have you faced and how do you deal with them?
I stopped counting! I’m constantly sending work out into a world with so many talented and experienced poets and emerging writers that I have no expectations. I know from the backend of a publication how many great pieces exist, so I never take it personally when something I’ve written doesn’t find a home immediately. It just pushes me to continue submitting to the long list of wonderful publications that exist.
Does your publication seek out specific styles or aesthetics of poetry that writers and submitters should know about?
Our mission is posted on our website and I think sums it up best.
“[PANK] Magazine is a literary magazine fostering access to innovative poetry and prose, publishing the brightest and most promising writers for the most adventurous readers. Up country, to the end of the road, to a far shore and the edge of things, to a place of amalgamation and unplumbed depths, a place inhabited by contradiction, quirk and startling anomaly, where the known is made and unmade, and where unimagined futures are born, [PANK].”
What book of poetry / craft would you always recommend to new poets?
I can’t speak highly enough of Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook. It’s honest, approachable, and speaks to writing poetry with the excitement of a good read as is. I suggest it to anyone and everyone I know that wants to start writing poetry. I’ve learned as much from this book as I have in many classes and workshops and constantly reference it as I continue writing.
Jessica Fischoff is the Editor of [PANK]. Her little book of poems, The Desperate Measure of Undoing will be published in the Fall by Across the Margin and is available for presale at: https://acrossthemargin.com/product/desperate-measure-undoing/