Spring Poetry Lab

Hey poets,

I'm excited to personally invite you to an opportunity that will help your writing, that will show you how to lean into your strengths and teach you to work on your weaknesses.

This has been a long year, and if I've had an abundance of anything, it's been the space to work on my writing—I hope you all have as well! With that in mind, the team at Frontier was inspired to create the Poetry Lab program.

This is an all-online space to get your work read and edited by the very people who either accept/reject poems for a living, or work as faculty at great MFA programs around the country. Our editor-partners have likely published some of your favorite contemporary poets or worked alongside them! They will apply their expertise on your poems—personalized developmental feedback that will help your best poems find their way to the page. These editors receive a significant portion of the Lab fee. We're also doing the most to pack this opportunity with great material!

Working on a chapbook? We're including the digital versions of our own award winning chaps: How Often I Have Chosen Loveby Xiao Yue Shan, Shadow Black by Naima Tokunow (selected by Jericho Brown), In the Year of Our Making & Unmaking by Frederick Speers (selected by Carl Phillips), and Opportunity Cost by Abby Johnson (selected by Kazim Ali), paired with guided learning materials about crafting your chapbook. These books are some of the best things Frontier has ever done—I'm so proud of them. You will learn a lot just by sitting in their worlds.

Want to know why poems get rejected/accepted? After interviewing dozens of editors from your favorite magazines, we've got the answers! Every Lab participant will get over 40 pages of advice from editors we all admire: Poetry Magazine, The New Yorker, Ploushares, Agni, Adroit Journal, and more. The team and I at Frontier are also working on developing the best practical advice for submitting poets, based on the tens of thousands of submissions we've processed over the past several years. We've learned so much about what signals to us that a poem has what it takes to move forward to publication, and we want to share all of it with you.

Want some advice on where else to submit? Let us help—we will send you a dozen great places that could be a good fit for your particular voice. Every participant will get individualized recommendations from our experienced team. Head over to our submittable to participate. Sign up, share up to ten pages of poetry (this will give the editor a broad view of your strengths and weaknesses), and get ready to take your writing seriously.

Best, Josh, Frontier Poetry

PS: If you need an extension on the deadline, please feel welcome to reach out to me at josh@frontierpoetry.com.


Meet The Editors

Jenny Molberg is the author of two poetry collections: Marvels of the Invisible (winner of the Berkshire Prize, Tupelo Press, 2017) and Refusal (LSU Press, 2020). She has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sewanee Writers Conference, Vermont Studio Center, and the Longleaf Writers Conference. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, West Branch, The Rumpus, The Adroit Journal, The Cortland Review, Diode, and other publications. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Central Missouri, where she directs Pleiades Press and co-edits Pleiades magazine. Find her online at jennymolberg.com or on Twitter at @jennymolberg.

Kathleen Volk Miller has written for LitHub, NYT Modern Love, O, the Oprah magazine, Salon, the NYTimes, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Family Circle, Philadelphia Magazine and other venues. She is co-editor of the anthology, Humor: A Reader for Writers (Oxford University Press, 2014). She is co-editor of The Painted Bride Quarterly and co-host of PBQ’s podcast, Slush Pile. She has also published in literary magazines, such as Drunken Boat, Opium, and other venues. She holds “Healing through Writing” workshops, and other memoir classes. She consults on literary magazine start up, working with college students, and getting published in literary magazines. She is a professor at Drexel University.

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.

Mike Good serves as Managing Editor of Autumn House Press. Some of his book reviews have appeared on the The Adroit Journal blog, Full-Stop, Ploughshares blog, Pleiades, and Salamander. His recent poetry can be found in or are forthcoming at Bennington Review, december, Five Points, Ploughshares, Prolit, Salamander, Terrain.org, Waxwing, and elsewhere, in addition to anthologies such as The Pittsburgh Neighborhood Guidebook (Belt Publishing). He has received support from Sewanee Writers' Conference and The Sun, and he holds an MFA from Hollins University.

Chaun Ballard is an affiliate editor for Alaska Quarterly Review, an affiliate reader for Ruminate Magazine, assistant poetry editor for Terrain.org, a graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage, a doctoral student of poetry, and a core faculty member of the Alaska Pacific University MFA Program. Chaun Ballard’s chapbook, Flight, was the winner of the 2018 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize and is published by Tupelo Press. His poems have appeared inNarrative Magazine, Rattle, The New York Times, Terrain.org, Tupelo Quarterly, and other literary magazines. Chaun is the recipient of an Alaska Literary Award. His work has received nominations for Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and Pushcart Prizes.

Submission Guidelines

  • Please submit up to 10 pages of poetry per submission.
  • All genres and all styles are welcome.
  • 4 scholarships will be reserved for BIPOC authors. (As of 4/14/22, all these spots have been filled!)


How much interaction will I have with the editors?

  • Each participant will be assigned one editor who receives their work. For accessibility and convenience, we've designed this program with the aim to be completely asynchronous and digital—you will submit your poems, and the editors will write their feedback and send it back. After that, any continued conversation is at the editor's personal discretion.

How much interaction will I have with the other participants?

  • Entirely up to you! The Lab is designed to be open to complete independence or group participation. After getting your learning materials, you'll be asked if you'd like to join a group to work through them together. The Frontier team will help create the groups according to level of experience and other factors, and then it'll be entirely up to the participants after that to figure out a working schedule and style that makes sense to the group.

Will this help me with my book?

  • Perhaps! But this is not a manuscript editing service. The aim is to provide holistic advice on writing poems through direct personal feedback and a self-guided and rigorous study of the craft.

Will I have to zoom or get on the phone?

  • Nope! This will be handled entirely through submittable. We will send you your packet of lab material soon after you submit. The timing of the feedback depends on the editor availability, but it should not be longer than 8-10 weeks.

Can I purchase a spot for a friend?

  • Yes, please feel welcome. Just make sure to make clear in your cover letter what you're doing and put us in contact with that poet.


Testimonials from our Previous Poetry Labs

"Thank you so much for all of your time on putting this together! I got great feedback from Kathleen. She gave me resources and links, along with concrete elements that I can work on immediately and use to move forward with new work. I also appreciate the library of learning materials that you put together. This was exactly what I was seeking. I feel like it’s a mini-MFA lesson, and I look forward to spending the summer reading resources and applying what I learn. Again, thanks for the opportunity to learn. Sincerely, Lisa"

"I cannot thank you enough for your help. The packet you all prepared is inspiring and beyond anything I expected. Amazon has already delivered my first three books, and I’m looking forward to getting started with my studies! Your specific critique was clear and compelling. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have such specific guidance. You’ve made me feel like it is very possibly to improve my writing, and now I know how. Thank you again! I’m so glad I participated in your Poetry Lab. Sincerely, Rachel"

"I am so glad the inaugural Poetry Lab was a success! The amount of effort, skill and professionalism that went into the resource materials is obvious and I cannot wait until summer brings along my annual extended hiatus from work and I can give them their due. Jenny Molberg invited me to be in touch about a book called Louder Birds that got published with Pleiades. Mostly, I’d love to be able to thank her for her helpful critique, encouragement and a rich list of suggested poets to read. Thanks again for enriching my writing life, Josh (and the Frontier Poetry team), Shelley"



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