Sunday, March 11, 2007

a bit stupified

What do you think when a publication includes poems and/or stories by its own editors? I saw this today an online zine I like (which has rejected me twice). It surprised me. I think it’s a way bad policy. What are they thinking? Can there be a good reason?

In 2004, when I first started submitting, I had four poems accepted at an ezine. Months went by, along with two new issues, and my poems didn’t appear. I wrote to the editor to ask if something was wrong and he’d misplaced the poems – could I re-send them. So I did. I began waiting again and what do you know but the new issue comes out, without my poems, but with his. It was too much a mix of insult with bravado for me, so I withdrew them. It would be one thing to say, jeepers! sorry, there wasn’t room in the issue. But when the editor’s own poems show up, it’s slightly outrageous.

I love mixing strong adjectives with alleviating adverbs.

Somewhat magnificent.
Kind of great.
Slightly outrageous.
Rather comatose.
A bit stupified.


Helen Losse said...

Hi Sarah, I, too, think it's a bad policy. I'm Poetry Editor at the Dead Mule, and we don't publish our own work. I had poems in the 'zine before joining the staff, but I wouldn't expect to publish any now.

Andrew Shields said...

Considering how much vanity-press publications are frowned upon in the poetry world, it's very surprising that any editor which publish his or her own poems in his or her own journal.

Because basically there's little difference between the two.

Dave said...

As editor of an e-zine (qartsiluni), I too concur that publishing one's own work is dumb and sends the wrong message. We did it last year when we were more of a group blog, but when we started thinking of ourselves as more of a proper literary zine, self-publication was the first thing to go. We have our own blogs for that. (I would be careful, however, to distinguish between self-publishing and vanity press publication. The former is perfectly respectable, if inappropriate in certain circumstances.)

SarahJane said...

Yes, I really can't think of a good reason for it, except that the editor very obviously approves of his/her own poems. And they don't want to go through the submission process. It sure can be a drag, but publishing your own poems isn't going to earn you any respect. It certainly goes beyong "publishing your friends." laugh.

Rob said...

I agree. In the first issue or two of a magazine, it might be acceptable just to get things going, but after that I think it's a bad idea.

SarahJane said...

I agree that an editor including his/her poems in the first issue or two can be a good idea, but it ends there I think.

even if you later engage a guest editor, you should not submit to your own journal.

Ash said...

I saw something very similar the other day, too. It was an e-zine that I enjoy too. Maybe we're thinking of the same one.

I also think that mags affiliated with universities shouldn't publish their own students like _________ Poetry Review does.

SarahJane said...

you were in issue 22, dear. so probably it's the same one.

Ash said...

So there are *two* e-zines out there whose editors are publishing their own stuff.

SarahJane said...

I'm sure there are many, but we don't read a lot of them. I'm talking about shampoo.

LKD said...


Somewhat magnified.

Kind of greeted.

Slightly outted.

Rather combed.

A bit stupendous.

I didn't know editors ever published their own work in their own zines and journals.

So, Shampoo's one. Are there others? C'mon, name names.

rae said...

I've seen 42 Opus publish fiction by their own editors - and I LOVE 42 Opus. I'm on the fence about being an editor and publishing your own work. I've never done it (when I was running Tilt) but still, I don't think it's as bad as others probably do.

BTW - I love the adverb "slightly" and use it often - especially before the word ridiculous.

SarahJane said...

laurel, love your misreadings.

rae, something in me just rolls over and groans "no" when i see an editor publishing in her-his own journal. in some cases, he's riding on his contributors' coat tails, ie there are some terrific poems in the issue and he decides his stands among them. not a very unbiased opinion, right? And doing that, in my opinion, helps disintegrate the reputation the poor guy probably spent a long time building up. There are a lot of journals out there. Surely if the poem is good enough, it will find an independently-minded publisher.

With "vanity presses" I'm on the other side of the fence. I have nothing against self-publishing at all. Life's tough enough. You want to give your loved ones your book? Certainly will make them a better gift than socks and such.

Beau Blue said...

Why is it "very bad policy"? Did you quit reading the online zine? Do you now doubt the quality of the work they DO publish?

This "proper literary" crap is just that. Crap. It's a war, all is fair.

A publisher trying to entertain his audience has ONE major responsibility. To his readers. It's easy enough to get it wrong. Eliminating good people from the pool of talent because of the jobs they hold seems to me to be a way of making it even easier to fuck up.

To do so for some vague idea that it's NOT PROPER is next to lunacy. Not proper?
Bad policy? Wrong message?

What message? Work hard, learn much, become an editor - we need a reason to keep you from the pages of our rag? Bah!

"publishing your own poems isn't going to earn you any respect" - As if that were a reason for publishing something.

A publisher should include whatever artists are thought to be entertaining enough to keep the site's visitors coming back for more.

A publisher should trust his editors to do that much, no matter who gets on the bill or top bill.

People who are writing and submitting for the "respect" it brings are misguided and more vain than they realize.

Sarah, don't submit there any longer. Stop reading their zine. Send a letter to the editor and tell him that since he pubbed himself over you, you've lost respect for his gig. He'll cry, I'm sure.

You speak as if "good ol' boys clubs" don't exist. That's a little innocent, don't you think?

My opinion only,


SarahJane said...

I think when you publish your own poems you are no longer making objective opinions about submissions. That's about it. That the publication has rejected me is neither here nor there. I read and enjoy and appreciate many publications that have spat upon me.
Of course the old boys' n girls' club exists. No kidding. But publishing yourself goes beyond publishing your friends, in my opinion, blue.

Shelley said...

Editors publishing own stuff = neither seemly nor cool. IMO.

Beau Blue said...

Editor's do one thing .. publishers do another.

It's not like they don't talk, but they have different responsibilities and answer to different directors. Editors have to answer to publishers. Publishers to their audience. Everything is 'cool' (and 'hot' for that matter) about applying the 'eye' to the material submitted. And everyone should be allowed to submit, right? NO!? Wow, you guys are strict.

Sometimes, a lot of the times, the very best stuff in the pile has been put there because of an editor's or publisher's invitation. Should editors stop doing that, too? But it's so 'unfair' to those just submitting, right? Well, hey, that's .. ah, life, you know.

This rule, 'NO editors allowed' who wrote it? When? Just curious.


SarahJane said...

Blue –
For me it’s the editor’s job to put together the best issue s/he can in line with the journal’s aesthetic. Part of that means making objective decisions about what work is going in. I don’t think s/he can make that decision about his or her own work. That’s it. If editors publish other editors, that seems fine to me. And I think soliciting work from writers is good and never appeared to me as a problem. So don’t know why that’s coming up. As to who wrote the “no editors allowed” rule, you’re putting words in someone’s mouth. I haven’t seen anyone advocate that except in the case of editors in their own journals, not editors in other journals. As to who made that “rule” I don’t know. Ask a publisher or editor whose journal follows that guideline.

rae said...

This has been interesting and I wanted to add my small 2 cents (again) -

with regards to objectivity, I don't believe in that specific idea. I don't believe it exists and that's probably why I don't have a problem with editors or publishers, at times, adding their own work to their publication. If it fits, why not? Their own personal aeshetic goes into every issue, anyway. We know this as potential contributers. If we trust them to decide whether or not our own work will fit into the journal's aesthetics, why do we not trust them to make the decision as to whether or not their own work fits? Is the "objectivity" level less when it's your own work? I would hope, and believe, that an editor or publisher has evolved enough as a poet and publisher to know.

Has anyone ever experienced a time where they've read a contribution by an editor or publisher in their own journal that was not up to par with the rest of the contributions in that issue? Just curious.

- Rach

SarahJane said...

Hi Rach -
I must admit that until now I've never seen it happen before (that I was aware of), so I can't really judge.

I know what you mean about objectivity, but I also know why some editors like to read "blind."

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