|Volume 35, Issue
Cover: Winter, Kelli Hoppmann,
oil on board, 23" x 29", ©2008
Wyrms & Wormholes
Welcome to the new editorial régime at Star*Line! Just to clarify: for the first two issues of 2012 (i.e., this one and 35.2), Marge Simon will still be the titular Poetry Editor, since the poetry for those issues had already been selected by her. I will begin considering poetry for issue 35.3 onward as of January 1, 2012. Unless the torrent of submissions makes this policy unfeasible, I will be reading for Star*Line year-round. Should issues begin to fill too far in advance, standards will be raised appropriately.
Star*Line is open to any poets writing in the spec genres, not just SFPA members. Not only that, but it will not exclude those poets who do not consider themselves primarily speculative poets. To that end, I will post calls for submissions at non-sf venues unless that practice becomes impractical (see “torrent” and “unfeasible,” above). While Anglophone, SFPA encompasses the planet; we will retain English style variations (where practical) with respect to the poet’s nationality, and hope to receive translations (with permissions) of SFnal poetry from other languages into English.
The essence of an editor’s job (aside from the mundane concerns of layout, printing, distribution, and trying to compose an impersonal rejection slip that comforts the timid and insecure, encourages the promising, and squelches the blatantly inappropriate [often, all are required simultaneously]) is to select material according to imposed criteria—within the limitations of the publication’s stated mission, of course. While I have no intention of making apologies for my editorial choices, I will be happy to explain, if asked, what rationale lies behind selections (bottom line, always, is “personal taste”).
Poems that depend on knowledge of esoteric information (for instance, the poet’s personal history) often fail: it can be easy to miss literary and cultural references that make all the difference—when an editor called to tell me that a poem of mine was the runner-up for a major award (major award: $2K; runner-up: $0), he said, “Yeah, the folks who knew [the poet whose work it parodied] thought it was hilarious, and the others thought it was a really bad poem.” I think of the bits that depend upon obscure facts or arcane references as “Easter eggs” (equivalent to the same term in software development); these can be fun for the clued-in reader, but should not be the poem’s entire purpose.
I have a vanishingly small interest in submitters’ publication credits. Past issues of Star*Line have not included contributor’s bios, and I intend to maintain that practice, even though I suspect that it arose because SFPA was at one time a very small and incestuous community—and I would like to see it become even less incestuous and less small. (For the insatiably curious, I hear there are some lovely search engines out there.…) I have even less interest in poems that require “explanation” in their cover letters.
One change I have implemented is to make Star*Line and SFPA’s other publications also available as .pdfs, for those who prefer e-literature, desire quick gratification, or have unreliable mail service. Another is to promote subscriptions to libraries, schools, and those who are not interested in SFPA membership but do like to read speculative poetry (we call these people “consumers,” and they should be encouraged). To that end, it is important to make our publications transparent and credible to readers from outside SFPA.
It also behooves us to refrain from internecine warfare elsewhere in the public arena, to say nothing of personally motivated vilification of individuals via attacks on their poetry. Neither private ideology nor lack of literary stature can justify this behavior. I welcome critical discussion of individual poems and editorial policy, but I hope that we can take it as a given that poems are offered, and accepted, for publication without being motivated by any other ideological agenda than wanting to publish the best speculative poetry being written today.
Let me leave you with a description of what effect that poetry should have:
See you next ish,
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Table of Contents
The Last Typewriter Contest