One of the perks of being an editor is the chance to visit some assumptions you’ve long held as a poet. That happened here at Verse Wisconsin, as we started hearing that poems we accepted had been published on poets’ personal blogs. At first, this took us aback. Neither of us blogs our own poetry. It sounded like a publication credit. We took the question to our advisors and board members. Conversation buzzed over email. We asked a few other editors around the web. More conversation. Like the question of simultaneous submissions (which we do NOT accept), this is an issue playing out right now at magazines everywhere.
It has become clear to us that different editorial models and approaches exist. The most conservative journals forbid previous publication, including at your own blog or website. On the other side of the continuum lies the rapidly emerging, evolving, blog/web/online world, where poems are linked, tagged, pasted, and spread—the more and faster, the better. Replication becomes a mark of success and a way to build readership and is akin to the older model of sharing poems with friends and family.
Finally, there are those of us finding our way to a middle path. It has been a challenge, and a welcome exercise, to figure out our stance on this issue. Our new policy: Verse Wisconsin will not accept any poem that has been previously published in a print or online magazine or journal. We will accept poems that have appeared on the poet’s OWN blog or website (only), with an understanding that upon acceptance, the poet will remove the accepted poem from their own site for the duration of the VW issue, print or online, their poem appears in. After the issue is past, poets are free to publish the poem again on their blog, with a credit to VW listed and hopefully a link to the issue in our archives. We’ll be happy to list websites and blogs in bios, as we currently do. The idea, as we see it, is to encourage traffic between our site and yours, to share readers and to build audience generally.
This editorial position differs from the position we take as poets, where we’re both a little more conservative. Why would we differ as editors from what we believe as writers? The answer is complex, and has a lot to do with how we see Verse Wisconsin. As our mission states, we hope to serve the community of poets in Wisconsin, and further afield, and to bring the work of a diverse array of poets to the attention of a wider audience. Part of that diversity, it seems to us, means including poets who blog actively, as well as poets who eschew the whole idea. Finally, we recommend that you read all guidelines carefully, wherever you submit your work. When in doubt, query the editors before sending.