What We Look For in Poetry Submissions

05 March 2020 on Blog, Storystorm  

Here at Barnstorm, our poetry readers and editors have varied tastes and interests, but we all share a love for poetry. Read on below to hear what each of our readers looks for when choosing poems!

Jack Croughwell: Well, poetry's not a science. I'd be lying if I said there was any one, or two, or however-many things that I look for when considering poems because poets are often writing for different effects. Poems that turn me off are the ones that try to sound poetic for poetry's sake. Just because something sounds nice or invokes a compelling image does not mean it makes for the strongest poem. Though, I will ask: where have all the limericks gone?

Emily Gore: I want to feel what the poet was feeling when they wrote it. An intangible inner world should be made available to me on the page. I look for unique perspectives and manipulation of language— I want to feel disrupted. A stellar ending always gets my vote. That is to say, if the last line in a poem (or really any great line) pushes me think about it or feel it for a while after, it did the work I think a poem should do.

Becca Medvin: I look for poems with a genuine sense of aliveness. I am generally turned off when a poem feels too mediated or intellectualized. Poems that get my attention can surprise me with some sort of new creation, some new way of looking or putting things together. 

Johnna St Cyr: I look for poems that move me on some level, that beg to be read aloud, that ask to be reread. I like poems with strong sounds that also maintain some kind of emotional sense. It doesn’t have to be a story, but I want it to make me feel something. I want a poem to be both surprising and memorable. I look for poems that leap off the page and tumble into my head. 

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