On Editing:  A Modest Proposal for Poetry Magazines

Updated: Jul 23

Here’s something I don’t believe:  That the real purpose of editorial committees is to bring fairness to the process.  I think the real purpose of editorial committees is to spread the blame for failure so that no one has to take responsibility.

Any editor knows that every issue of every magazine is a testament to failure at some level—some wonderful but odd poem not published, some deserving author overlooked, some grand opportunity for comment or article not seized.  It comes with the territory.  If you can’t bear failure, and if you can’t understand that recognizing your failure is the price you pay for improving, then you’d best pick a different occupation or avocation:  you shouldn’t be an editor, you don’t have the nerves or the vision or the stamina for it.

What prompts this reflection is a note on one of the more prominent poetry magazines publishing today, that the editors are trying to speed up their response times, and expect to be able to respond to submissions within seven months.