Macaulay Glynn of Harpur Palate and the New York Quarterly Recommends...

When submitting to a journal, don’t pay too much attention to the editors’ aesthetic statement. It’s better to read, if possible, the most recent two issues of the journal and what the members of the current editorial staff themselves have published to get a sense of whether the conversation you’re having with the world is anything like the one they’re having. I rarely find aesthetic statements on a journal’s website useful in any meaningful way unless the journal in question has a very specific formal schtick. I state this while admitting that, as an editor, I have written or helped edit aesthetic statements. Too often an aesthetic statement is overly general: Be bold. Aim to surprise or move us. We’ll know it when we see it.

The relationship between your work and its audience will always be serendipitous. Whether it will find its audience—the audience that will be moved by it, that will want to share it with others—requires equal parts Sisyphean determination from the writer, who must continue to believe in their work and in the audience who waits for it by repeatedly delivering it to the world in spite of rejection, and a healthy understanding of this process as a kind of ephemeral lottery. Whether your poems receive an acceptance or rejection is often more contingent on whether the reader—be it an editor or an intern—has skipped lunch or some other unfathomable detail of their day, week, or life than on the writing itself.

At least twice a year I set out in search of a poem I read as a teenager, with nothing but a single line of text that I remember and a vivid memory of how it made me feel. The point is that someone in the world is going to be that dogged by something you wrote. So here’s my aesthetic statement: We all want to read poetry that will tap us on the shoulder ten or twenty years from now. Trust that, and send out the work.

—Macaulay Glynn, poetry coeditor, Harpur Palate, and associate editor, the New York Quarterly