Recently I came across a few editors lamenting on their blogs about how difficult it's been to get submissions from women. No Tell Motel
doesn't have this problem. Having two women editors probably helps.
Our submission period has been open for a week and aside from sending a note to past contributors, I haven't made any public announcements. At this point I don't need to, submissions just appear.
This past week NTM
received 36 submissions (one solicited, the rest unsolicited). 18 of those submissions came from women, 17 from men and 1 I can't tell by the name.
In 2004-2005, men accounted for about 55% of our submissions. It's now closer to 50/50. We tend to publish more women than men (around a 60/40 ratio). This isn't intentional, but the way our editorial tastes play out. I don't feel any need to explain or qualify, there are countless magazines that make it a habit to regularly publish 70%, 80%+ male issues. A few magazines tilting the other way will not destroy the mighty cultural capital cosmos.
It's been said that women submit to NTM
cause it's pink and cute. Well, I'm convinced -- so here's an idea, why don't the magazines that are having trouble getting women redesign their publications with adorable pink cupcake borders? I think that would really draw in the lady poets. We love
pastry. We also like puppies, kittens, shoes and according to surveys, Brad Pitt, although personally I'm more of a Clive Owen or Daniel Craig fan. Or . . .
a different approach might be making a more conscious approach to women's poetry. Maybe be more open to what it's doing instead of how it's not doing what you expect from it. Putting out a call for women poets is a good-hearted gesture and you won't hear me criticizing that, but this is what those kinds of calls say to me: "I'm an editor who's disconnected with roughly half of the contemporary poetry scene. I know some women poets and I invite them to submit, but because it's the same few that are being published in the other male-heavy publications, they're being hit up by countless editors and don't always have work to send my way. So I continue to put out male-heavy issues further establishing my publication's sausage party reputation and driving away potential female contributors."
I can only speak for myself, but when I notice a magazine publishes overwhelmingly men, my first inclination isn't "I'm gonna crack that walnut," but "I'm not gonna waste my time." See, I make assumptions about the editors. These assumptions could very well be unfair and outright wrong, but I make them. I'm guessing some other women poets make those assumptions as well.
And why shouldn't we make assumptions? Assumptions are being made about us all the time. Mostly that there aren't many of us or we're so delicate we can't handle the competition with the big boys, so we cower and eek out our poems in obscurity.
If you're a poetry editor having a difficult time finding women poets and would like to expand your list of women to solicit work from, may I be so bold as to suggest you become acquainted with the work of the women here
. There's well over 80 right there and the list is growing. I hear the men are somewhat good too.