Part V. The Printed Word

  1. Why Subscribing Is Not Enough
  2. Good Poetry Mags… We Want To See Them All!
  3. How The Comstock Review Is Made
  4. You’ve Got The Wrong Journal
  5. How To Make Your Own Chapbook
  6. Poetry Collections — Unifying Theme or Random Selections?
  7. Where Are The Ethnic Poets?

1. Why Subscribing is Not Enough 

Most small magazines fold for one of two reasons (often contingent on each other)… lack of energy and lack of money. To make a poetry journal thrive, you have to have workaholics and high achievers. In order to produce the magazine, you need money. If you figure the energy it takes to prepare a professional looking magazine and the money that printers charge, you know that each issue can run over $5000. When you are doing your yearly charitable contributions, do not overlook your favorite journals.

  2. Good Poetry Mags… We Want To See Them All! 

We try to see what other magazines are out there for poets. If you are an editor, send us a copy… maybe we will have a chance to plug it down the line.

3. How the Comstock Review Is Made 

We receive an amazing number of letters noting the manner in which CR is produced. Thank you. This is how it is done.

  1. All poems are professionally typeset. It gives a superior appearance than typed or dot matrixed books have.
  2. All graphics (when we use them) are camera-ready and do not require extraordinary life-saving efforts from our printer.
  3. The book is professionally proofed… proofed and proofed until we are silly… and, then, proofed again. When you find an error, we have worked very hard to miss it.
  4. CR is layed out in four page increments on 8 1/2 x 11 grids, printed two up on both sides and then cut.
  5. If we raise the cover, it is done with thermography (heated sand in the press).
  6. It is sent to a bindery for perfect-binding (squared and printed spine) and trimmed.
  7. This entire process takes time, effort and money but the finished product houses outstanding poetry by poets who deserve our best effort.

4. You’ve Got The Wrong Journal

Our last reading yielded many surprises. Most of them were pleasant… but others were more difficult to handle with tact and aplomb. Those were the wonderful poems whose only flaw, to a magazine designed for a broad audience, was that they lapsed into sexually graphic descriptions or unsuitable language that was not necessary to the tone of the poem.  The poems that were not good, and fell into that category , were not difficult to handle. But a great poem whose obscene language or momentary lascivious bent has created real concern on many occasions. We have published both when they have really been outstanding. We have lost a couple of readers by doing so. In general, we prefer great poems that do not use blasphemy, obscenity or sexually explicit reference. We usually err on the side of good taste.  The blatant stuff is for other venues. Don’t send it to us.

5. How To Make Your Own Chapbook 

Everyone is not a professional poet… but most poets love to see their poems in a book… and would love to give this book to their friends and family. If you would like to make your own chapbook, you do not need a vanity press. You can, with a little effort, do the job yourself. Here are some suggestions to help:

  1. Neatly and consistently type your poems (decide the size of your book) — Use the same type font throughout!
  2. Get some graph boards (they have blue grids that do not show when xeroxed).
  3. Lay out the poems using the graph to make top and bottom and side margins even — hot wax is good, but glue sticks will do.
  4. Get a sheet of rub-on numbers for your page numbers (most programs will do this for you, i.e. Pagemaker).
  5. If you lay it out on 8 1/2 x 11 to fold in half, it will be chapbook size and save you xerox $.
  6. Do your book in 4 page increments (total number of pages divisible by 4)
  7. When you are ready, take your boards to a friend with a copier or to PaperCutter/Kinko’s and print.
  8. Select a nice graphic (clip art) or draw or photograph your cover. Put it on heavier stock.
  9. Find someone with an industrial strength stapler. Fold and staple.
  10. For $3-5 each, you have a 36 page chapbook to share with poet friends and family.

6. Poetry Collections — Unifying Theme or Random Selections? 

Most poets, if only in the privacy of their thoughts, have a “collection” of poems. Some are called “Selected Poems” or “Collected Poems” often with the years they were penned used as a divider. We are seeing a trend in collections centered around a theme. Within the Comstock Writers’ Group, members have the following collections in various stages of publication:

Jenny MacPherson’s “Another Use For Husbands” and “Cute & Perky & Slim & Sexy: A Poet’s Guide To the Personal Ads”, Peggy Sperber Flanders “The Divorce Papers” and Kathleen Bryce Niles’ “Ashes From A Long Dead Fire: A History of the Collins Block Fire”, “Parochial Habits”, and “A Catechism of Regret” all are theme-based collections. We believe that thematic collections are stronger and more universally appealing but that is a matter of taste.

 7. Where Are The Ethnic Poets?

As we read dozens of poetry magazines, we have to express our disappointment in not seeing any measurable number of poems by ethnic poets. Sadly, we ask whether they are not sending to traditional magazines in favor of those journals which publish exclusively the work of minority poets. Is it because their work is not middle-of-the-road or strong in language or theme? We do not have the answers but would like to know your thoughts.