Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Response From Former Editor of The Spoon River Poetry Review

A response from former Editor Lucia Getsi:

Hi there,

I am no longer the editor, having retired from that position after twenty years, but I am happy to answer. The fall issue, in a twice per year journal that has never been late in 25 years, has been published in December for the past 17 years. It is sent NFP mail, so it is usually mid December or even January before it gets to those on the mailing list, approximately 1200. I have seen the galleys--the winners are right in there, just like always. Does this contestant know that fall extends through the winter solstice on Dec. 21?

We have never, nor will we ever, announce the judges before the contest is judged and announced. You cannot imagine how judges are hounded if some people know who they are in advance, and most writers will not even consider judging a contest if their names are announced in advance. We try for blind judging, and keeping identities secret helps.

We've never had a complaint about our rules, after which many other journal contests have modeled their own. They are clear enough so that had I gotten such an email, I may have ignored it, but I doubt that our Publication Director did, as she answers everything. Many times, emails from those not in the computer address book are routinely routed to Junk Mail, and sometimes some slip into Junk even when they are.


Dr. Lucia Getsi
20 year Editor,
The Spoon River Poetry Review
University Distinguished Professor Emerita,
English and Comparative Literature
Illinois State University


Thank you for your quick response.

I still have some questions:
  1. If the judge is kept anonymous, how does he or she know that she/he isn't awarding a prize to his/her current student, a friend, lover/spouse, or family member? (See Jorie Graham Rule)
  2. Do you have a mechanism in place for avoiding this potential problem?
  3. If a finalist turns out to have a personal or professional relationship with the final judge, do you disqualify him or her? If so, is that entrant's fee returned? (In other words, it would seem unfair to penalize an entrant who doesn't know the identity of the final judge before submitting).
  4. I still don't see a link on your website about the 2006 winners, and our correspondent said he/she had entered the 2007 contest. Please clarify.


Jennifer Semple Siegel

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My oh my, our Dr. Emerita, is very touchy and succumbs to ad hominem: I had no idea that Autumn ends at the Winter solstice. . . . I thank the august Dr. for her enlightening me.

But to wait EIGHT MONTHS while academes dally along and impose “no simultaneous submissions” on their menial contest entrants does strike some of us in the real world as outrageous. Maybe this is how business is conducted in the poetry world and I am naive. I am certainly naive about thinking I should abide by the “no simultaneous submissions” rule after waiting more than half a year. Never again.

Notice how our good Dr. Emerita says that “[n]or will we ever announce the judges before the contest is judged and announced”. Presumably, our good Dr. Emerita implies that this policy will be true beyond the grave where she and her academic cohorts will one day still wield influence over the magazine? Change comes hard. Even for enlightened academes.

But not all hope is lost. I know that the Howard Nemerov sonnet contest does announce its judge beforehand: this year it’s Frederick Turner. Hmmm. . . . Poor Mr. Turner. How he must be hounded