by Scott E. Green
I am a science fiction/fantasy/horror writer who works principally as a poet in the three genres of the fantastic. I have been doing this for 35 years. In the course of my career, I have written a reference book on sf/f/h poetry. I have been a past president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. My fourth poetry collection, Private Worlds: A Revised Atlas is being published by Speaking Volumes.
Below are ten points that poets who wish to work in the science fiction/fantasy/horror genres should keep in mind.
1. There is absolutely no difference among prose poetry, flash fiction, paragraph poetry, and micro fiction. I have looked at all four kinds of writing for hours and I cannot see any difference at all.
2. Unless a publication says absolutely and unequivocally in its guideliness that it is not open to poetry, query them.
3. There was a time when general literary journals were not open to poetry immersed in particular genres. Now, many new general literary journals are open to genre poetry. So don’t assume a general literary journal is closed to sf/f/h poetry unless its guidelines actually state that fact.
4. Many of the sf/f/h e-zines also produce an annual print issue. You should verify the print issue either publishes new work or functions as an annual ‘best of’ collection. Many contracts for the sale of work to publications often include to right to reprint in an anthology. If an e-zine is buying the poem and it has an annual print issue, then make find out whether the annual print issue is the intended showcase for reprints or not.
5. Never sell your poem to an anthology that is only going to pay royalties. Somehow, they never make enough sales to generate royalties for contributors.
6. Never sell to a publication that says it will pay if funds are available. Somehow the funds never become available.
7. Despite what editors say, most of them do treat poetry as filler. In this area, it is easier to sell short poems rather than long poems. That is why you see so many poems using Japanese forms like haiku published in sf/f/h periodicals.
8. A magazine need not be a sf/f/h publication that uses poetry to be the only market for sf/f/h poetry. Consider looking into children’s periodicals as well as youth Boys Life-type magazines published in other English language markets. For example, the Australian division of international media giant Pearson’s publishes several youth magazines that resemble in style and spirit the Boy’s Life of several generations ago, and yes, they buy poetry.
9. It’s tough to crack into many Canadian markets because they receive funding from the Canadian Council, which means they buy only from Canadian nationals and permanent residents in Canada.
10. Lastly, read the publication’s guidelines for submissions, even the very hard-to-read horror e-zines (deep red lettering on black background is really tough on the eyes ). The editors are fanatic that all would-be submitters follow them, unless you have made an agreement with the editors before hand.