Saturday, January 02, 2016

The 50 States Project: CT, New Jersey, MI, ME

I haven't been sending work out for a good long while because I've been trying to pay my rent. But, hey, it's paid! For now... . So here are a few more states I've cracked in my quest to be published in all 50 states. Spoiler: it will probably be a while before I post another update in this series. Right now, I'm in the mid 20s with this, but I have to send more work out.

18. Connecticut. Connecticut has been a kind of white whale for me for some time. For whatever reason, I had no luck at all from any Connecticut journals for a very long time. To be honest, I quit trying for a while because it started to seem impossible I’ve yet to crack The Connecticut Review, but I also haven't sent them anything in years. The first CT journal kind enough to include me in their pages was a little one called The Broken Bridge Review, which is published out of the Pomfret School. They took a fairly emotional piece from my upcoming collection Driving Around, Looking In Other People’s Windows, which deals with medical issues and the dissolution and collapse of my marriage. And jokes! Clowns throwing pies! Okay, maybe not a lot of clowns. Recently, I managed to place a poem with the Connecticut River Review, published by the Connecticut Poetry Society. Let me reiterate that it took me more than 10 years to break through in Connecticut. I’m not really sure why. It’s very likely that most of what I was sending out early on was too Southern. The piece CRR took is a persona poem about slavery within the prison system in the south, though, which is pretty Southern. But it’s the kind of poem just about anyone would take—except for a journal more focused on experimental writing.

19. New Jersey. Probably the most well-known journal in New Jersey is Story Quarterly, which I've never been in, though I used to buy and read it regularly as an undergrad. I don't know that I've ever sent them anything, actually. If I did, it was before I knew how to write, so that doesn't count. SQ is a beast, a massive David Foster Wallace-sized tome that, I believe, is actually published annually, despite the name. They publish the top names, and will accept longer pieces. Paterson Literary Review is another New Jersey journal I've heard of but don't actually know anything about, other than they only accept mailed submissions. Edison Literary Review showed me some love. They took a dirge I wrote a few years ago about the diminutive actor David Rappaport. It’s part of a kind of series I’ve been working on for several years about the deaths (mostly suicides) of various artists. Also, I really like Time Bandits, which he was in. Again, I think it’s a poem a lot of journals would take because it's a little unusual in subject matter while remaining easily accessible. It deals with some big issues in slightly different ways.

20. Michigan. Probably the most well-known journal in Michigan is the Michigan Quarterly Review, which I don’t believe I’ve ever assayed or even read. I've come across poems in collections that originally appeared there, and I often enjoy those poems, but I've never read an issue. I did place a surreal little poem in Temenos, a journal out of Central Michigan University. I believe I discovered this journal after finding a friend’s work within its pages. This is something I frequently do--if I see that a friend has published in a particular journal, I usually will send them something. When I was just starting out, this was kind of a competitive thing. I would seek out places friends and classmates were published. Nowadays, it just seems like these places might be a good fit. Another Michigan journal I’ve had luck with is Pank, which I’ve been fortunate enough to appear in several times, as a poet, fiction writer, and as an interviewee. Riceland was also reviewed very favorably in an issue. I don’t have a particular connection with them—it’s a damned fine journal, so I’ve sent a lot of submissions to them and gotten lucky a few times. When I first started sending work there, I don't think anybody had heard of them, but now, they've become kind of a big deal. I don't know if they'd publish me as readily if I sent them something now.

21. Maine. For me, the journal I admire the most out of Maine is probably Beloit Poetry Journal. BPJ was one of the first journals I started reading as an undergrad, and though I sent them some submissions years ago, I never sent them anything they'd probably even have considered publishing. My bad, BPJ. Sorry for wasting both our times. Needless to say, I haven't been in BPJ, and I haven't sent them anything in years and years. I should really try again. I did send something to Off the Coast, a quirky little poem from my forthcoming collection Driving Around, Looking in Other People's Windows. The poem is about my marriage woes at the time. Crosscut, out of Husson College, took a couple of emotionally charged poems from Riceland and Driving Around, both about my mother's long illness and eventual death, my relationship with her, and the process of getting tested to see if I had Huntington's Disease, as she did. So, you know, more clowns with pies.

That's it for now!
-CL Bledsoe

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