Thursday, September 25, 2008

Florida Review :: Bits and Pieces

Flipping through the Spring 2008 issue of Florida Review, I came across a few items of note. I see Billy Collins has two poems in this issue. He'd previously sent his work to FR and been published, and it raised a question about how lit mags deal with "really famous writers" sending in their work. Do they get picked because they're famous and will help to promote/sell the magazine? Or do they get picked on the merit of their work? In which case, they'd be as likely to not get picked, right? I've had a lot of conversations with a lot of editors about this situation, and even though I hear them say it's about the merit of the work, there's always a footnote of commentary about how it helps the magazine. That is the business end of the literature, though. There is also a different level of scrutiny on the authors - to be well known and published raises this question, sort of like doping in sports - to achieve is to be suspect. Even famous poets get rejected. Sounds like a good title for something. I'm not saying anything about the quality of Collins' work in this publication, just commenting on the situation.

I'm also pleased to see FR include a couple comics, one by Jeffery Brown and one by Rachel and Beverly Luria. It's a lot to dedicate as many pages to a comic as they need to tell their story, but a trend I hope to see more of in other lit mags.

And lastly, just a nod to Lisa K. Buchanan, a once-upon-a-time reviewer for NewPages. She's got a nonfiction piece in here, "Tips for the Busy Conversationalist." It's an intense exploration that plays well with the self-help style. Nod.


Anonymous said...

This is an interesting question.

Mr. Collins sent some work to a journal I was previously affiliated with, and the work was clearly not on par with the other work the editors had accepted for the issue. The question of how to approach the situation was discussed among the editors and myself. In the end, we decided not to take the work and wrote Mr. Collins a sincere thank-you note for sending his poems our way. We decided in the end that if you remove the name of the poet from the poem and the poem doesn't stand up on its own, it's better to pass on the work and ask the poet to send more in the future.

summer girl said...

Hi, Denise. I happen to know that the FR previously rejected work by Billy Collins. So... they MUST have taken his work this time because of the quality; right? Either way, I'm sure he's happy. His book of poetry is on the NY Times Best Sellers Fiction list, and who wouldn't be happy with that?