Sivakami Velliangiri's Guidelines for Anecdotal Poetry
Noted poet Sivakami Velliangiri will be guest editing the poetry section of the August (Monsoon) 2019 edition. This season has a theme - anecdotal poetry, a genre that has not been dealt with in any print or online journal so far. The editor has been toying with the 'anecdotal’ for the past forty years. She is curious and anxious to see to what level our poets can take the 'anecdotal.'
Below are the guidelines she has set out for poetry submissions:
- Submissions are now open to the public
- Please don’t submit more than three poems (no more than twenty four lines each), to email@example.com
- Send poems in the body of the mail, and preferably not as attachments
Anecdotal poetry is poetry that has to do with exploring everyday reality, carefully feeling the way by touching on and observing situations that might seem ordinary and mundane, yet are very specifically experienced in the ever present-I. The poems however should not get stranded in the anecdotal or merely impart a certain atmosphere. They should maintain and possess more ‘content’. Everyday reality is sketched in a contemplative and slightly melancholic or jovial tone, without becoming sombre or cheerful. Anecdotal poetry is that which grows sparser, less ironical, and is looking for consolation in the complexity and seeming futility of life. The ego is pushed into the background, in favour of characters who are present in a somewhat narrative anecdotal context. An inner voice must emerge in the anecdotal aspect—you must make it possible to discern the beauty in the layers of language. Anecdotal poetry must have its quality, its own voice, its liveliness and its variations.
Anecdotal poetry is generally easy to follow. In the Guest Editor’s words:
“We all grow from childhood, and our memory of that time and space ranges from the warm and secure to the distant or fearful. Anecdotes can be crafted from this. The best ring true and echo with all of us. For instance, I have a poem about a car journey. I have heard it said that my mother did not complete her driving tests. She did not learn to ‘reverse’. This alone would not have made an interesting poem. So I planned a trip to the Western Ghats in my head, made the driver leave the key in the car, and planned the poem in such a way that it would dangle at the verge of a deep dark gorge. You need to trawl back on possible anecdotes. You need to choose something that is sufficiently focused and self-contained or else the writing will be slightly lengthy and weighty. With one clear idea, you can write an anecdotal poem, only you have to be cautious choosing line breaks at sensible points. Choosing the insignificant and carefully crafting, selecting and shifting to the barest of bones without being over-poetic or fancifying the language; one well-chosen image and a powerful image can do the trick.
Donald T .Nigli writes about so many homes in as many cities. I coveted the Anecdotal form from him, more or less.
Most of Arjun Rajendran’s poems are Anecdotal poems. K. Srilata, too has many an anecdotal poem.
The challenge will be to use the Anecdotal form whichever way you want to elevate the poem.
Anecdotalism is a few steps down the same road through the greater infusion of reality."
Here are a few poets you can read to get a flavour of the genre:
GENERAL SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
Narrow Road Literary Magazine is a triannual journal published in April, August and December. It focusses on flash fiction, poetry and haibun. The first edition of the journal, was invite only. However, from the second edition we are open to unsolicited submissions and will read your works during the following periods:
- June 1 - July 15 for the August Issue
- Oct 1 - Nov 15 for the December Issue
- Feb 1 - Mar 15 for the April Issue
All flash fiction pieces, poems and haibun (works) submitted for publication will undergo a review by editors of the individual genres. It will take approximately a month for them to notify you whether your submission has been accepted, accepted subject to revisions, or not accepted. Please be aware that at times, our editors may be unavailable for short periods, so there could be delays in getting back to you. Time constraints and the voluntary nature of editors' roles restrict editors from corresponding in any depth with writers whose work has not been accepted.
We like to keep the communication lines clear and simple. But please do follow the following guidelines. Please remember all submissions are subject to these guidelines.
- You may submit up to three pieces in a single submission during any one submission period.
- You may only submit work that is not under consideration by other publications. Works posted on closed Internet discussion forums or on personal web sites that are not publication sites will be considered, and so will previously published works, provided you inform us of the publication venue and date. If accepted, the said work will be noted as previously published.
- Once a work is accepted, we reserve the right to publish the work in the next issue of Narrow Road, and in any associated annual print or online journals or anthologies.
- Narrow Road retains first rights for all works that appear in this journal for the first time. This means that if your work is subsequently published elsewhere, that publication must cite Narrow Road as the place of original publication.
- Please do include your Name and your place of residence in the mail that you send us.
Submissions are to be sent to individual editors on firstname.lastname@example.org . The editor for each genre are listed below:
Your subject line should contain
- your name
- the title(s) of your works
- the genre for which you are submitting (flash fiction, poetry or haibun)
- and the date
Example: O'Henry, The Gift of the Magi, Flash Fiction, 1 October 2017
(Please follow this. It helps us keep track of submissions and not lose them.)
We request you to paste your work directly into the body of the email. We do not accept works with a concrete structure as it is fiendishly difficult to retain the original format. In this case please do mention in your mail that you want your work to appear in the form you have sent.
All work accepted will be copy edited. Content editing may happen; in that case the editor will suggest changes and take your consent. (Refusing content changes does not lead to disqualification, but we are sticklers for grammar). Once a piece has been accepted and formatted for the journal, we will not accept content changes except under unusual circumstances.
What are we looking for?
Rohini's criteria for Flash Fiction
Flash fiction is very short fiction which can range anywhere from 6 words to 1000 words. It's called flash because it can be read easily in a few minutes. It is also called quick fiction, short-short, micro fiction, sudden fiction, smoke long fiction or postcard fiction.
The only difference between short stories and flash fiction is the length. In this magazine, we are looking for stories of no more than 1000 words. There is no minimum length. If you can tell a story in very few words, go for it. The shorter your story (if it fulfils the criteria of a story), the better your chance of getting it accepted.
However, the maximum length is fixed. Which means 1000 and below is okay but 1001 and above is not. Edit carefully and check word length before sending it in.
Within the 1000 words we are looking for a complete story with a beginning, a middle and an end, at least one character, some action or movement and preferably, some dialogue.
A story can be defined as - a character facing a problem, acting to resolve it and reaching some kind of completion at the end. There must be movement and progress in the story.
The ending can be of any kind – a happy or unhappy ending. A twist or a surprise or even an ambiguous ending provided it seems natural and not contrived.
Raamesh's criteria for Poetry (Not applicable for August 2019)
There are as many definitions of poetry as there are poets. Wordsworth defined poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings"; Emily Dickinson said, "If I read a book and it makes my body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry"; and Dylan Thomas defined poetry this way: "Poetry is what makes me laugh or cry or yawn, what makes my toenails twinkle, what makes me want to do this or that or nothing."
Poetry is a lot of things to a lot of people. And we at Narrow Road will not attempt to tell you what that is, since we are not that sure either. But yes, we do not look at unnecessarily rhyming words very kindly.
UPDATE: 20 lines to a poem, 25 at a stretch. Brevity being the soul of wit and all that. Plus we're really not into epics.
Paresh's criteria for Haibun
Haibun is a prose poem that uses embedded haiku to enhance the composition’s overall resonance and effect. And that’s all that we will leave you with. English language haibun is an evolving and highly complex form of writing and if we start delving into the various definitions, do’s and don’ts, is and isn’t, we may never be able to enjoy what the form may stand for.
The fourteen haibun contained in the first issue would give you a fair idea of what we are looking for. Surprise us, move us, shock us, just do not maintain the status quo. As for the haiku in the haibun, we believe it to be an integral part of the composition. It should move the story forward, or take the narrative in another direction It may add insight or another dimension to the prose, resolves the conflict in an unpredictable way, or may question the resolution of the prose.
It’s perfectly fine with us if the haiku does not work as a standalone piece of poetry, if it makes sense in the overall narrative and follows the other aesthetics of a haiku, we are open to it. But, yes 5-7-5 is usually not a haiku.