“Well, there’s no reason on Earth why you should, of course. There’s only one editor here, one person whose taste determines what gets into the RAR, and if you don’t like my taste, I don’t give a rat’s ass. Go someplace else for your poetry dose. (I don’t really think that makes me different from all the millions of others with online poetry zines, but I’m willing to admit it.
“But you’re here to find out what to send me so that you can partake of the glory that is Rat’s Ass Review. And I’ll tell you. Send me your best poetry. I don’t particularly care whether it’s formal or informal, metrical or free verse, rhyming or not. I’ve written all those possibilities myself. A good poem isn’t one that gets the grades for following particular rules. And I’m sure I’ll reject plenty of good poems anyway. I’m not even sure I’m looking for good poems. I’m looking for my kind of poems.
“Now we’re getting to it. What is my kind of poem? My favorite poets are Richard Wilbur and Elizabeth Bishop and W. H. Auden and Edna St. Vincent Millay and W. B. Yeats and Robert Hayden and a bunch of others who don’t have much in common.
“What they do have in common is that, if you read their best poetry carefully, you will understand something about what’s going on the first time you read it. You will get a lot more out of each poem the more you read it, but you don’t have to study it to get the first level of enjoyment. It isn’t work. You don’t have to tie the poem to a chair and beat it with a hose (apologies to Billy Collins).
“I do want to see something going on beyond the surface, so that I can read the poem over and over and still get pleasure from it. But I need that surface pleasure. I’m not a great thinker about poetry, and I need my immediate gratification.
“And what don’t I want to see? Well, I have my own prejudices, after all. I am not much interested in poetry about God, unless you are Alicia Ostriker or Mark Jarman and are wrestling with God in an interesting way. If you are a young poet with angst, I’ve been there and done that, and I don’t see any need to put it into my journal. I’m not interested in how evil any person or group of persons is. If you must write about Saddam Hussein or Dick Cheney, show me his warm, charming side. If you are impelled to write about the evils of the political left, take it to someone who agrees with you.
“And don’t send me anything I’ve seen a thousand times before. Send me the poem that no one but you, in the entire history of poetry, could have written.
“Send me as many as five poems. I’ll get to them when I can. We have three levels of form rejection letters: insulting, regular, and encouraging. You’ll be able to tell which one you get. If you aren’t rejected, you’ll get the glory of having your work posted on this site, and nothing else; you’ll give up first electronic publication rights, and nothing else. If I remember, I’ll register the copyrights as a compilation.
“If you want to send me a translation, it’s up to you to clear the rights to the original.
“I’m a writer too, so I understand about your not wanting to tie up your work in one place for a long time. I try to answer within a week, and unless you state otherwise, I’ll assume it’s a simultaneous submission.”
So wrote founding editor David M. Harris in 2009 when he launched Rat’s Ass Review. In early 2015 the editorship changed hands, but David’s vision remains the guiding sensibility of the journal. To David’s list of poets I would add Mary Oliver and Anne Sexton and Patricia Fargnoli and Pam Bernard and Alexis Rhone Fancher, and I hereby confirm that RAR’s selection policy will remain idiosyncratic and wholly subjective.
You are free to disregard any or all of these guidelines, but you do so at your own peril. If, for example, you choose to submit a poem about God, understand that you have dug yourself a hole, and are now trying to throw your work over a barrier which you have chosen to make higher.
As stated above in the short version, To submit: send up to five poems as a doc or docx file to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name in the title of the document, for example Frost, Robert Three Poems RAR July 2022.docx. We only accept electronic submissions. If you really want to make me happy, include in the body of the email your brief (no more than 75 word) third-person bio and the titles of the individual poems, type your poems using Times or Times New Roman, font size 12, left justified, and don’t capitalize the first word of every line as though you were writing with a quill pen.
If all of this isn’t enough, you can go to Jim Harrington’s site Six Questions For . . . or to Trish Hopkinson’s site A Selfish Poet where I go on at even greater length. Both of these excellent sites were kind enough to allow me a chance to discuss Rat’s Ass Review and its editorial quirks.
And, you can also go to The Dreaded Cover Letter and let Samara Powers give you more good advice on the fine art of not annoying editors before they even get to your first poem.
As a potential contributor you should know what we are offering to our poets:
Rat’s Ass Review is committed to publishing the best new and established poets, and to promoting those poets and their work as diligently as we can. We will work to bring our poets to the attention of literary critics and anthologists and onto the desks of award committees. We believe that your success is our success, and, if your work is accepted here, we want to be your best cheerleaders.
Effective with the publication of our Summer 2015 issue, we have established a forum for our contributing poets to participate in an ongoing on-line workshop, where they can submit draft poems and get feedback from other Rat’s Ass Review poets. There are currently 90-plus poets in this free workshop; if you are published with us, you will have the option to join them.
Again, to submit, email up to five poems to email@example.com.
Roderick Bates, Editor
Rat’s Ass Review
38 replies on “Submission Guidelines”
Hello Roderick –
Can one submit one long poem of some 20 pages?
Yes, but frankly unless it is astonishingly good I will probably lose interest after two or three pages.
To the editor, thank you for the laughs and the utmost honesty. I needed that today. It is absolutely refreshing.
Hi, hope this finds you well! Okay, so, I’m submitting some of my work, but was unsure which to chose. After reading what you said above, I thought I picked some good ones, and sent them to you. Then I read the article on the Trish Hopkins site, and it says you do like emotionally charged poetry etc, and now I wish I’d sent others. Would it be okay to submit 5 more? Even happy to ait until the others have been rejected, as there are a few I’d much rather have sent. Hope to hear from you soon.
You should get an email response shortly.
I love your submission guidance, it’s straight to the point!
Roderick?!! You rock !!!!
I will certainly be submitting a poem soon.
The next submissions period begins August 1st. Hope to see your work in the RAR inbox.
When does your next reading period begin?
I wanted to submit but keep missing your open submission periods.
The next submission period begins August 1st. I hope to see your work in the RAR inbox.
If I submit now, i.e., before your reading period begins, will you keep my stuff and read later or will you put it in the hole with the God poetry. PS: God would not be caught dead (ahem) reading my stuff. Thanks.
Sorry to take so long in responding.
I usually send back an email saying that if the person wants to be considered, he or she should submit again when the reading period begins.
I like the cut of your jib.
I like your amiable cantankerousness
and the rawness of your reality-advice
I’m going to submit–and prepare myself for the NO IN THUNDER
How badly will RAR punish me if I submit outside of the submission deadlines, such as submitting this month for the 2018 cycles?
Your first punishment (which has already been meted out) is that I will ignore my editorial duties between issues. The second punishment is that you risk that I will not include your submission in the next batch of poems I consider, not out of any desire to punish you, but simply because I may overlook it. It’s a long way from capital punishment.
OK, why am I spending so much time reading guidelines and (2) why am I reading the comments? And as Heath says, don’t ever compromise. Except, of course, if I get around to sending something.
Hey, Kelly Cherry is asking questions! I better send something in.
I’d like to submit but cannot find it listed on Submittable.
We do not use Submittable at present. Submisson details and timelines are listed above.
Damn! A day late and a dollar short. I would have LOVED to have at least had the chance to submit to this magazine. Something tells me next issue will be much more difficult to get into. I’ve already marked August 15, 2017 in my phone so I know when submissions begin again. Amazing mag here. I see many familiar faces and they are all Truly talented writers. It’s good to see a new magazine with Integrity. Kudos on what you’re doing with this. Keep it up and NEVER compromise!
You might still be a dollar short, but if you have poems which explore the problems of loving, you still have a day left. I will be accepting poems for the Love & Ensuing Madness collection until midnight Saturday night.
Whew! Love poems may be a problem. Lol!
Liked your ‘tude (mostly)
Who wouldn’t want to be
published by (I don’t give a…)
Rats Ass Review.
Dan the Cat looked at
your site, though, said,
Don’t push it too far, Pete!
I’ve clicked multiple times on your SUBMIT button and it doesn’t do anything. How should one submit?
I have recently learned that the email link does not work reliably for some email providers – gmail among them, ironically. However, you can submit directly via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I love your submission guidance, it’s straight to the point!
I chuckled all the way through the submission guidance. I don’t know about anyone else, but now I just have to get a piece into this journal. Along with Cliterature Journal. I just can’t wait to have Rats Ass Review and Cliterature Journal in my author bio.
challenge accepted; not sure which i want most – publication or insulting rejection letter from RAR ;-).
You rock it!
I too have some poems which I may try out with you. But too am curious about the desired artwork. Other than the acceptability of photographs there is no information. Do you only want thumbnail size as for the last two issues (the size would certainly limit the content). Do you want to continue the close relationship between art and title? And what do you mean by a modest print presence? and would that require art work?
There is limited information because I have only a limited idea of what I want. I would like the art to be large enough to serve as a t-shirt graphic with clear detail. I do like the current art’s close relationship between art and title (rats, sometimes ass foremost) but am not insistent on it. No cute kittens, probably no sunsets across the lake. How about this: something that an art editor at The New Yorker would love but would not quite dare to publish.
Do you pay for accepted work?
As we say above, “If you aren’t rejected, you’ll get the glory of having your work posted on this site, and nothing else.”
I have a couple of poems to submit but I am curious about the artwork category. Are you interested in Photography at all?
Any particular themes for this winter issue ?
Thanks in advance for your reply
Yes to photography. No real theme, although I did say this: “if you wish, you may submit work which touches on the season: light for the submission period ending in June, dark for the submission period ending in December.”
Looking forward to the poems. (somewhat more detailed response sent to JL directly)
Second time I have read this.
I don’t know if I will submit anything, but I have certainly enjoyed reading your poetry submission guidelines.
True, Denise, I too, enjoyed reading the submission guidelines. I’m also not only hesitant but scared to submit.
Well, as the editor of this apparently daunting website, let me encourage both of you to submit. The worst that can happen is that you won’t get published, which I must point out is your current situation.
OMG Just read the wonderful news about Rats Ass and where have I been Like Ingrid I will submit in August and I bet we will still be sheltered in place.You would think we would all have more time to write but I have two adult children and 5 grandchildren and none close to where we live but they are always sending photos videos or we are on face time or zoom and I feel like we are living with them but I am still writing publishing some but nothing to go wow Rick listen to this I am trying to get an art book together and the lead poem is one I published in Rats Ass anyway some of my closet friends are ones I have met on Rats Ass It’s wild but you set up a good place and a very exciting place so thank you Mare Leonard