Rat’s Ass Review will accept art submissions throughout the year, and poetry submissions during the two following scheduled submission periods in 2024:
January 1 through February 1 for the Spring-Summer Issue,
July 1 through August 1 for the Fall-Winter issue.
Rat’s Ass Review accepts simultaneous submissions; however, we do ask that you notify us promptly if your work is accepted elsewhere. I will make my decisions no later than a few days after the end of the submission period, and usually much sooner. Poems will appear in print shortly after the end of the submission period.
Rat’s Ass Review does not accept material which has been published previously, either online or in print, with the exception of material which you have posted only to your own blog or Facebook page. By submitting to Rat’s Ass Review you are assuring that you hold the rights to the work, that the work was not generated in part or in whole by AI, and that you are granting Rat’s Ass Review the rights to publish the submitted work online and in print book and e-book format versions of the issue. After publication, all rights revert to the author. We only accept electronic submissions.
To submit: send up to five poems as a doc or docx file to [email protected]. Please include your name in the title of the document, for example Frost, Robert 3 Poems.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.
For those women poets who have read this far, let me offer in advance this excellent advice from Kelli Russell Agodon, co-founder of Two Sylvias Press. Actually, the advice is sound for men as well as women, although perhaps this is one of the rare times when excess testosterone serves to guide one toward a good choice rather than a bad one.
“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 [email protected]. Please include your name in the title of the document, for example Frost, Robert 3 Poems.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 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. In February of 2013 we added a second workshop to accommodate the number of poets interested in participating. If you are published with us, you will have the option to join them. The workshops are free and very active.
Rat’s Ass Review is looking for original artwork for our covers, and for inclusion in the body of the issue itself. We are historically an online journal, but as of late 2023 we do have a print presence. We may also use our cover art on items as t-shirts and coffee mugs. All we can offer for remuneration for your creativity and effort is an appreciative platform, careful attribution of your work, and cheerful promotion of you and your work. Submit a jpeg image of your original art, which you certify is your own original work, and which has not appeared in print or online before.
Art submissions are open all year. Although we work hard to make decisions on poems within a few days of receipt, we will necessarily be slower with cover art. Since we only select two images each year, you may wait up to six months to hear from us about your image. If and when it becomes clear that an image is not a good fit for Rat’s Ass Review, I will let the artist know. In no case should an artist have to wait longer than six months to hear back. /RB
If RAR is between submission periods as you are reading this, aspiring poets have a couple of choices. You can wait patiently for us to begin our next submission period, or you can try another market. If you just can’t wait, we suggest that you visit Duotrope for a catalog of other poetry venues.