Starting in 2017, we are changing the theme of this site to Heartland: 150 Poems of Love, Resistance, and Solidarity. We invite you to submit vivid and strong poems of the love, resistance, and/or solidarity we need to cultivate from the heartland to ripple out across this country, continent, and world. We use “heartland” as where this site lives geographically (in Kansas), but we welcome writers from around the country and world.
Editors for the new year include Annette Hope Billings, Denise Low-Weso, Bill Sheldon, Izzy Wasserstein, Maril Crabtree, Ronda Miller, Tyler Sheldon, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Laura Lee Washburn, Lori Baker Martin, Pat Daneman, Z Hall, Roy Beckemeyer, Melissa Fite Johnson, James Benger, Roy Beckemeyer, Dennis Etzel, Jr., Al Ortolani, and Jose Faus.
1) Theme: Given the impossible and miraculous, terrifying and surprising times we live in, we are called as poets to speak from the heartland for the heart of our country and world. Writing itself can be a political and cultural act as well as a spiritual and artistic practice. The polarities and fragmentation in our country call for poetry that brings us greater vision of how to grow our capacity for love and action, and strengthens our commitment to the sources and communities that sustain us. In a time when so many peoples, and the earth itself, are threatened with words and deeds, we invite poetry that teaches us to stand strong with those facing discrimination and marginalization, and to overcome hatred with love and vision. We also invite poetry about resisting what we know to be unjust or immoral, and standing in solidarity with more than the usual suspects in our lives. Please consider poems about what or who calls us to love — truly, madly, deeply — and how this love calls us to resistance and solidarity as well as however you interpret the words “love,” “resistance,” and/or “solidarity” in relation to our time. We call for excellent poems that help us lift one another up, envision a positive future for all peoples and/or our planet, and grapple with the hard moments and challenging causes of our time. Note: We are not looking for poetry that attacks anyone/anything, or adds to the divides or hatred of our time. Thoughtful parodies and satire that speak to our theme are, however, welcome.
2) Quality: Poetry is most powerful when it’s true to what each poem innately is rather than any specific ideas the poet is trying to convey through the poem. In this respect, we encourage you to send high-quality poems rather than political manifestos (unless the manifesto is a kick-ass poem like Wendell Berry’s “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”). Your poetry also need not be explicitly political — feel free to send poetry that speaks in any way about the theme. We share these sites for examples of poetry that speaks to current issues of the time: The Poetry Foundation, Poets.org, and 7 Poems That Shook the World). You can also find strong examples of poetry that speaks to social, ecological, and other issues in the poetry of Pattiann Rogers, William Stafford, Adrienne Rich, Denise Levertov, Audre Lorde, Grace Paley, Langston Hughes, Richard Blanco, June Jordan, Edward Hirsch, Martin Espada, Pablo Neruda, Muriel Rukeyser, Jean Valentine, Walt Whitman, Claude McKay, Susan Griffin, and so many other writers. In other words, please send us your strongest work aiming for the most powerful poems you can write.
3) Submission: Send up to five poems, a 50-word bio on you, a jpeg photo to Kspoetlaureate@gmail.com. The poems and bio must be in Word or RTF. Please do not send poems with many indented lines as those indentations tend to be impossible to program correctly on this website. Please submit all poems and bio in ONE Word or RTF document. Note: Previously-published or posted material is fine to submit so long as you own the rights and give us information on where the poem first appeared.
4) Process: Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg will do the first reading on the poems, and forward all the poems she selected to be considered for monthly to our editors. If your poems are not selected, please don’t take offense: this is the nature of literary submissions. Monthly editors will then contact you within the next year if your poem is to be published. If, in the meantime, you publish the poem elsewhere, please tell us, and we will remove it from the selection possibilities.
5) If You Had Poems Submitted for the Kansas Time + Place Theme: Some poems submitted for Kansas Time & Place will be kept in the folder for editors to choose from for our 2017 poems. If you had a poem accepted by Caryn to be passed onto editors to consider, please be in touch if you need to withdraw the poem.