Call for Submissions from the Poet Laureate of Virginia
From Sofia M. Starnes, Poet Laureate of Virginia, 2012-14:
We all have a poem with our name on it—not a poem that we’ve written, but a poem that seems addressed to us with unique immediacy, as if the poet had been thinking of us when he or she wrote the poem. When we find such a poem, the connection is intimate, and we keep the poem close at hand.
Not every poem speaks to us; not every poet has something to say that resonates within us. After all, poetry is an intimate dialogue between the poet and the reader. In the course of that dialogue, the poet eventually recedes, and all that is left is that nearest poem echoing inside the reader, in a chamber that is enlarged and deepened by shared sounds and acquired meaning.
Events as proximate and transformative as this don’t happen all the time. This is what makes each of them such a valued commodity. When they do happen, they matter.
The Nearest Poem Anthology project is aimed at creating a testimony to the immediacy of poetry and its closeness to everyday life.
Here’s what the anthology will contain:
Between fifty and a hundred poems, each one selected and submitted by a citizen of Virginia, to be quoted in their entirety. Please be sure to include the full text in your submission. (In those cases where reprint permissions are unavailable, the poem will be excerpted, as allowed for scholarly purposes.) Although shorter poems may have a greater chance of acceptance, due to space constraints, you should probably not begin your search with that premise in mind. Let your own story guide your selection.
The name of the poet and the source. Please let me know where you encountered the poem: an anthology? A collection? A literary journal?
A brief but persuasive explanation of why you selected the poem (no more than 200-250 words, please). This should include some information about yourself, but mostly why you feel that the poem has your name on it, why it speaks to you personally, why you would describe it as your “nearest poem.”
The compelling nature of your write-up—your story—will play an important role in the selection of the poems to be included.
Here’s where to send your submission or queries:
Direct your selected poem and cover letter, or any questions you may have, to Sofia Starnes, Poet Laureate of Virginia, to the following address: email@example.com.
A Word (.doc, .docx) or Rich Text Format (.rtf) attachment would work best for the submission, but pasting your submission to the text of your e-mail message also is acceptable.
Be sure to include your full contact information. This information will not be published, shared, or used for any purpose unconnected to this specific project. Only your name and your region (city, town, or county) will appear in the anthology.
Submissions will be accepted from the moment of this announcement until the time when enough poems and compelling stories have been selected for the anthology.
Here are some tips on how to find the poem with your name on it, the poem that could have been written for you:
Many of us already have our “nearest poem”, a poem that accompanied us at a crucial time in our lives or that pushed us to think differently—and more deeply—about decisions we were making. We may have a poem that we return to often, because it allows us to reassess our life, when we most need it, or because it re-energizes us. There may be a poem we keep close at hand, because it brings us peace, or another poem that fulfills an unspoken longing, every time we read it. You may already have a poem you seek out because of the joy it brings. If you have such a poem, please send it in with your comments, your story. If you have not yet discovered your poem, I invite you to embark on a poetic search.
In addition to local libraries, book stores, used-book exchanges, home libraries of friends and colleagues, etc.—there is (of course!) the web with its innumerable antennae. Remember that the poem you select does not have to be written by a Virginian; it may derive from any place and any era (as long as it is in English or in an English translation). Feel free to cast your net far and wide. Indeed, by visiting a mere handful of well-chosen sites, you will have countless poems at your fingertips, poems you will be able to read or even listen to, through web recordings.
Online journals and online versions of literary journals abound, and they are far too many to mention here, but I would highly recommend the following poetry sites:
- The Poetry Archive www.poetryarchive.org
- The Poetry Foundation www.poetryfoundation.org
- Poetry Daily www.poems.com
Everyone has a poem with their name on it. My hope is that The Nearest Poem Anthology will encourage you to discover yours.
If you would like a brochure of The Nearest Poem Anthology project, you can download a pdf file here.