How We Make Selections

by Victor David Sandiego | Created: Jun 16, 2017

One thing that I have done since the founding of Subprimal Poetry Art/Music four years ago is to talk about Subprimal in both the singular and the plural. That’s mostly because – although it’s chiefly me running the show – we have had guest editor John C. Mannone and input from various other writers. Plus it sounds better, it’s easier, and I do also pass through a variety of perspectives from day to day. Or from morning to afternoon; it’s an irregular cycle.

So when I=we receive submissions, I usually start reading after about 50 have arrived. I’m a deadline-oriented procrastinator. Sometimes I sort the pending list by name, other times by date, or title. I get to things randomly. Except if you’ve been in Subprimal before. Then we wait a bit, to see what new voices bring that might set the tone for an issue.

Tone’s important. I get real pleasure finding a compelling and unorthodox piece – and when I do it begins to dress  the stage for the issue. Meanwhile, subs move onto stage 2 consideration, or are flagged “likely no”, or “hard no”. A hard no is just what it says - pieces that don't work for us for a variety of reasons: nicely done but not our type, not done well, sloppy, etc. A likely no is usually an author who imo shows promise, yet the work isn't quite ready. This can happen also with pieces that have moved forward to stage 2 consideration, and - depending on time and how things go - we may reach out to see about revisions.

Pieces continue to come in. Things continue to get categorized. And we start going back to the stage 2 pieces and either winnowing them down or moving them on to stage 3 or 4 or x. Maybe dipping into the likely no to double check. It sort of happens all at once and whirls around in erratic orbits, but eventually settles into an issue comprised of complementary sounds.

Which is why sometimes a piece get rejected after having been under consideration for a fairly long time – or why we may turn down authors who have previously appeared in Subprimal Poetry Art/Music. Plus, not only is the process is imperfect and subjective, but also, for budget reasons, we consider the number of pieces that will appear in any particular issue. Running more on love of great pieces and Cuban coffee than cash.

So, I hope that helps you see through the window a bit towards how we do things. And, as always, if you have any questions, suggestions, concerns, etc., please get in touch.