Poets who take the trouble to send work to magazines are doing the field a favor. It shouldn’t be hard. Feel free to use the form below, but we’ll look at poems that reach us in e-mails, by snail mail, or by carrier pigeon. If you do it the old way, please do provide return postage (self-addressed, stamped envelope) or properly trained return pigeon. If using the portal or e-mail, please combine poems in a single Word file or pdf.
Whatever form submission takes, it is helpful to put contact data on each page (no need for anonymity) and to include a short autobiographical statement. Though five poems is a good traditional number, we really don’t care how many or few you send. Translations are welcome, especially from poets not named Rilke. Cover letters or statements are welcome, not required. We use art occasionally but don’t have a place for reviews.
We do look at simultaneous submissions. The cards are stacked enough against poets without asking them to wait around for dawdling editors. But we now read on a monthly cycle and strive to respond within two. We also look at previously published poems, but please make these your very favorites.
BU is essentially a non-paying market. We would love to change that. Contributors get two copies, and the poet whose work is chosen to lead off the issue, paired with frontispiece art, receives an honorarium of fifty dollars. It’s a start.
What we like: BU is known for welcoming formal verse, and this welcome continues. We’re impressed by poems that read as though the poet had simply thought in the form, without forced rhymes, weak words inserted to satisfy the meter, and the like. Every formal writer knows how much effort goes into seeming effortlessness.
But we look for no lesser effort in non-formal verse. We’re alert for the original metaphorical image that may take a moment to prove itself just right; the unexpected word that says more than the familiar one; the sharply observed detail that brings a thing alive. We do not tolerate clichés.
We do tolerate a bit of mystery. We don’t share the widespread allergy toward poems that require rereading or resist paraphrase: al dente poems, you might call them. Given a choice, we’ll take the puzzling piece over the flat one. The uneven poem with a few resonant lines may edge out a smoother but more conventional one. Caution might not pay!
Finally, here’s a little practical secret: Because of our format, we’re always in need of pieces of five to ten lines to fill out pages.