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Tab Journal is now open for submissions!
Tab Journal is now seeking poems for our March and July issues. In addition, we consider critical and creative essays and art–poetry pieces. If your work has something to do with poetry, send it our way.
To get a better idea of the range of what Tab Journal publishes, browse through the Archives. In a recent Tab Musings post, we also recently discussed “How We Read Poems.” You may also want to take a look at the increasingly diverse Tab Staff. We welcome submissions from writers with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, voices, and aesthetics.
The Tab Staff also write book reviews and interviews. If you are an author or a publisher with a book forthcoming in 2021, use the Contact form to query. While we prefer hard copies for review, we are currently restricted on office use because of the pandemic.
Earlier this summer, Editor Anna Leahy’s craft essay about punctuation in poetry appeared at Waxwing. This essay was originally developed as a presentation for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference (but was not presented because of the pandemic). Leahy opens:
As a poet, I’m intrigued by the tension between the clarity of standard grammar and the innovation that can emerge when grammatical conventions are elided or subverted. I spend an inordinate amount of time on social media defending the Oxford comma, yet when I put my own pen to poem, I treat each comma as a choice. When I read poems, grammatical mistakes irritate me, unless they don’t. Poetry’s punctuation follows what I’d like to call the principle of full expression.
At Tab Journal, we read for full expression, not applying one simple or objective standard or another but, instead, looking at each poem according to the terms it sets for itself on the page or screen and aloud. Later in that essay, Leahy refers also to “the full expression of lived experience” that a poem represents. The range of lived experience in this world is why Tab Journal seeks poems that, together in each issue and over a given year’s volume, demonstrate aesthetic, topical, and experiential variety.
The poem submissions are first read by staff, all of whom are alums of or current students in the MFA in Creative Writing program at Chapman University. This year, that’s been Liz Harmer, Daniel Miess, Laila Shikaki, Jason Thornberry, and Tryphena Yeboah. Each submission is read by at least two staff, often three, after which the editor makes final decisions. Any one staffer’s enthusiastic yes is taken seriously so that a yes is never merely canceled out by another staffer’s no. The process also allows for the maybe—an interest, a questioning. Because the staff represents diverse perspectives and aesthetics, Tab Journal uses this approach to the individual yes or maybe to challenge the status quo and to avoid drowning out an underrepresented point of view.
Of course, we end up with more good poems than we publish, so final decisions involve additional considerations. How will the contents of an issue play off each other—complement, contradict, challenge, talk with, and build upon each other? What does a curated group of poems make together? The 2020 print issue, in fact, can be literally built out of the poems that are its contents.
We also consider how each poem will appear visually in the format Tab Journal has chosen as part of its design constraints. Because we use pdf files instead of blog formatting, the online issues allow for a great deal of agility within the constraint of the screen’s page size and orientation. They’re also downloadable. While we value consistency, we are not tied, for instance, to a set margin for the sake of having a set margin, when a particular poem challenges that aspect of our style guide. Formatting decisions are guided first by accessibility and then by balancing the poem’s aesthetics with the journal’s format.
Finally, each year, the Editor and the Creative Director look back at the design and the contents to understand the journal’s trajectory and make changes. We’ve selected the content for this year’s remaining issues, and we’ve now begun that process of looking back over the year. Creating a completely new design for each January print issue forces us to reconsider our assumptions, recognize our strengths and weaknesses, and take new risks.
Tab Journal strives to be a project where poetry meets design in inclusive reading experiences. We read poems with that vision in mind. And we ask you to join us in this reading experience!
Tab Journal staffers continue to work remotely this summer. While the pandemic slowed us down at first, we’re up to speed now, and the July issue is in production. We’re busy reviewing the submissions of Book-Spine Poems for Pandemic Times to be featured in the September issue. And we’re already filling the November issue and discussing design possibilities for next year’s print issue scheduled for January.
Because of all this, poem submissions are on hold for the time being, and we’ll put a hold on all other submissions soon. If you plan to submit to Tab Journal, you’ll have to wait a bit. Check back in August, when submissions will likely reopen.
Also in August, the dates for the Tabula Poetica series will be announced. Each visiting poet gives both a Talk and a Reading, which are open to the public and connected to both creative writing and literature classes at Chapman University. The events this year will be hosted virtually, so we’re working this summer on the format and platform to ensure an engaging and accessible literary experience for everyone who wants to participate.
If you haven’t yet read the Current Issue of Tab Journal, please take the time soon. The May issue features poems about the California coast by K-12 students that will make you smile.
Also, please follow Tab Journal on Twitter and Facebook. You can sign up for our occasional newsletter at the bottom of any page of the website.
Tab Journal Special Feature: Book-Spine Poems for Pandemic Times Submission Deadline: June 15, 2020 See guidelines on our Submittable page.
For this special project on book-spine pandemic poems, Tab Journal seeks work that is composed and formed by stacking books so that each title serves as a line in the poem. The subject or theme of the poem should be related to the global pandemic and the ways it affects our lives. As such, these poems will become a curated archive of our bookshelves during this historical moment as well as found-and-constructed literary and visual art using specific constraints across the many possible iterations.
In recent weeks, you may have seen some book-spine poems for pandemic times on social media, but this sort of project isn’t new. In 2013, New York-based artist Nina Kathchadourian published a collection of photographs book spines called Sorted Books. In the book’s introduction, Brian Dillon writes, “it is as though the books have convened of their own accord like plants or insects—following secret or, in the case of more explicitly comic or narrative groupings, not-so-secret attractions.” We at Tab Journal have long been interested in this sort project that explores the relationship between text and image, various constraints that writers and artists choose or face, and ways “that books are objects designed to be handled.”
To submit a book-spine poem, please include:
a photograph of the book stack
the typed text of the poem
What to keep in mind as you prepare your book-spine poem for submission:
Avoid clutter in the background of the photograph.
The photograph should be high enough resolution (at least 300dpi at 100% scale) that it doesn’t get blurry when viewed at 4” x 6” size.
While the book titles are key, you might consider the typeface and spine color as well, or you may want to experiment with options if you have hardbacks with paper covers. Remember, for this project, image is text, and text is image.
The typed poem should maintain the line breaks established by the stack of books. However, feel free to consider punctuation, stanza breaks, and indents.
The text of poems published in Tab Journal will use our usual typeface family, Verdana, which includes italics and bold.
For this project only, it’s okay if the photograph (with or without typed text) has appeared on social media. However, the work you submit here must not have been published or distributed beyond your personal social media.
Chapman University (the institutional home of Tab Journal) shall have rights to publish electronically work accepted for this special feature. Publication rights revert to the author upon publication in Tab Journal, but we do retain permission to republish and to submit to other outlets such as the Pushcart Prizes. In addition, we require poets whose work is accepted to provide an audio file or give Tab Journal permission to make a recording.
TAB staff are immersed in reading submissions now, and we’d like to see more this month. We have spots left in the very next issue, and your work might be just what we’re looking for. In fact, we’re especially interested in seeing more work from writers of color, work from writers of all genders, and work from writers with disabilities. Please share our this call for submissions with writers you know.
We’re looking for poems, of course, and you can read around in the TAB Archives to see what a wide aesthetic range we publish. Our Criticism Editor is looking for work that ranges from scholarly essay with a works cited to personal essay, as long as it has something to do with poetry. And if you have an interview with a poet or a poetry collaboration with a visual artist, we’d like to consider it.
Please read our submission guidelines before submitting. We’d like to be faced with so much good work in the next few weeks that our final decisions about the next couple of issues are really difficult.
If you’ll be at the AWP Conference in San Antonio, we’d be happy to talk with you in person. Stop by Bookfair Booth #1543 to pick up a free copy of our print issue.
TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics is now open for submissions, and we’re now using Submittable. We consider poetry, scholarly and creative essays that address poetry, interviews with poets, poetry-artwork hybrids, and other cool stuff. We don’t charge a fee to submit, and we consider simultaneous submissions.
Before you submit, we recommend that you do two things.
First, read around in the Archives. We’ve spent the last year making the archives more accessible and moving them to this website platform. Sorting through all the wonderful work we’ve published since 2013 has reinvigorated us and deepened our gratitude for the writers who’ve shared their work as part of TAB.
Second, read the submission guidelines. And share them with other writers who might be interested in what we’re doing at TAB.
Our staff looks forward to a pool of submissions that will make for some tough decisions.
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In January 2020, TAB is re-launching with this new website, newly accessible issue archives, and a Submittable portal.
TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics started in 2013 as a collaboration between poet and essayist Anna Leahy and informational designer Claudine Jaenichen. You can find out more about the project and the staff on the About pages of the website.
The relationship of design and text has driven this project from the get-go and continues to shape how TAB creates a distinctive reading experience. We recognize that print and online formats work differently.
In our print issues, we have consciously used design to make readers aware of the materiality of text and the challenges of access. Our January 2020 print issue, however, explores issues of accessibility. In addition, the TAB archives have been updated for increased accessibility. The new TAB website (using an accessibility-ready theme) will change the look and feel of our online issues. TAB welcomes new design constraints and opportunities, for reading is always a designed experience. We urge you to read more about how design drives TAB in our Design Statement.
On December 9, 2019, Tabula Poetica celebrated its 10th anniversary with a reading by more than a dozen poets at Chapman University. Read more about this events at the Los Angeles Times. The Tabula Poetica reading series occurs every fall, with talks and readings by visiting poets and a reading by MFA in Creative Writing students. We look forward to the next decade of varied poetic voices and perspectives as part of the Chapman Experience.