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Exciting News Important Update More about TAB Submission Info

Tab Contributing Editors: Ruben Quesada & Lynne Thompson

Tab Journal welcomes Contributing Editors Ruben Quesada and Lynne Thompson as part of the editorial team for the July, September, and November 2022 issues. We’re grateful for the Poetry Foundation grant funding that supports these positions.

Ruben Quesada is the editor of Latinx Poetics: Essays on the Art of Poetry, out this year from University of Nebraska Press, and hosts the Mercy Street Readings. He visited Chapman University via Zoom last fall to speak with MFA students in the required Aspects of a Writer course. His energy and breadth of knowledge and experience made him a top choice for our new position. His latest poetry book is Revelations from Sibling Rivalry Press.

Lynne Thompson is the Poet Laureate of Los Angeles and has visited Chapman University several times, so she has a good sense of what we’re trying to accomplish with Tab Journal and how she can make a difference. A lawyer by training, Thompson sits on the boards of the Los Angeles Review of Books and Cave Canem and is the Chair of the Board of Trustees at Scripps College. Her latest book is Fretwork (2019), winner of the Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize.

In our grant proposal, we wrote:

Tab Journal requests a grant from the Poetry Foundation specifically to continue our diversity and inclusion initiatives. A diverse pool of submissions flourishes based upon several factors: the journal’s self-representation, credibility of staff, integrity of equitable policies and practices, analysis of and response to demographic information, broadly written calls, expansive networks (visibility in BIPOC spaces), and incentives. 

We consciously chose not to use the guest editor model, which too easily shifts responsibility for inclusion away from the organization’s underlying structures, policies, and practices. Instead, our contributing editors are part of the conversation about how Tab Journal reaches potential readers and contributors, how staff read and respond to submissions, and which poems end up in the published issues. We’ve defined the contributing editors as collaborators rather than advisors, and we’ve had some frank conversations about the challenges we face and the possibilities we envision.

One of the first changes we made was to add optional demographic questions to the submission form.

Submissions opened in February, with our greatest one-month influx of submissions. At least two staff read each submission anonymously, and those submissions that make it to the next round are read by the Contributing Editors, Editor, and Creative Director, who will collaboratively make decisions about what goes in which issue. The decisions we make together will be evident in the published issues later this year, but we’re also excited about how the conversations are shaping the way we do things and suggesting future goals.

In the last couple of weeks, submissions have slowed down a bit, so now is a great time to send something our way! Keep in mind that, because we give a lot of attention to design and production, we work several months ahead of each issue’s publication date. Once we fill the November issue, we’ll close submissions–and that could happen in May. So, get yourself over to Submittable this month.

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Events Important Update

March: Autoimmune Awareness Month at Tab

March is Autoimmune Awareness Month. Tab Journal acknowledges the many poets who have and written about autoimmune disease.

Autoimmunity, Chronic Illness, Poetry

One of Editor Anna Leahy’s early poetry professors was Mary Swander, who sought treatment for allergies in 1983 and instead ended up with autoimmune dysregulation in which her body couldn’t tolerate certain foods, pollutants, and orders. In 1998, Swander edited a collection of essays by writers with chronic illness. Much and little has changed since then.

Here’s an excerpt from “In a Dream,” an earlier poem by Mary Swander but one that might be thought to foreshadow chronic illness:

Your feel it diving into you,
lodge between muscle and bone,
move one spiny fin.
Your whole body goes numb.

Poet Suzanne Edison also edited an autoimmunity-themed collection that combines her poems with visual explorations. Moreover, The Body Lives Its Undoing includes not only the perspectives of patients but also family, physicians, and researchers.

A couple of years ago, Bustle ran a list thirteen poems about chronic illness, featuring work by Hieu Minh Nguyen, Max Ritvo, and others.

Autoimmunity, Covid, Poetry

model of pink coronavirus spike protein

Earlier this month, poet and nonfiction writer Meghan O’Rourke wrote in Scientific American, “When the first wave of coronavirus infections hit the U.S. in March 2020, what kept me up at night was not only the tragedy of the acute crisis but also the idea that we might soon be facing a second crisis—a pandemic of chronic illness triggered by the virus.” O’Rourke argues in this article and in her new book The Invisible Kingdom that covid long-haulers are a game-changer for all those who’ve faced autoimmune dysregulation, the difficulty of getting a diagnosis, and the frustration of inadequate treatment and research funding.

O’Rourke’s own autoimmune disorder emerged in the wake of her mother’s terminal illness, something she wrote about in The Long Goodbye and in poems like “Ever.” The opening lines of the poem “The Night Where You No Longer Live” suggests such a shift in well-being:

Was it like lifting a veil
And was the grass treacherous, the green grass

Did you think of your own mother

Was it like a virus
Did the software flicker

And was this the beginning

Jen Karetnik, a contributor to Tab Journal (Volume 8, Issue 4), has written about the covid long haul at About Place Journal. The opening lines capture the sense of chronic autoimmune dysregulation:

lignum vitae, wood
so dense it doesn’t float

I’ve been reduced to not being able to stand up in the shower 

poetic, considering how much
the wood has given to ocean travel

Even reading a book is challenging and exhausting

an escaped ornamental
pruned to maintain a narrower profile

I don’t understand what’s happening in my body

Kadijah Queen wrote of the pandemic for Harper’s:

Asthma and other chronic health issues keep both my son and my mother at risk; my mother takes so much medication we have an Excel spreadsheet to keep track. They’ve sheltered in place for eight weeks. I’m at risk, too, but I try not to think about it.

Used to be I could rest through fibromyalgia flares, recover. Now I depend on balms and pills to keep going through the pain. Dr. Bob’s, vapor rub, Papa Rozier balm, Aleve PM, Benadryl, charcoal bath salts, lavender oil. Make a pleasure of coffee or espresso for the fatigue. Bless Nespresso machines. Elvazio, Melozio, Hazelino, Voltesso. Solelio for something lighter, if I have to wake up but know I’ll need sleep later.

Her latest poetry book, Anodyne. It’s title refers to something that alleviates pain. Anodyne won the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. Queen, who has fibromyalgia, told Boulder Weekly the following when the book came out:

I think in terms of health and disease and disability, there’s this really negative language around it,” Queen says. “When in fact we’re all gonna deal with health issues, so why are we hiding it, trying to suppress talking about it, saying, ‘It’ll be OK,’ or just medicating it? And why is the language around it so ugly? Why do we not have more natural and compassionate ways of talking about the aging process? Why are we not creating more places for care that don’t feel like you’re just dropping your parent off somewhere to die? … I think we’re missing real care.

If O’Rourke is right, we’ll understand more in the months and years to come. And yet Edison’s words from “Here, Ellipses” will always be a crucial question:

And we wonder
Who is essential expendable

And we call each other saying—How
you holding up
How you holding
How you
How

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Events Important Update More about TAB

February: Low Vision Awareness Month at Tab

February is Low Vision Awareness Month. It’s a good time for Tab Journal to share our efforts over the last three years to welcome readers with low vision to the poetry we publish. Here’s an update, an overview, a trajectory–from Creative Director Claudine Jaenichen and Editor Anna Leahy.

Tab Journal‘s Vision of Low Vision

Because design has always been enormously important to how we approach poetry, Tab Journal isn’t like other literary journals. We consider ourselves designers and curators. When we say, “space before text,” we mean that design thinking extends both to textual content and to the space the work creates. We understand that form, format, and design of text and space can create various reading experiences. As part of our design thinking, Tab Journal is committed to creating an increasingly inclusive literary space, welcoming work that represents a variety of approaches and aesthetics, including work from those whose voices have been traditionally underrepresented in literary publishing.

Why consider low vision?

If you have high vision, it’s important to keep in mind that millions of Americans don’t. Many of us use assistive devices like contact lenses or glasses, but those devices don’t work equally as well for everyone. Take a look at versions of what those with age-related macular degeneration or cataracts see, and consider what these videos suggest about the various ways people see the world.

What does this have to do with poetry?

Tab Journal‘s January 2019 issue was printed on velum that allowed content from other pages to seep through. This meant that reading a page was filled with external visual noise that the reader had to negotiate. We designed an intentionally challenging reading experience in which ease couldn’t be taken for granted. Moreover, the type size was only 8 points. That’s small but not unusual for books and magazines (though visual size is more accurately measured as x-height).

As we reflect on our literary journal’s history and process, we look to this visually noisy issue as a pivotal moment. We realized that we had excluded readers who can, or would, engage with the poems.

At the same time, we were switching from the clunky Open Journals System platform to the current WordPress-based platform. We realized that our online issues—the PDF files of our archives—were impossible for e-readers to follow.

Access in the form of readability matters, perhaps especially in poetry. Because each word of a poem matters, readability is important.

What changed?

Beginning with our print issue in 2020, Tab Journal shifted the visual experience and design to prioritize low vision standards. Low vision standards for graphic design include clear headlines, color to ensure enough contrast and color pairing to accommodate people with color blindness, typographic legibility and readability, and printing surfaces that minimize glare.

Tab Journal now uses a standard type size range between 13 and 18 points in the annual printed issues and considers the fonts and weights (e.g. bold, medium, regular) can be applied for optimum legibility. Typefaces that are too wide or too narrow (such as condensed fonts) impede legibility. In the 2022 issue, we used Atkinson Hyperlegible font designed by Linus Boman with the Braille Institute. You can download the font for free at https://brailleinstitute.org/staging2/freefont.

Tab Journal is also minimizing the use of all capital letters. Using all caps can sometimes be read as individual letters by assistive technology instead of as words. That’s why we now use Tab Journal as much as possible instead of the official name (TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics) under which the journal’s ISBN is registered. We continue to consider the research on reading ease and speed as well as options for using all caps or other visual signals, knowing that WordPress.org defaults are also part of our constraints.

Readability is also based on line lengths and column width. In poetry, column widths and the line lengths are determined by the poem, and we make sure that typographic attributes represent the poem in the most legible format.

What does this mean?

We offer two issues below of examples that demonstrate both an inaccessible format (2019) and low vision complaint issue (2020).

What’s next?

As part of our effort to ensure an equitable experience of our journal for everyone, we are developing more training in 508-compliance to meet a wider range of adaptive and assistive technologies. Section 508 was signed into law as part of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 to ensure that access to electronic and information technology is created and accessible to people with disabilities.

This year, we have applied for external funding to further our efforts in low vision accessibility and other ways we can increase equity and inclusion overall in literary journal production. We recognize the need for the literary culture to account for accessibility when we consider resource allocation.

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Important Update New Issue

Print Issue and more!

Every year, Tab Journal launches its new volume with an innovative print issue brimming with new poems. This year’s volume is our 10th, and we have a glittery, striking design to match this celebration of poetry.

Here’s a SNEAK PEAK at the NEW ISSUE in our conversation with Becky Tuch at new episode of Lit Mag News. We also talk about Tab Journal‘s approach to poetry, design, and inclusion. We’ve also updated the website to reflect this year’s design.

Traditionally, in the second week of January, we mail the print issue to all contributors ever. This year, however, the pandemic-instigated paper supply chain problems delayed the printing of our new issue. Don’t worry! The boxes are here, and Tab staff are folding the poems into the booklet format and stuffing the envelopes.

Bonus! You can now listen to all the poems in this issue on the Current Issue page. Poems by Wendy Taylor Carlisle, Kai Coggin, Kylie Gellatly, Hilary King, Jenny Qi, Bibinur Salykova, and Donna Spruijt-Metz.

If you’re interested in using the January 2022 print issue in a poetry or graphic design class this spring, please use the Contact form to request copies. If we have extras, we’re happy to share them with curious readers and librarians.

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Exciting News Important Update

What’s New for 2021?

Each year, Tab Journal makes changes to how we do things. We use a different design for the print issue each year and carry elements of that design into the online issues. Our staff evolves. Our contributors evolve. But there’s even more to it.

In 2019, for example, we published the print issue in January and then spent the rest of the year on hiatus as we updated our Archives for accessibility. In 2020, we launched this new website with an accessible-ready theme/template and made style decisions based on accessibility. Admittedly, it was a little uncomfortable at first for those of us steeped in design principles from days of yore to allow widow and orphan lines, but we understand that when editors “fix” these traditional design “flaws,” e-readers get confused. At Tab Journal, we try to make bold leaps and challenge our habits. We continue to take specific actions in hopes of doing better each year.

For 2021, Tab Journal now requests pronouns on the Submittable form and includes pronouns in contributor notes and staff bios. This change in submission policy and style guide reflects our larger commitment to fostering inclusion through a literary project that welcomes a variety of experiences, backgrounds, and aesthetics.

We have also expanded the use of audio recording for all poems we publish, including those in the print issue. While many readers may appreciate hearing the poems read by the poets themselves or our staff, the decision is driven by our hope that those with low vision have increased access to the creative work we publish. This year, Jason Thornberry serves in a two-year funded Tab staff position focused on diversity and inclusion. He writes book reviews, reads poem submissions, does the audio recordings when poets prefer, and represents Tab Journal on two disability groups on campus. Jason is a neurodivergent writer and survivor of traumatic brain injury who is publishing a lot of his own writing in addition to working on Tab Journal.

This spring, we will invite and train additional staff to expand the range of experiences, backgrounds, and aesthetics that our staff represents. An expanded staff will also allow us to develop a stronger social media plan over the course of this year and encourage submissions that represent the diversity of voices in our culture. We hope you’ll keep reading and sharing Tab Journal as this project continues to evolve.

If you’d like to get monthly updates from Tab Journal, including special calls for submissions, please sign up for Tab Musings.

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Exciting News Important Update

Free Copies of Tab for Classes

Because of the pandemic, Tab Journal‘s ability to distribute copies of this year’s print issue was limited. We’re excited that Tab Staff will be able to send batches out again in November for class use.

Professors, teachers, community workshop leaders, and librarians who want to distribute copies can use the Contact form to request a batch of the 2020 print issue of Tab Journal; we’ll need your address and the number of copies needed. We also have copies of print issues from 2019 (translucent brochure) and 2018 (package of postcards) available. We realize that classes and literary events may be virtual and are happy to send copies to have on hand as a sign of optimism for gathering in person again.

We hope to welcome requests for individual copies soon as well.

Each January print issue is uniquely designed and, therefore, has a long shelf life as a literary object. The 2020 print issue features ten poems in an issue that readers can assemble. Because we aren’t able to pay contributors, Tab Journal doesn’t charge a submission fee and is distributed at no cost to readers.

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Important Update Submission Info

Submissions Open!

Subscribe to Tab Musings for the latest goings-on!

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.

To submit to Tab Journal, use our Submittable portal.

open notebook with binder clip and pen
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Important Update

Subscribe to Tab Musings

Sign up for the once-a-month newsletter from Tab Journal, including info about submissions and new issues, Tab Author news, Tabula Poetica events, tips for poets, and more.

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Exciting News Important Update Submission Info

(Pandemic) Update

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.

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Important Update More about TAB

Statement of Solidarity

On June 6, 2020, Tab Journal tweeted its solidarity with and support for the protesters calling for social justice and change in the United States. We can do better, and we understand that good intentions are not enough. In its decision-making, Tab Journal strives to become increasingly inclusive. The Editor and the Creative Director advocate for greater diversity and inclusion both in literary culture and communities and on the Chapman University campus, where this project is housed.

As an interdisciplinary project housed in Wilkinson College, Tab Journal aligns itself with the Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter issued by the Interdisciplinary Minors, excerpted here.

 [Tab Journal stands] in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and Black communities across the country. We deplore the horrific murders of unarmed Black people by the police and the systemic racism in police forces, in educational and legal institutions, and throughout society. We support the protestors calling on us to say the names of victims of a compromised system of criminal justice: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Read, Tony McDade, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and many more.

[…] We must teach and learn this history and the dynamics of this present moment with an investment in education for a future of less shame, less suffering, less fear, less hate, and more justice, more hope, more peace.

We encourage everyone, including those of us who belong to marginalized communities, to hold honest conversations about anti-Blackness and discrimination with our own families, friends, and communities. Covid-19 continues to expose what we have already known to be the racial and social inequalities that our communities live through daily. We witnessed the rise of anti-Asian rhetoric and violence, disregard for “essential” immigrant workers, and staggering infection rates among Native Americans. We need to reimagine what it means to stand in solidarity with each other.