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More about TAB Submission Info

How We Read Poems

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.

Stacked tower from printed panels in the Vol. 8, 2020 print issue

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!

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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.

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Exciting News Submission Info

Call: Book-Spine Poems

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:

  1. a photograph of the book stack
  2. the typed text of the poem
submit

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.

Stack of Books so that titles make a poem
Being Mortal

The first cell,
an elegant defense—
I am, I am, I am
all the wild hungers,
an arrangement of skin.
Be with me always
in accelerated silence.
The body keeps the score.
In the lateness of the world,
minor feelings
meander, spiral, explode.
When death takes something from you,
give it back.

from the bookshelf of Editor Anna Leahy
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Exciting News New Issue

New Issue: Our Youngest Poets!

Every May, Tab Journal publishes the winners and honorable mentions in the California Coastal Commission’s K-12 Poetry Contest. This year, we feature 19 of the state’s creative kids writing about the California coast, including audio recordings of many of them reading their original work. Let these poems in the Current Issue inspire you!

As part of the judging process, students in poetry at Chapman University read poems by young poets from kindergarten through high school to select the finalists. Annie Frankel, the California Coastal Commission’s Education Coordinator, oversees the final judging and works with the staff of Tab Journal to bring the poems to a wider audience.

Congratulations to the winners and honorable mentions of the 2020 Coastal Poetry Contest!

Table of content for vol.8 issue 3
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Events Exciting News

TAB: MFA Poetry Reading

Poetry students in the Chapman University MFA in Creative Writing will read from their work on Tuesday, May 19, at 7pm (PDT). Because of the global pandemic, this end-of-year celebration reading will be held online and hosted by Jim Blaylock (acting director) David Krausman (graduate programs coordinator).

TAB is housed at Chapman University, and students and alums of the MFA program serve on the staff. It’s difficult not to be able to celebrate their growth and achievements in person this May, so we’re making do with the opportunities we have. We’re incredibly proud of these students individually and together.

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Exciting News Important Update New Issue

New Issue, New Name

Table of content for vol.8 issue 2

March Issue published!

We are excited to share the March 2020 issue, featuring work by Nathaniel Dolton-Thornton, Vandana Khanna, Nancy Kuhl, January Pearson, Lois Roma-Deeley, Cecilia Woloch, and Tryphenah Yeboah. We look forward to hearing from readers, and we hope you share Tab Journal with friends.

If you missed the January print issue, you can see the Table of Contents in the Volume 8 (2020) Archives. There, we also share the thinking behind this year’s design, which strives to be inclusive as well as innovative. And if you’d like a copy of the print issue, you can use the Contact form on the website to request one. Unfortunately, because Chapman University is under a stay-at-home order, we are not able to mail it out right away.

TAB vs. Tab Journal

Going forward, we’ll refer to TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics by the informal name Tab Journal. In the past, we’ve used the word “TAB” in all caps to refer to our project, but we realized that e-readers read that as the distinct letters “T-A-B” as if it were an acronym. For greater accessibility, we’ve now adopted Tab Journal as our informal name. For citations and the ISSN, we retain the official name TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics.

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Reviews & Recs

TAB: Reading Recs

Though it’s often difficult now to sustain attention for reading during this global pandemic, here’s what I’ve found useful during this challenging time.

COVID-19 Serious Reading

Last week, The New York Review of Books published a moving account by Leslie Jamison about her experiences with COVID-19 a month after filing for divorce. I’ve taught Jamison’s work before and found this piece especially powerful. For something less personal and differently though provoking, I recommend Ed Yong’s piece “How Will the Coronavirus End?” at The Atlantic. Though I’m trying not to get overwhelmed by the news, I am finding some writing about COVID-19 that sticks with me.

COVID-19 Light Reading

I also want to share a few links to pieces that offer a little levity in the last couple of weeks:

Famous Opening Lines: On Fleek” at McSweeney’s

The first lines of classic novels, rewritten for social distancing” at LitHub

COVID-19 Viewing

And here are a couple of links to things to watch and listen to:

Tabula Poëtica on YouTube, where you can find video-recordings of our visiting poets; note that some are readings, whereas others are poetry talks on various subjects.

Stella’s Best Leaf Jumps of All Time” on YouTube, which has nothing to do with poetry but everything to do with joy

poetry books spread on the floor, with one medical ethics book
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Important Update

TAB: An April Update

In light of this past month’s horrific news of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the TAB staff extend our heartfelt wishes that writers and readers everywhere are taking care, staying at home, and washing hands. We also extend our condolences to the family of playwright Terrence McNally, who visited Chapman University just over a year ago.

Abstract aerial image

COVID-19 & the next issue

Here in California, our governor issued the stay-at-home order on March 19. Chapman University, where TAB is housed, had switched from in-person to online teaching a week earlier, and university staff who could work from home had already started that transition. You can read the university’s various statements and see the sorts of resources that have been developed by checking the COVID-19 section of the university’s website. We’re glad university leaders are doing what’s urgent and also making sure that our community is supported as much as possible as we adjust to this challenging situation.

This new way of working for TAB came when we were moving from the editorial stage to the production stage for the March issue, which is to be the first online issue at this website. This new platform and our increased efforts to make TAB as accessible as possible mean that the work has slowed. The March issue will appear soon.

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Events

TAB at AWP 2020

TAB staff & Chapman University MFA students at the AWP Bookfair Booth 2019
TAB & Chapman University’s MFA program at our AWP Bookfair Book in 2019

Free copies of TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics will again be available at our bookfair booth at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference on March 4-7, 2020. We’re at Booth #1543 in the middle of the bookfair hall.

As we head to San Antonio, we’re reading Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “San Antonio.”

We’re also looking at the Offsite Events so we can get out and see the city. Here are few that feature poets whose work has appeared in TAB.

  • On Wednesday at 7:00pm at Cos House, you can hear TAB poets Chloe Honum and Alison Benis White in the Tupelo Quarterly event.
  • On Thursday at 3:00-6:30pm in the Marriott’S Travis Room, TAB poet Allison Joseph is among the readers in Say My Name: Women Writers Readingpalooza.
  • Also on Thursday at 4:00-7:00pm at Candlelight Coffeehouse, catch TAB poet Denise Duhamel at the Nashville Review/Zone 3/Grist reading.
  • And on Thursday at 6:00-10:00pm at Smoke BBQ, TAB poet Hadara Bar-Nadav will read in Don’t Mess with Texts, featuring authors from Willow Springs and Florida Review.
  • In one more on Thursday at 7:00-10:00pm at Blue Star Brewing, TAB contributors Traci Brimhall and Oliver de la Paz will be part of the Baby-Sitters Club, a reading featuring 12 poets with new books sticky with parenthood.
  • On Friday at 7:00-9:00pm at Cos House, TAB poets Katie Farris and Jesse Lee Kercheval (they both published translation work in TAB) are part of Tupelo Press’s reading.