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

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 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.

Exciting News Submission Info

Tab Submissions Open

Tab Journal submissions are now open!

Image of black and white collage with reflective silver textures with writing "space before text"

Read the Submission Guidelines before submitting your work to Tab Journal. We consider all things poetry, including poems, scholarly and creative essays about poetry, poetry pedagogy pieces, and interviews with poets. Because Tab Journal is continually evolving through design thinking, we’re doing a few things differently this year, not only on the surface but in our policies and practices.

We welcome submissions from writers with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, voices, and aesthetics and encourage BIPOC, LGBTQ, and Disabled poets to send us work. As part of that, we’ve updated our submission form to include optional self-identifying to help us work toward an increasingly inclusive submissions pool. Of course, our staff readers don’t see identifying information when they evaluate submissions.

This year, we are especially encouraging of submissions of visual poetry. You can see examples we’ve published by Keith S. Wilson and Monica Ong in Volume 9 (2021). Plus, there are more in the January 2022 print issue and also a conversation with several visual poets coming in the March online issue.

Tab Journal uses Submittable. We do not charge a submission fee. If you’re unable to use Submittable, please use the Contact form to ask for the best way to submit your work. If you can’t use Submittable or receive email, you can write to us using the postal address in the footer of most of our webpages; if you do that, make sure you that don’t put your name on the poems themselves and that you include a return envelope.

We are now reading for the July, September, and November issues. As part of our ongoing efforts in diversity and inclusion and with the help of a grant from the Poetry Foundation, new Contributing Editors Ruben Quesada and Lynne Thompson will help Editor Anna Leahy make final decisions on the content of these three issues.

For as long as we can afford it, every contributor to Tab Journal receives at no cost a copy of all future print issues, which are published each January. We are also working toward offering small honoraria to contributors.

We remain grateful that so many wonderful poets have trusted Tab Journal with their work these past nine years. We’re excited to see the work that poets send our way this year!

Black and white image with the Tab Journal Logo and collage of reflective minerals and textures
Events Poem Prompt

Poem Prompt: National Backwards Day

Who cares where National Backwards Day came from? It’s a great excuse to shake up our (poetry) habits and celebrate the end of January.

Here are a few suggestions for celebrating National Backwards Day:

  • dinner for breakfast & breakfast for dinner
  • say goodbye when you arrive & hello when you leave
  • wear your socks inside out or your shirt backwards
  • (for the disgruntled) turn your back in your online meeting (lower risk by turning camera off)

Of course, those of us at Tab Journal think the best way for poets to celebrate National Backwards Day is to write–or rather, revise–a poem backwards. Here are three ways to rework a draft from end to beginning:

  1. Cut and paste (or rewrite by hand) the last line first, the penultimate line second, the third-to-last line next, and so on through the whole poem. Don’t worry about syntax, punctuation, or meaning until all the lines are in the new order. Once you have a backwards version, treat that as the draft to revise. Think especially about how the reader enters the poem and the different effect this new ending has.
  2. Keep the lines in order, but reorder the words within some or all of the lines. The reordering may create a confusing jumble, and that’s okay. Go with it. You may notice different challenges depending on whether a line is end stopped or enjambed. Let’s take an example from Robert Frost, who sometimes inverts expected syntax. This sort of reordering may require some not-quite-backwards moves or changes in parts of speech if you want the language to make sense, but keep your idea of sense capacious.

    My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree 
    Toward heaven still, 
    And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill 
    Beside it, and there may be two or three 
    Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough. 

    Might become:

    A tree through sticks laddered long my two-pointed
    Heaven still toward
    Filling. Didn’t I barrel that there and
    Three or two may be there and it beside
    Some bough upon which I didn’t pick apples.

  3. Another way of defining backwards is as opposite. Often, we write the opposite of something word by word, the whole ends up meaning almost the same as the original because of the layers of negation. Often, a word doesn’t have an authentic opposite. But that’s no reason not to try this kind of revision.

    Your short unpointed tunnel’s burying out of that root 
    Away from hell no more, 
    But here’s this uncontainer that you emptied 
    On top of it, but here may not be any 
    Oranges you put under that root. 

    Okay, not great, but what might we do with words like unpointed, uncontainer, and under, words we might not have come up with–or come up with together–without this exercise in backwardness?

Cheers to backwards! Celebrate poetry whenever you can!

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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New Issue

Read the Current Issue

Vol. 9 (2021)
Vol. 9 (2021)

You’ll always find the latest issue of Tab Journal on the Current Issue page of the website. Right now, that means our November issue featuring the following fantastic work:

Adrian Odessa Federspiel
Pratibha Kelapure
Shosh Lovett-Graff
Monica Ong
Jessie Raymundo
Sarah Snyder
BOOK REVIEW: A Net to Catch my Body in its Weavingby 
Katie Farris
Tryphena Yeboah
BOOK REVIEW: Focal Point by Jenny Qi
Ian Koh

We hope you’ll share this issue with others and also follow us on Twitter @TabJournal.

When the next issue is published (every two months), old issues move to our Archives. All issues (2013-present), except the current one, are available there.

Exciting News More about TAB

New Communications Coordinator at Tab

Earlier this year, Tab Journal added several new staff, including Lydia Pejovic. We’re happy to announce that Lydia is our new Communications Coordinator.

Lydia coordinates social media, Tab Musings, and other interaction and content. We’re in the process of developing a new overarching communications plan for 2022. As part of this effort, Tab Journal has been cultivating its Twitter feed. Follow us @TabJournal.

Lydia is a Dual MA/MFA student at Chapman University. She’s using an independent study to work on in-depth research and communications planning for Tab Journal. She earned her BA in English from the University of San Diego. Her work has been published in Calliope Art & Literary Magazine, Pomona Valley Review, and Voices Magazine and is forthcoming in others. Like all Tab staff, she’s a terrific book reviewer too. You can find out more at

Exciting News

Nomination Season at Tab

It’s nomination season for literary journals, and we’re excited to be part of this literary celebration. Tab Journal is thrilled to nominate the following poems from this past year’s issues:

Pushcart Prize Nominations

“Migration Seasons” by Dia Roth | Volume 9, Issue #1

“Anonymous Years” by Suphil Lee Park | Volume 9, Issue #1

“Chaoite” by Melissa Eleftherion | Volume 9, Issue #2

 “Pandemic Q&A” by Susan Michele Coronel | Volume 9, Issue #4

“Test Match” by Satya Dash | Volume 9, Issue #4

“Guarding Thresholds” by Pratibha Kelapure | Volume 9, Issue #6

Best of the Net Nominations

“Dispatch” by Sarah Boyle | Volume 8, Issue #4

“Erasure #2 from Smart Chefs Stay Slim” by Lydia Weinberger | Volume 8, Issue #4

 “It Could: One End” by Lisa Alvarez | Volume 8, Issue #5

 “Signals” by Dia Roth | Volume 8, Issue #6

 “salt of body over body” by Melissa Eleftherion | Volume 9, Issue #2

“Encanto” by D.S. Waldman | Volume 9, Issue #2

These were tough decisions because we value every poem that we publish. Congratulations to these poets and good luck!

Exciting News

Welcome New Tab Staff

Tab Journal welcomes the following new staff: Ian Koh, Vesper North, and Lydia Pejovic. All are current students in the MFA in Creative Writing program at Chapman University. They join alums Liz Harmer, Daniel Miess, Sam Risak, Laila Shikaki, and Tryphena Yeboah as submissions readers and book reviews for Tab Journal. Bios for all of us are on the website’s Staff page.

Ian Koh (he/him) moved to California for studies from Singapore several years ago. He is an Dual MFA/MA student at Chapman University. His work can be found in Forth MagazineInkslinger, and others.

Vesper North (no pronouns) is a writer and artist based in Orange County, CA. North teaches English and communications and is a contributor at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Lydia Pejovic (she/her) is a writer and Dual MA/MFA student at Chapman University. She earned her BA in English from the University of San Diego. Her work has been published in Calliope Art & Literary Magazine and Voices Magazine and is forthcoming in others. See more at

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.

Exciting News New Issue

New Print Issue!

Yay! The new print issue of Tab Journal is ready for readers. This issue launches Volume 9 with a large-format design on newsprint and features the work of ten poets, most of whom are making their first appearance in Tab Journal. Before you dive into the poems, we wanted to share this issue’s backstory.

Feature Image Collage

This print issue has been created entirely during a time of quarantine as the world underwent the isolation and anxieties of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, we reflected in this issue on concepts of time—as a sense of place, as space, as structure, as the visual experience of light and dark. Time has an impact on psychology; we can lose time or lose track of time. Time has a history of visual representation and documentation as well. This year’s print issue explores visual expressions of time warping, time-traveling, and the chronology and the kaleidoscope of time-keeping. Here, the images and texts engage in ideas of process over time, such as healing or growth.

Also as a result of the pandemic, the Tab staff has very limited access to the office and mail room, and our work continues to be done remotely. We are in the process of getting copies to contributors, not only this issue’s contributors but, as always, to all whose work has appeared in Tab Journal over the entirety of its publication history. We also welcome requests for copies, especially by teachers and librarians to use in discussions and by readers with low hearing; please use the Contact form to make a request. We’re excited to distribute this amazing issue as widely as possible and as soon as possible, given the current constraints.

We hope you’ll look at the Current Issue online and share it with others. Usually, we don’t include the entirety of the print issue online and instead upload only the Table of Contents and elements that convey the new design. Because of pandemic-related delays in mailing, we have uploaded the PDF version of the whole issue as well as audio recordings of all the poems for increased accessibility. Because print offers a very different reading experience than online, we don’t want to replicate the print issue online. The issue uses large-format newsprint, a material mode that further suggests ways we consider time, news, and cultural documents in a so-called post-truth or post-factual age that has seen newspaper staff and circulation decline dramatically. Our website and your screen, therefore, can’t convey how Keith S. Wilson’s poem gallops across the page, and you can’t cut out and fold Amelia L. Williams’s cootie catcher poem to experiment with its possible iterations. Poetry’s ink won’t rub off on your fingers here.

If you’d like to receive a monthly recap of Tab Musings, please sign up for our newsletter. We have lots of plans for 2021! We also encourage you to follow Tab Journal on Twitter and Facebook.