Ponderings

Bamboo

Bamboo has an eerie sound
late at night when the wind
knocks stalks together

I still remember the way I latched on
to the rustle and echo, grasping
something outside those moments when
his body pressed mine –
even the pillow he shoved over my face could not stifle
the steady drumbeat of hollow shoots
colliding together outside his window

Decades later I remember the way I woke
the morning after, grabbed
my Swiss Army knife,
carved a flute

- Sarah Hayes

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On what we do; our response times, our process…

From the Editor in Chief

Over the years the number of manuscripts that we receive during open reading periods has grown significantly, even as we’ve shortened those reading periods.  We feel this is a direct response to the unique, high-quality chapbooks we produce and to our focus on our authors and artists.  We know that the authors we’ve published recommend us to their friends and colleagues.  We are grateful for that.  This past April we also made our first appearance at the annual AWP Conference, which we know exposed us to even more writers.  We are happy that so many people have discovered Red Bird Chapbooks and we are thrilled to have so many wonderful manuscripts to select from.  That said, we also know that our response times have increased as a result and, as writers ourselves, we know this matters to you.  For this reason we are happy to consider simultaneous submissions and ask, if your work is accepted elsewhere, that you notify us as soon as possible. 

While we have, in the past, used other reading models which resulted in quicker response times for our authors, the reality was that those shorter response times also meant less editors were reading each manuscript.  We prefer instead to make sure each possibility is read with care, even if that care is at the expense of haste.    

We have made a conscious decision to have the editors for each genre read all the manuscripts we receive in that genre because we want every possibility to be considered fully.  We know that on some level the decision to publish a poem, a story, a collection has a subjective component.  Yes, we want the caliber of the writing to be a major deciding factor – and it is – but we also want to publish manuscripts that speak to us, that move or incite us, that give us pause… Manuscripts that we feel or believe need to be in the world because of how they will speak to others.  We’re all human beings and our life experiences and our personal preferences do shape what resonates for us. 

We have recruited a diverse group of editors, all of whom bring a wide range of experiences, writing styles, preferences and aesthetics to the work they do with us.  Our editors have been (among other pursuits) academics, journalists, accountants, grocers, aircraft mechanics, government employees, social workers, counselors.  Some have MFA degrees, others do not.  All are writers.  All are volunteers.  Many have families and hobbies and part time or full time jobs in addition to their writing and the time they devote to reading and editing for Red Bird Chapbooks. They do this difficult and time consuming and rewarding work because they believe in what we do and want to bring more voices in to the world. 

We hope, as writers, that you understand the reasons behind our decision and appreciate the attention your manuscript receives as a result.

We appreciate your patience as we consider your possibilities.