Category Archives: poetry

Litmags of Columbus, Ohio

My Delicious list of publications that include creative writing currently is undergoing its quinquennial cleanup, which takes several months. The number of resilient little magazines surprises me. Looking through thousands of listings at once, I can see that the failed ones have tended to be sites with names that were impossible to remember or spell, journals that had no social media presence, zines founded to celebrate embitterment, and startups whose editors ran out of time. Those are only the obvious among many reasons for a literary journal to fold, but if you’re thinking of founding a magazine they’re reasons worth noting.

It shouldn’t matter where a literary journal originates. After more than a quarter-century of being connected online, we’re slowly relinquishing the idea of a city serving as a crucial element of branding. Now, personalities and backstories matter more. The shift feels like progress.

Nevertheless, I’ve put together a list of publications from my hometown, Columbus, Ohio, which isn’t known for its literary culture, James Thurber notwithstanding. These vigorously optimistic little magazines are endeavoring to grow where they’re planted. Let me know if I missed your favorite.

Litmags of Columbus




Barking Sycamores gives preference to submissions from writers with neurodivergence, including autism, AD(H)D, bipolar, synesthesia, and other neurominority or related states of being

Betty Fedora


Common Threads

Flip the Page: Central Ohio’s Teen Literary Journal


The Journal

Naked Sunfish

Pudding Magazine


Silenced Press

Spoonful — A Happiness Companion

Spring Street & Shameless Pen

Still Crazy

The Sundial Humor Magazine accepts submissions from anyone enrolled at The Ohio State University

Turn to Ash

Also of interest to Columbusites

The Honey Jar: A Receptacle for Literary Preserves, Volume 1 (1899)

Ohioana Quarterly

Thurber House – 77 Jefferson Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43215

An open letter to Charlotte H. F______ of Detroit

Dear Ms. F_____:

Your voicemail message for me arrived in the midst of a hurricane evacuation and storm forecast that has escalated to a hurricane warning for my coastal city and county, which is why I’m unable to return your call or answer the phone when you call again to discuss what seems to be your self-published poetry workbook or textbook. You did not provide your email address, and you don’t seem to have a discoverable online presence that would allow me to contact you via email, so I’ve resorted to a blogpost. Maybe this information also will be helpful to other writers in your situation.

Please understand that for nonfiction books, an established author platform is a nonnegotiable prerequisite for becoming one of my clients.

Please note the query guidelines on my website, which specify not to phone my agency but, instead, to send email containing all of the listed information that I would need in order to determine whether I might be able to work with you.

As it turns out, the information you’ve requested most likely can be found in one of my earlier posts, which I’ll list for you below. A great deal more information that might be helpful to you can be found on this blog. Enter the relevant keywords in the blog’s search box.

Literary agents for textbook authors

The demands of commercial authorhood today

How will readers ever find your book?

To writers who ask if I can interest traditional publishers in their self-published books

The posts linked above as well as the other information on this blog should send you in the right direction. If you feel you need to discuss your writing with someone, may I suggest you attend a reputable writers’ conference or a workshop on getting published that is led by a writer or literary agent you admire?

One of the best sources for information about getting your book published is Jane Friedman’s amazing blog.

Thank you for thinking of me. I wish you the best of luck with your previously published book or new manuscript and your search for the perfect agent to represent you.

Sincerely yours,

Robin Mizell

To all others who happen to read this post and wish to express well wishes or ask questions, please don’t be offended by my inability to respond to your comments this weekend. If all goes swimmingly, I’ll check the blog on Monday, October 10, 2016. Peace out.

Give it time

Slow down is not advice any writer wants to hear, because the goal of being published is so alluring. Give it time. Learn how to do it well. Wait until the cake is done before you take it out of the oven. The results will be so much more satisfying.

Nine years ago today I started this blog, coincidentally the same year I met David Sanders at the Kenyon Review Literary Festival. This year, his collection of poetry Compass & Clock was published by Swallow Press, just in time for the celebration of National Poetry Month. If you listen carefully, you can hear my old neighbor and dear friend describe the necessity of patience as he explains his writing process to WOUB Digital’s podcast host Tom Hodson: “It’s a book that I’ve been working on for thirty years or so, and these are the poems that have risen to the top.”

Congratulations, David! Salut.

Detroit lit: online, print, and audio

Detroit’s literary community has been enjoying national attention recently. These publications, which feature creative writing, are based in the city and its suburbs. I included the suburban cities, because it seemed there ought to be more literary magazines in the Motor City. What did I miss? In a year or two, will this list be twice as long?

3rd Wednesday

Bête Noire (in Utica)

Cruel Garters (in Bloomfield Hills)

Fifth Estate (in Ferndale)

Fogged Clarity

The Ibis Head Review

The MacGuffin (in Livonia)

Marvels & Tales, Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies

The Periphery

Radio Campfire (creative audio)

Sammiches and Psych Meds

[SIC] Student Arts Journal

The Strand Magazine (in Birmingham)

Stupor (in Hamtramck)

undr_scr review

Wayne Literary Review

White Cat Publications’ various magazines (in Livonia)

A few more insights

Amy Sacka Photography

Literary Detroit

The Literary Map of Detroit sponsored by the Marygrove College Institute for Detroit Studies and the Department of English and Modern Languages

Detroit Public Library

Detail of the entrance to the Detroit Public Library

Bought at my fave independent bookshop: Poems: New and Collected, 1957—1997, by Wisława Szymborska

Day 28: My go-to bookshop for three decades was the Book Loft of German Village at 631 South Third Street in Columbus, Ohio. I’m sure it’s still filled to the high ceilings with remainders and new books. In the old shop, a room (32 of them) or sometimes a hallway or closet was devoted to every literary category. Browsing through the entire store was a little like being digested; it might take twelve hours. The bookseller transacted sales behind a tiny counter under the stairs, in a space the size of a tollbooth. I could find a beautiful monthly or weekly planner among the Book Loft’s selection, instead of scavenging all over town the way I do now.

Poems New and Collected 1958—1997 by Wisława SzymborskaWisława Szymborska‘s Poems: New and Collected, 1957-1997, translated by Stanisław Baránczak and Clare Cavanagh, likely was purchased from the Book Loft. The pretty first edition, published by Harcourt Brace, has a caramel-colored ribbon marker that matches the dust jacket and the binding. Do many new books, other than Bibles, have bound page markers today?

When it was published in the U.S., Frances Padorr Brent covered the book in the Boston Review:

In Szymborska’s work there is hesitancy and modesty—perhaps a matter of personality—an emphasis on the difficulty of telling the truth, to get it right, to thread one’s way through a maze of official half-truths. In post-war Poland, which had lost more than 6,000,000 people to the Germans, it was not permissible to speak directly about the 2,000,000 Jews who died at Auschwitz or the indifference of certain segments of Polish society. The encounter with communism, which the Polish critic Jan Kott calls the “serpent’s sting,” insinuated itself into Polish art, leaving behind a hole of silence, representing what was sometimes compromised, sometimes excised.

Readers of all ages find Szymborska’s poetry approachable. You can see one of the poems reproduced in the form of a printable notice to pin on a bulletin board.

BookADay-The Borough Press

Out of print: Christmas Trees by Robert Frost

CHRISTMAS TREES by Robert FrostDay 22: Christmas Trees, Robert Frost’s letter-poem illustrated by Ted Rand and published in 2002 1990 by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers has been out of print for years, which is sad. It’s a beautiful book. You can buy a used copy for less than a dollar.

Certain children’s book publishers specialize in reissuing out-of-print titles. Among them:

Book Lust Rediscoveries, Nancy Pearl’s Amazon imprint

Lizzie Skurnick Books

Purple House Press

BookADay-The Borough Press

Have more than one copy: A Writer’s Reference

A Writer's ReferenceDay 8: A Writer’s Reference is the abridged edition of Diana Hacker’s The Bedford Handbook. Roughly the size of an old-fashioned address book with a plastic comb binding, its best feature is the convenient, easy-to-use design. Nancy Sommers is the lead co-author of the newer editions.

My copies—one for home and one for the office—are antiques, and I’ve given and frequently recommended the compact handbook. Everyone seems to appreciate A Writer’s Reference‘s many examples, some illustrated with correction marks. Lately, there are ebook editions, as well as a website, Writer’s Help, which expands on the content in A Writer’s Reference and is touted for its search and social features.

You might question whether A Writer’s Reference is worth the steep price, now that few people fret about grammar, punctuation, or word choice. I suppose an answer can be found in Taylor Mali‘s poem “The The Impotence of Proofreading.” You’ve seen the video of his reading, but here it is again, from the Bowery Poetry Club in 2005.

The Diana Hacker TYCA Outstanding Programs in English Awards, which is sponsored by the Two-Year College English Association (TYCA) of the National Council of Teachers of English and the books’ publisher, Bedford/St. Martin’s, is accepting program nominations online until November 10, 2014.

BookADay-The Borough Press

I love poetry, but…

…I don’t represent poets.

Few U.S. literary agents represent poetry. I won’t add insult to injury by explaining why.

Every year, I receive queries from poets, so it can’t hurt to post the form letter I send in reply, just in case a writer somewhere is conducting online research in the hope of having a book-length collection of poetry published by a respected literary press in the U.S.

The market for books of poetry is entirely different in languages other than English and in other parts of the world, but I’m monolingual, and the poets who contact me usually write in English.

To poets who ask if I’ll consider being their agent (a form letter)

If you’re reading this form reply from Robin Mizell Ltd., chances are you haven’t seen the agency’s website,, which provides up-to-date query guidelines. I don’t represent poets. A small number of agents work with the most celebrated poets, but most poets work directly with the publishers of their work.

In many cases, in order to have a book of poetry accepted by a traditional publisher, first you must have your poems published in highly respected literary journals and poetry anthologies. I can’t stress enough the importance of submitting your work only to the best small magazines and presses. The Poets & Writers website lists literary journals and contest deadlines. I think you’ll find its online resources helpful.

If you truly wish to pursue the idea of having a literary agent, then you should look for submission or query guidelines on literary agencies’ websites before contacting them. If poetry is not listed as a category of manuscripts an agent is seeking, then that agent is not looking for new poets to represent.

Learn which literary agencies might be seeking new poets as clients by reviewing the agency listings on free networking sites like these:


Agent Query

Association of Authors’ Representatives

Your local library also will have guidebooks such as Poet’s Market. There’s no need to purchase the book. You can borrow it from the library nearest you. Find the closest library by searching

Good luck with your endeavors.



If you’re reading this blogpost and can suggest improvements or additions to this form letter, please let me know, either via email or in the comments section. Is there a reliable online resource for writers who want to learn how to find reputable publishers for their poetry?