Quick Update on Issue 4

Being between MFA packets I have spent all day working on Issue #4 of the Barefoot Muse, which is coming together beautifully. My only gripe is that once again my male contributors outnumber my female contributors by two to one. Come on, ladies! I don’t for a second believe we are inferior at formal or metrical verse, although I do believe we are more modest with our submissions and have perhaps more competing demands on our time. If I can spend eight hours writing html you can copy a bunch of poems into an email and send it to me. You’ve got until November 20th. Get cracking!


  1. Anna M Evans

    It would be if I were planning to accept said poems regardless of merit, but I’m not. My usual high standards will apply.

    If I were sexist in my acceptance policy I wouldn’t be in the position where I had accepted twice as many men as women, would I now? The fact is I didn’t even tally up the numbers until yesterday when I was struck by the imbalance, and I was merely trying to encourage more women to submit.
    There have been a number of discussions about what does and what does not constitute sexism in the formal poetry world, on Eratosphere as well as other places. I don’t necessarily want to go over the same ground here. But one comment made was that women tend to be less aggressive with submissions than men–it’s certainly so in my experience as an editor. In particular I notice that many men will take a rejection as a cue to re-submit, whereas women will not.

  2. “I was merely trying to encourage more women to submit.”

    But what is there about a poem written by a female that should make it in any way more interesting or worthy or attractive than a poem written by a male?

  3. Anna M Evans

    These are murky waters indeed, my friend, but I am pulling on my wading boots…
    Again, there is nothing to recommend poems by women over poems by men. I do not consider gender when I review submissions. Again, this is proven by the fact that when I checked the stats I discovered I had accepted poems from twice as many men as women.
    However, as a woman writer/editor I was disappointed by those stats, and I am aware, because I have read the arguments on Eratosphere etc. that women writers feel under represented in formalist publications. I looked over my rejections, and I have rejected 31 men and 24 women who submitted poems for the most recent issue. (I also rejected 3 poets whose gender was not apparent from their name.) If you add in the acceptances, this means I received 43 submissions from men, including several repeat submissions, and only 30 from women. Many male submissions contain the allowed maximum of 6 poems. More female submissions contain only 3 or 4 poems. The subtext is that I want to make it clear to my readers that ONE reason women are under-represented in my journal is because fewer of them submit and they send me fewer poems, and not because I am prejudiced AGAINST women poets.
    Could it be you are over-reacting because I rejected YOUR poems? I assure you it was nothing to do with your gender.

  4. Anna M Evans

    I’d like to add this. The Barefoot Muse is open to submissions for the next issue until November 20th. It doesn’t matter if you’re male, female, uncertain, or a hermaphroditic alien with five eyes on little stalks, send me (editor_at_barefootmuse.com) some original formal/metrical poetry and I’ll look at it fairly and squarely. At this stage the zine probably won’t be taking any more sonnets about love or writing poetry, and I haven’t been taking sestinas because the last issue was the sestina issue, but apart from that, the field’s wide open. Have at it!

  5. Steven

    Anna, you’re the editor of your publication and you have the ability and the perogative to set whatever standards you wish to for submissions. My point is simply that you seem to be keeping score, as your comment attests, as to how many men v. women are submitting and becoming published. Do you keep score as to how many of the various ethnic groups are represented? How many young v. old are represented? I doubt it. The issue of male-female seems to be of interest to you, ostensibly because of some discussion on Eratosphere. Fine. It may also be that you, being a female editor, may be attracting more male submissions because of a perception that the usual male competition might ease with such an editor. In all cases, my hope in reading a publication is to discover the poem itself, not the poet. Poetry suffers IMHO from too much of an emphasis on cults of personality, on exclusionary criteria that have little if anything with putting the best poems “out there.” Do what you will, though. It’s your publication.

    As to your inference that my comments on this topic are somehow driven by a recent rejection from you, that is to infer a lack of professionalism on my part. I resent such an inference, reject it whole-heartedly, and bid you farewell. Methinks, in the end, that the lady doth protest too much.

  6. Anna M Evans

    Well, I deserved that to some extent. Still, if Steven has ‘bid us farewell,’ that gives me the opportunity to have the last word, which is this:

    I’m a woman. It bothers me that my own journal adds to the list of formal venues where women are underrepresented. I don’t lose sleep over it, and it doesn’t influence my editorial decisions (If it did, allow me to re-iterate, I wouldn’t have the imbalance.) But it bothers me. Steven can’t see why it should, because he is part of what is in this case the dominant group, and they do tend to get uptight when they see anything which smacks of positive discrimination (which this isn’t) toward the underdogs. I don’t tally the ethnicity of my contributors (and don’t see how I could) but I do sympathize with ethnic minorities, because I know they experience the same issues.

    I think it’s okay for me to be bothered about this, and to urge more women to submit. I understand, better than Steven, the reasons why women submit fewer poems than men.

    It wouldn’t be okay for me to accept sub-standard poems by women, and I don’t.

    Sheesh, being a journal editor is a thankless task.

  7. […] Beginning with the first question, I am fortunate in that I have at my disposal all the statistics for the submissions I received during the last reading period of the Barefoot Muse. I had deliberately not analysed these statistics until this point, partly because I did so at the end of the last reading period, and it got me into some trouble. Besides, the issue is already live, and I chose the poems with no reference to any perceived gender imbalance. […]

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