Small Town Poetry is a print anthology seeking poems “that engage the essentials of small town American life” is a new anthology created by poet and writer Tom Montag under his small publishing house MWPH Books.
I wondered how and why this anthology came to be, so I asked Montag a few questions to find out. See my interview with him and information on how to submit below.
For more info on how to submit to literary magazine and journals, read my Submission Tips here.
HOPKINSON: How/why was Small Town Poetry Anthology originally started?
MONTAG: My friend and fellow poet David Graham and I were exchanging e-mails and it occurred to me that he had grown up in a small town in New York, while I was raised on a farm in Iowa and have lived in a small town in Wisconsin since 1976. So I asked David — who is very widely read, and who co-edited the anthology After Confession: Poetry as Autobiography – whether he knew of any anthologies of poetry about small towns. Off-hand he didn’t, and doing further research we couldn’t find anything of the sort. Well, I run a small publishing house, MWPH Books, and it seemed like a no-brainer that we could edit such an anthology together, and MWPH would publish it. We spent some time talking about what such a project might look like, via e-mail and over a couple of breakfasts, and finally this spring decided we were ready to get started. We announced the project on April 1st. Deadline is December 1, 2017. We expect publication in 2018.We don’t have a title for the anthology as yet; I expect that will come as our work continues and the anthology progresses.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about the Small Town Poetry Anthology.
MONTAG: We have created a Facebook page with a pinned post which describes our project at: https://www.facebook.com/smalltownpoetry . Essentially, we’d like this take on small towns to be broad as possible, as diverse geographically and in all other ways as it can be. Some of us live in the big house on the hill; some live on the other side of the tracks. Some of us are white, some are black, or Hispanic, or Asian, or Indian. The small town has its rituals and its culture; that will be recorded in the poetry. There is the sunny-side of the street, and there is the dark side too. We know that. We’d like to have a true picture. I live in a small town. I know it is not Lake Woebegon. “Small town” is an elastic category, obviously, but if your town, village, or city has a post office and grocery store but lacks a bus line or branch libraries, chances are it qualifies. We are looking for poems that bear their truth faithfully.
Just to be clear, we are interested in poetry about small towns, not small cities, and not the farm experience. The difference, sometimes, might be a matter of judgment.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
MONTAG: Always, some aspect of the small town should be at the heart of the poem.
We expect there will be narrative poems, lyric poems, perhaps some persona poems. There will probably be a 4th of July parade or a country fair somewhere among the poems. Someone should probably fall out of a tree.
We want to see poems which tell the truth about life in the small town, about never having to lock your doors, on the one hand; and everyone knowing your business on the other. We’d like this anthology to represent this life as we have lived it.
I’ve been involved with editing and publishing long enough to know that whatever we say about what we want, someone will come along and surprise us. That’s what we’re hoping for, to be surprised again and again. Surprise us about something people might think they know inside and out.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
MONTAG: I am a contributing editor at Verse-Virtual, so there’s that. Peacock Journal is always lovely. Fourth and Sycamore, out of the public library in Greenville, Ohio, never disappoints. I am honored to publish somewhat regularly in John Marton’s Otata, which features the short poem, and I would like to be published in Noon, another magazine which publishes short poems. I have been a featured poet at Atticus Review, Contemporary American Voices, Houseboat, and Basil O’Flaherty Review, so I have to mention them, and I have received Pushcart Prize nominations from Provo Canyon Review, Blue Heron Review, and The Lake, though I believe Provo Canyon has ceased publication.
HOPKINSON: Where can folks send submissions?
MONTAG: We ask that poets submit 3-5 poems in the body of an email (no attachments) to firstname.lastname@example.org; the subject line should read “Small Town Anthology – Poet’s Name – # of Poems.” Submissions may be previously published if the poet has the right to re-publish them at no cost to us. A hundred word biographical note should be included in the e-mail.
Our deadline for submissions is December 1, 2017, with expected publication in 2018 from MWPH Books. Payment is two contributor copies and a 60% discount on additional copies. The editors are David Graham & Tom Montag.
If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
MONTAG: Feel free to query me at my e-mail address: email@example.com. Please indicate in the subject line that the e-mail concerns the “Small Town Anthology.” I get a couple hundred e-mails every day, and I want to be able to identify and respond quickly to questions about this project.
- Send 3-5 poems in the body of an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. (No attachments please).
- The subject line of the email should be formatted as follows: “Small Town Anthology – Poet’s Name – # of Poems.”
- Include a bio of 100 words or less than in body of the same email.
- Previously published poems are okay if the poet has the right to re-publish them at no cost to us.
DEADLINE: December 1, 2017
SUBMISSION FEE: None
PAYMENT: Payment is two contributor copies and a 60% discount on additional copies.