Califragile is a new online poetry journal seeking both unpublished and previously published poems (when rights allow). The About page reads, “In these times when the Earth and humanity seem so breakable, as if they might break each other, we search for answers in the air. What’s our next move? What did I just see on the news? What does this moment demand of me? Poets interpret their screens, sing to nature, and admonish us our selfishness. Califragile is a portrait of turning, questioning, stretching, stepping up.”
I wondered how and why this new poetry journal came to be, so I asked editor and founder Wren Tuatha and she kindly replied with one of my favorite interviews yet! See my interview with Tuatha along with a link to their submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about Califragile.
TUATHA: I envision Califragile as a literary journal for poetry about the meta-issues of climate change and social unrest. So it’s where nature poetry and political poetry intersect. I have plans to publish anthologies of some of our themes, such as #MeToo and #GunViolence.
HOPKINSON: How/why was Califragile originally started?
TUATHA: I navigate chronic health issues. About a year ago, I found that rather than pouring energy into my chosen activist issues, I was shrinking into a very small, isolated existence. I started to ponder my contribution to life on Earth. I need to delay teaching and activism for now, but what else?
I realized I could dig out my poems from the last 20 years, few published, and start submitting with the goal of publishing a book. I had great success. To date, I have published 58 of those poems. At the time I started, I hadn’t written a poem in 5 years. My illness effects how I think and process language. Now I’ve started writing again. Composing and editing are great mental therapy for me.
I tell this story because I founded Califragile for personal, political, and poetic reasons. Personally, this journal is widening my social network and I meet collaborators, like you!
On the other fronts, I feel like poets today are struggling to be relevant, with varying degrees of success. I’d like to curate a collection of poems addressing our metacrises that is accessible but unflinchingly solid in craft, and unafraid to sit in the fire and burn away our complacency and privilege.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
TUATHA: Let images do all the heavy lifting. Free yourself from the tyranny of sentences! Honestly, I think the best way to learn what an editor loves is to read their own poems. When you read mine, you may not think MFA. But to me, concrete images are the reason for the season. If you send me a rant I’ll think, “What an earnest first draft. Now the work can begin!”
I am impressed by skill that shows in spare, well herded language and profound, out of nowhere images that deepen the topic. As an editor, I’m less impressed by wit. I might smile at it but I don’t select it. In the end, it’s all about astonishing imagery laid out with strong enjambment and no word wasted. I’d love to publish poems that deepen our public conversation—that spotlight what’s in the corners, that challenge, pose questions, witness for change.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but never comes in?
TUATHA: Califragile is new. But at this moment, I’d have to say wombat poems. They’re cute and they make square poop. How have they not inspired volumes?
Also, I sometimes put out special calls for women poets, POC, LGBTQ. Especially since I believe erasing privilege and oppression are core changes needed now, I’d like to see work from all underrepresented voices. We currently are calling for #Immigration poetry and would love to hear from immigrant poets.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
TUATHA: Rattle, Canary, The Cafe Review, Loch Raven Review, Lavender Review, Thrush, Phoebe, Triggerfish, aaduna, Boulevard, Gertrude, Peacock Journal, Rosebud…I frequently submit my own work and, reading what editors have chosen previously, I fall in love often!
HOPKINSON: Where can poets send submissions?
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
TUATHA: It depends on the question. Anything submission/publication related can go to firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s also a Contact page on califragile.org. Please also like/follow Califragile on Facebook and Twitter.
If someone is seeking feedback on their poems, Califragile offers a critiquing service. Details are on our Submissions page. That’s the only place where I can give that kind of feedback. Goat herding questions, again, smoke signals.
I moderate The Seldom Herd: Wren Tuatha’s Poetry & Goat Bulletin Board, where poets can post publication announcements (not blogs) and calls for submission. This group is not a place to post poems.
I occasionally write about poetry on my blog, HippieChickDiaries.com.
DEADLINE: Always open
SUBMISSION FEE: None
NOTES: “We will try to respond within 3 weeks. But if you have not heard from us in 1 month, we have passed on your work.”