Poets market: Eastern Structures

One of the most significant moments of my writing life happened in 1989. After having written poetry intensely for about a year, I finally dared submit my poems to a couple of markets— I had purchased Writer’s Digest’s ‘Poets Market’— and one of them, Struggle: A Magazine of Proletarian Revolutionary Literature, accepted some poems. (I was in my Youthful Marxist Phase at the time.)

I wrote a lot more poems that had ranty Marxist topics and I got published a few more times in Struggle. And I think that I learned a lesson about getting poetry published— try to find a poetry ‘zine you are in synch with and submit regularly.

Currently I discovered a new poetic market in a Facebook group about sijo poetry. It’s called Eastern Structures, and publishes 3 poetic forms: ghazals, sijo and haiku. The editor of Eastern Structures, R. W. Watkins, was seeking out some submissions of sijo for his next edition. The web page of Eastern Structures is: https://sites.google.com/site/nocturnalirispublications/eastern-structures

The ghazal form is explained on the website. ES publishes only 5-7-5 syllable haiku (& senryu)— they are quite firm about that. But they don’t insist on a season word in the haiku, or the strict division between haiku and senryu in the subject matter.

In the Sijo Poetry Facebook group, (https://www.facebook.com/groups/21083466365/), I asked the editor if he had any preferences for sijo in the matter of the number of lines. All the sijo in Eastern Structures #2 were written in 3 long lines, instead of breaking each long line into 2 half lines, leaving what looked like a six line poem.

R. W. Watkins replied: ” I prefer the original three-line version. The six-line version has a tendency to become a six-line thing in itself. I wrote an article on this subject almost two decades ago. Certain people hated me for it; it was an ‘inconvenient truth’.”

So— if you are a sijo poet, I would suggest you submit your sijo to Eastern Structures as poems of 3 long lines. If you have written sijo of 6 lines where the two line-pairs don’t work well as one line, the editor will probably reject it.

If you are new to submitting your poems to a market, here are some tips useful for submitting anywhere:

  • buy a sample copy or two of the ‘zine and read what has been accepted.
  • review descriptions of ghazals, sijo or haiku and see if your poems qualify as these forms.
  • write many, many ghazals, sijo or haiku before submitting, so you can pick the best of many.
  • after completing the first draft, let each poem ‘age’ a month or two before working on the final version.
  • if you think a market is a good fit for your work, don’t take rejection badly. Many poetic markets get hundreds more submissions than they can use. Submit your best new work at a future date.

Have you ever submitted your poems or prose to a publisher? How did it work out for you? Are you still submitting?

Other Post of Interest:

Celebrate: Poem Published! https://myantimatterlife.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/celebrate-poem-published/

Poem Stories: The Cosmos by Han Yongun; Celebrate

Celebrate blog hopThe Cosmos

The cosmos is swaying
in the autumn wind.
Are your petals wings
or wings your petals?
Your soul is a butterfly —
as far as I can see.

The Korean poet Han Yongun (1879-1944) was a Buddhist monk, and also one of the 33 who signed a historic document in 1919 declaring the independence of Korean from Japanese rule.

This poem is a sijo. A sijo is a traditional Korean type of poem, just as haiku and tanka are traditional Japanese types of poems.

How do you understand this poem or other poems? Forget all the English class nonsense where there were ‘right’ answers about the hidden stuff that was in a poem that only an English teacher could work out. A poem is more like an ink-blot test, and there are no right and wrong answers when it comes to what you see in a poem and what you think it means.

Here are some things the poem awoke in me:
I wondered about the word ‘cosmos.’ I looked it up in the dictionary. It can mean an orderly universe. Or it can mean a variety of flower. Is the ‘cosmos’ in this poem the universe, the flower or both? (It makes me wonder what the original word was in the Korean and if it had these two meanings.)

I wonder who the Speaker of the poem is talking to that either has wings or petals. Or both. Are the wings/petals literally. And the soul is a butterfly thing— ‘as far as I can see….’ Interesting.

So, now, your turn. What does the poem mean to you? If you had one question for the poet Han Yongun about the poem, what would it be? Post it in a comment!

This is  a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop.

What am I celebrating? Well, it’s kind of hard these days. I’ve been sick and it’s been very hot and uncomfortable by me. And then I heard the word about the terrorist attack in France killing 77 (Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord.)

But I wrote a good poem last night after I studied the sijo poem above, so that’s something to celebrate. Can’t come out with a new poetry book if I don’t generate enough new material.

And on Lexa Cain’s blog, my friend Robert Mullin’s novella Blood Song was featured on a list of ‘freebies.’ I liked the book so much that I hope some more people will download and read the book.

My email list:

I’ve temporarily taken down the pop-up for my email list. I was hoping to put up a less annoying one but the one I wanted was not compatible with WordPress.com, just WordPress.org. If you want to join my email list without a popup to prompt you, the form is at: http://eepurl.com/FN2hr

Writing a yangjang sijo poem

modkoreanThe yangjang sijo is a modern variant of the standard sijo (pyong sijo), which is a very traditional Korean poetic form. The yangjang sijo was invented by poet Yi Unsang (also spelled Lee Eunsang.)

The standard sijo is written in three lines in Korean. Because the Korean alphabet is quite compact, the poems have awkwardly long lines in English. So the tradition is to divide the three Korean lines in half, making it look like a 6 line poem. For syllable counting purposes, each Korean line is divided into 4 quarter-lines.

Yi Unsang created the yangjang sijo by removing the middle of the three lines of the pyong/standard sijo. This makes the poem more compact and intense.

The first line of a yangjang sijo states and develops the theme. An anti-theme or a twist is given in the second, concluding line. If the first line raises a question, the second line will answer it. Or the second line will be a comment, perhaps a witty one, on the theme raised in the first.

Sijo lines have recommended syllable counts for the quarter-lines of each of the three lines. Yangjang sijo can use these as well. Here is one scheme, taken from Jaihiun Kim’s Modern Korean Verse in Sijo Form:

First line: 3 – 4 – 3 – 4
Second line: 3 – 6  – 4 – 3

A more flexible scheme as recommended by Yi Unsang, creator of yangsang sijo.

First line: 2-5 + 3-6 + 2-5  + 4-6
Second line: 3 + 5-9 + 4-5 + 3-4

So in total the yangjang sijo will have around 27 syllables while the standard sijo has around 44. But as you can see by the syllable counts above, it can vary a bit.

A yangjang sijo by Yi Unsang, taken from Modern Korean Verse in Sijo Form:

I’d Rather Go Blind

I try in vain to see my beloved
she appears only in dreams

If I can see her only with my eyes closed
I’d rather go blind.

Some things to note about Yi Unsang’s poem: First, like most modern sijos, it has a poem title. Also, the English translation is in four lines. Really, though, they are four half lines.

Here are the syllable counts for the quarter-lines of this poem:

4 – 6 – 3 – 4
5 – 6 – 3 – 2

This yangjang sijo is the only one I have been able to find so far. To get more models for study, find classic pyong/standard sijos and remove the middle line to see if they still make a little sense. Like this:

Deep in the mountains we have no calendar
To tell us when the seasons change

When children hunt for warm clothes,
We know it must be winter!

This is from a sijo in ‘Sunset in a Spider Web: Sijo Poetry of Ancient Korean’ by Virginia Olsen Baron. Here is another sijo adapted to yangjang sijo form:

My house is so deep in the woods
That the cuckoo sings in the daytime.

Even the dog, who has forgotten how to bark,
Naps while flowers fall.

The sijo form in general does not restrict the poet as to the subject. It can be about love, nature, politics, industrial espionage, your appliances plotting against you…. anything. You don’t have to make Korean culture and history a part of it. Use your culture, the history of your land, your life.