Today’s Meet the Experts interview was done by KJ Wells and features Philadelphia Poets creator and editor Rosemary Cappello. For those interested in coming to Push to Publish with poetry, Rosemary Cappello is just one one the many poets who will be on hand on October 13 for Push to Publish (http://www.philadelphiastories.org/push-publish-2012-strategies-and-techniques-get-your-work-print-and-online)
Below is the interview:
Wells: Who are some of the poets you think everyone interested in poetry should read?
Cappello: Poets who are important to me run the gamut from the Italian Renaissance poets, which include Petrarch, Michelangelo, and others of that era, to 19th Century poet Robert Browning and 20th Century’s William Carlos Williams, W.D. Auden, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, and contemporaries such as Diane DiPrima. Also, the Japanese haiku masters. However, each poet has to find his or her own favorites while developing an individual style and not be overly influenced by any one writer.
Wells: What inspired you to begin Philadelphia Poets?
Cappello: The year was 1980 and that being the pre-Internet era there was a need for a way of spreading poetry news. One night after a reading, several poets and I were bemoaning the fact that poetry news just didn’t get good coverage, and the others nominated me as the person who should put out a newsletter. Thus, Philadelphia Poets was born. It started out as a three-page newsletter that included some poetry, since there was a great need, as well, for another outlet for publishing poetry. Also, a need existed for an editor who would not place restrictions on the form or length of a poem and who had firsthand knowledge of the complaints poets had concerning editorial response, and would try to be more understanding of their needs.
Wells: For some who may not understand the relationship of poet and editor, could you briefly describe it?
Cappello: It varies according to the editor, but basically, the poet sends work to the editor and the editor reads it and decides if it is publishable. In some cases, an editor will see a poem that is in need of editorial advice, and will supply it. An editor should never make as much as a simple change in a poem without first going over it with the writer. This includes misspellings, errors in punctuation, and other problems the poem might contain. For more serious problems, such as when the editor sees good things in a poem and yet it needs work in order to be a complete poem, the editor might suggest changes, at the same time letting the poet know that he or she is the final judge of their creation.
Wells: What are some of the poetic devices that have become clichés and should be avoided?
Cappello: Rhyming (though sometimes it is acceptable, in the hands of an excellent and skillful poet such as the late Richmond Lattimore); capitalizing the first word of each line even when it isn’t the start of a new sentence; writing three-line poems and calling them “haiku” when they’re not; repetition, although sometimes it can work in a poem.
Wells: What are some of your pet peeves that poets looking to be published do?
Cappello: Main Pet Peeve: not following Philadelphia Poets’ submission guidelines. Some poets send multiple (separate) submissions before I’ve had a chance to look at the first one. Submission here means a manuscript consisting of, according to my guidelines, eight pages of previously unpublished poems. Every year, there’s a poet who sends me two submissions of 15 pages each, and she gets both back, rejected, every year.
Contacting me not long after sending poetry to find out why I haven’t responded. Sending poetry that has been hurriedly written and is not their best poetry. Sending poetry they’ve sent me before and I’ve already rejected.
Sending poetry they’ve sent me before that I’ve already published.
Not advising me of simultaneous submissions, and not letting me know when another publication has accepted it.
These last three apply to poets who do not keep good records and don’t even seem to have knowledge of their own work.
Failing to include bios.
Not staying within my 50-word bio requirement.
Wanting their ms returned, but not placing enough postage on the envelope.
I, for one, am not impressed with the number of places where a poet has been published, the number of awards he or she has won, or the number of degrees they have. With me, the poem’s the thing.
Rosemary Cappello Bio:
Rosemary Cappello’s poetry has appeared in a number of publications, including Anthology of Women Writing, Voices in Italian Americana, Poet Lore, Avanti Popolo, and Iconoclast. Her chapbooks include In the Gazebo, The Sid Poems, and San Paride. Rosemary edits and publishes Philadelphia Poets, which she founded in 1980, and in conjunction with that publication, organizes and presents poetry readings throughout each year and bestows two annual awards. She is a published prose writer as well, mainly of essays and film reviews