Let Your Words Take Flight

Do you keep the poems and stories you write safely inside small yellow folders on your computer?

Do you treat those folders like incubators, opening them every now and then to check how your offspring are doing but always deciding your words aren’t yet ready for the world beyond your screen?

At some point, if you have any ambition to be published, you know you’re going to have to mail that poem or story off. Transfer it from a two-dimensional yellow computer folder to a three-dimensional yellow manila envelope.

But where is the best place to send your work? Produced more frequently and cheaply than books and providing more chances of publication than contests, literary journals are a great place to start when you’re ready to let your fledglings spread their wings.

The Yukon doesn’t have its own literary journal at present, though publications such as Out of Service have existed in the past, so you have to look beyond the border for opportunities. You can find an extensive list of literary journals on the Canadian Literature website at www.canlit.ca.

One publication relatively close to home is Vancouver-based Geist magazine, printed four times a year and always open to fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry submissions.

“We look at everything that comes in from anywhere and we particularly encourage submissions from anywhere in Canada,” says Geist’s senior editor, Mary Schendlinger.

“We are particularly interested in narrative: writing that tells a story,” she continues.

“We like smart stories with a fresh take and a minimum of self-reflection. A story can be prose, poetry, photos and text combined, drawings and text combined. It can be a short dispatch, 200 to 1,000 words, or a long story, fiction or non-fiction, any length.”

Geist, in fact, goes out of its way to help writers. The Writers’ Toolbox at www.geist.com is full of tips and techniques (Schendlinger especially recommends Narrative: Six Principles and Some Examples) and there are lesson plans and handouts for writing teachers on Geist in the Classroom pages.

All literary journals will encourage you to become familiar with their publication before sending them your work and Geist is no different: “We urge writers and artists to read and digest an issue or two of the mag before submitting,” says Schendlinger.

You also always need to read the contributor guidelines of course.

“Geist is a literary magazine of ideas and culture with a focus on Canada and a sense of humour,” Schendlinger explains.

“We want to comprehend how Canadians imagine this place, through stories, articles, reviews, comics, rants and little-known facts.

“One of our promo slogans a couple years ago was ‘Can a magazine be smart, funny AND Canadian?’ Yup.”

So if you can bear to let your fledglings take flight, journals such as Geist might be able to provide them with a safe landing.

Says Schendlinger: “We await the flood of fabulous material from Yukon!”

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