As writers, we all come to the page differently, asking our own questions, seeking and scribbling down our own answers, and, of course, writing from our own experiences. Still, we share many of the same tendencies. We all learn by reading and enjoying the work of other writers. Art itself can be the artist’s best teacher. This idea was foremost in our minds in 2010, when we compiled our collection, Mentor and Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets (Southern Illinois University Press), an anthology of essays that investigates the elements of poetry through practice. The book unveils the insights poets gained while writing or reading a particular poem or set of poems. Each essay closes with a prompt that challenges readers to reconsider their own understanding of that principle.
With much excitement, we launched Mentor and Muse online in 2018. Working in our new electronic format, we hope to give more poets access to the already published essays, offer a wider range of topics, and acquire greater flexibility in both the style and medium in which poets engage their subjects.
Each piece will again typically consist of three components—the essay, the prompt, and the poem(s) under consideration within the essay. Before submission, we strongly encourage you to review the essays included on our website or in our printed book. Patricia Clark’s essay, “Double Vision: The Tactic of Indirection in the Lyric Poem,” originally published in our 2010 print anthology, provides an especially good model for prospective contributors. Clark examines Stanley Plumly’s poem, “Lapsed Meadow,” to chart the often circuitous, elliptical movements of the lyric. The essay includes Plumly’s poem and an example of indirection within the writer’s own work, and closes with a writing prompt, inviting readers to put the ideas explored in the essay into practice. We also encourage writers to take innovative approaches to the project, as you can see in the interview with Phillis Levin, “Recording Mortal Sight: The Drama of Prosody,” posted on Poetry Daily.
To submit your work to Mentor and Muse online, please email the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each essay submission should consider how a poem—yours or someone else’s—has helped you to better understand a specific poetic principle. As we cannot cover any reprinting costs, please select poems that are within the public domain or poems that can already be accessed online. Each piece should also close with a writing prompt inspired by the chosen poem. (Suggested submission length: 750 to 2,500 words).
We encourage potential contributors to begin where they are most compelled, with the poems that act as touchstones, poems that they return to again and again for inspiration, solace, and guidance. Questions about subject or style or mode should be directed to us at email@example.com.
We read submissions year round.
We are thrilled to share our new project with you and grateful for your continued interest and support. We truly look forward to reading your work.
All the best,
Blas Falconer, Beth Martinelli, Helena Mesa, and Shannon K. Winston