Open for submissions February 1–28 and August 1–31, 2021. Poems received outside of this submission period will not be read.
Submit between 5–10 unpublished haiku/senryu. I’m looking to publish the full spectrum of haiku/senryu, from the traditional to the experimental. All poems must be your own original work. Please submit only once per issue.
No previously published haiku/senryu. I acknowledge that every journal has different definitions of “published,” so here are mine: if a poem has appeared in a journal (print or online), or a personal blog, or been posted on social media, please don’t send it to Kingfisher. If it has placed in a contest, don’t send it to Kingfisher. If it has been published in an anthology, don’t send it to Kingfisher. If it has appeared in a self-published chapbook, don’t send it to Kingfisher. If it has appeared as part of another poem, such as a haibun or rengay, don’t send it to Kingfisher. If it has appeared in your local paper, or on a bus placard, or etched into a stone in a botanical garden, don’t send it to Kingfisher. You get the idea. If you have any questions, please ask.
No simultaneous submissions. My goal is to keep the turn-around time between receiving submissions and notifying you of my decision as short as possible. You can help me with this by keeping good records of your submissions.
Please send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Submission: (your name).” No attachments. No fancy fonts. Let your work speak for itself. If you feel that there’s something in your formatting that isn’t going to come across via email, please let me know. There is no need to include a lengthy cover letter, and I don’t need to know your publishing credentials, though I do enjoy brief, personal notes.
Please include your name as you wish to see it in print, as well as your location. For example, “Tanya McDonald, Woodinville, Washington.”
Sorry, no payment or contributor copies. Subscriptions will be available through the website (PayPal, credit card) or by personal check (made out to Tanya McDonald).
What I’m Looking for:
- Concrete imagery.
- Specificity, when applicable. Is your poem stronger with “bird” or “wren” or “Pacific wren”? (Fair warning: I know a bit about birds.)
- Freshness, which is to say, your particular way of observing the world and your particular way of phrasing those observations.
- Diverse voices and subjects. We are all unique and wondrous, and I intend to celebrate that in this journal. You can help by sending me poems that reflect your unique self, and by encouraging others whose voices aren’t being heard to send me their poems, too.
- Poetry. How the poem looks on the page, how it sounds aloud, the emotions it evokes. Haiku is a concise form of poetry, but that doesn’t mean one should forsake poetic devices like alliteration, metaphor, line breaks, assonance, punctuation, etc.
- Contemporary subjects and environments. Whatever is true to your experience.
- Traditional and more experimental ku. From The Heron’s Nest to Heliosparrow, from #FemkuMag to Modern Haiku.
- Basically, I’m looking to be dazzled by your subtle brilliance.
What I’m Less Keen on:
- Vague words, like dreams, memories, wishes, etc.
- Soapbox statements (as ever, show, don’t tell).
- Stilted language and awkward line breaks. Plus padding a poem with extra words to adhere to a 5-7-5 syllable count.
- Dedications or stated inspirations. For me, the poem needs to stand on its own, which means no “for Jane Doe” or “to my cat” or “after Issa” or “inspired by the Mona Lisa.” Fit that information into the poem, or consider sending to another journal.
- Imitations of the subjects or styles of the Japanese masters from centuries ago. Find your own style, observe your own world. This means if you’re going to write about frogs and their ponds, bamboo, cherry blossoms, or the moon, the poem needs to be particularly awesome. (I say this because I’ve judged haiku contests on the theme of cherry blossoms and on the theme of the moon, which means I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of haiku on both subjects.)
What you can expect from me:
Prompt acknowledgment that I’ve received your submission. If you don’t hear back from me within a week of sending your submission, please contact me. Email is not infallible. Nor am I. But I do want to read your submission, so don’t be afraid to follow-up if a week passes with no response from me.
Poems will be read in the order in which they are received. You can expect to hear back from me within a week of sending your submission. If it’s been more than a week and you haven’t heard from me, please feel free to contact me, but otherwise I would ask for your patience.
A note on rejections:
There are many factors involved in selecting and not selecting poems for a journal. To give your poems the best chance possible, please make sure you follow the submission guidelines (for Kingfisher and every other journal to which you submit). Sometimes, a submission is full of decent poems, but none of them dazzled me. This doesn’t mean they’ve failed, only that other poems stood out more. Maybe it was due to the freshness of subject, or a particular turn of phrase, or the sound when I read it aloud, or any number of other factors. Likewise, maybe I didn’t select a poem because I’d just read one similar to it in Modern Haiku, or I’d already accepted a poem on petroglyphs for this issue, or because I’d read too many poems lately about skinny-dipping, or because it was cliché, or because I failed to understand it, or any number of other reasons.
Rejection isn’t fun, but don’t get discouraged. Patience, practice, and persistence. Just because I don’t accept your poems for Kingfisher doesn’t mean that another journal might not take them. Sometimes it takes a while for a poem to find the right editor. Sometimes it takes revision, which is where trusted friends, haiku books, and workshops can help. And yes, sometimes you have to just let go of a poem and focus on others. Keep at it, read lots (see Resources https://kingfisherjournal.com/resources/), seek feedback, and keep writing!
I look forward to reading your poems!