Open for submissions February 1–29 and August 1–31, 2024. 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Submit between 5–10 unpublished haiku/senryu.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. Bilingual haiku are welcome (preferably translated by the author). 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 been curated, I consider that to be published, so please don’t send it to Kingfisher. To me, curated means that it was selected by someone else for publication, such as in a journal (print or online), in a contest, or for an anthology. Furthermore, if a poem 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, haiga, or rengay, don’t send it to Kingfisher. If you’ve shared it on social media, that’s not curated, so it’s okay. If you’ve workshopped it in a writing group, that’s not curated, so it’s fine to submit. If you have any questions, please ask: email@example.com.
One of the reasons for this is that I nominate haiku and senryu from Kingfisher for awards (like the Touchstones) and anthologies (like the Red Moon Anthologies) and I don’t have the time to track down the original publishing credits for previously published poems. I also do not have space in Kingfisher to print previous publishing credits. And ultimately, it’s the editor’s prerogative to establish guidelines for submissions, and I want to be the first one to show your brilliant poems to the world.
Do you write haiku in another language? I would love to read your work with an English translation (preferably your own).
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. If you find you’ve made a mistake, please notify me as soon as possible.
Please send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Submission: (your name).” No attachments. No fancy fonts. Let your poems speak for themselves. 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. Wondering how to address your submission? I’ll make it easy for you: Dear Tanya, or Dear Ms. McDonald are just fine.
Please include your name as you wish to see it in print, as well as your location. For example, “Tanya McDonald, Happy Valley, Oregon.” I include locations in the index.
Sorry, no payment or contributor copies. Subscriptions will be available through the website (PayPal, credit card), by personal check (made out to Tanya McDonald), or cash (U.S. funds only).
What I’m Looking for:
- Haiku that leave something unsaid, something for the reader to discover. This is one of the most difficult things to do well in a haiku. For an excellent essay on the subject, please check out Susan Antolin’s “Haiku Aesthetics: A Look at Understatement” in Modern Haiku: https://www.modernhaiku.org/issue47-3/Antolin-HaikuAesthetics-MH47-3.pdf
- 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.
- Concrete imagery.
- Specificity, when applicable. Is your poem stronger with “bird” or “wren” or “Pacific wren”? How does that effect the meaning and the rhythm?
- 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 it should forsake poetic devices like alliteration, metaphor, line breaks, assonance, punctuation, etc.
- Freshness, which is to say, your particular way of observing the world and your particular way of phrasing those observations. (I’m a fan of disjunction.)
- Contemporary subjects and environments. Whatever is true to your experience (physical, psychological, etc). If your environment is urban and full of concrete and dirty pigeons, write about that. If your favorite haunt is indeed an old pond that’s populated with amphibians, write about that.
- Traditional and more experimental ku. You can send up to 10 poems, so send me some variety.
- Basically, I’m looking to be dazzled by your subtle brilliance.
What I’m Less Keen on:
- Vague words, like dreams, memories, wishes, etc.
- Poems that over-explain the moment/scene and are too obvious.
- Soapbox statements and rants (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.
- Titles, 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 isn’t to say you can’t write about cherry blossoms or frogs in their ponds, but if you do, please make it fresh.
- Poems that specifically name the season (winter, spring, summer, fall). Sometimes, that is the best word to modify another word, but you might consider whether you can imply the season rather than state it outright. I do still accept haiku that name the season, but I am conscious of how many I accept for each issue (it makes sequencing a challenge). The same goes for ____ moon haiku.
- One-line poems that are over 54 characters long. More than that and no matter how brilliant, they won’t fit on the page.
- Please don’t send sequences or tanka. There are plenty of other journals which publish these forms, but Kingfisher is not one of them.
What you can expect from me:
Poems will be read in the order in which they are received and I respond to every submission, whether it’s an acceptance or a rejection. If you don’t hear back from me within about two weeks 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 two weeks pass with no response from me. I appreciate 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 about 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. Sometimes my submissions get rejected, too. Just because I don’t accept your poems for Kingfisher doesn’t mean that another journal might not take them. In almost every journal I read, I see poems that I didn’t accept for Kingfisher and I’m happy that those poems have found a home. 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!