Poetry for Cordite 87: DIFFICULT is guest-edited by Oscar Schwartz and Holly Isemonger.
Says Holly: Poems can be spiky, sassy, cutting and frustrating – difficulty is built into how we perceive them. Probably as a result of schooling – a process that can excel at removing pleasure from thinking, learning and reading – we grow up learning to sap ‘meaning’ from poetry rather than enjoy the experience of the words. We don’t give a shit, as young children, about the ‘message’ of songs and nursery rhymes … the pleasure comes from the sounds and shapes of words, humour, formal invention, strange narratives and sensual descriptions. The term ‘difficult’ is often levelled at poems that don’t have an easily accessible meaning. We worry that we didn’t ‘get it’ and we worry that we are dumb because we don’t. This anxiety removes the pleasure from poetry that, in turn, makes poems ‘difficult’. We want poems that don’t worry about being difficult. Poems that bask in the pleasure of the ‘not knowing’.
Says Oscar: Difficult poems pose a challenge and don’t fit in. They are restless and refuse to conform, and they must annoy at least one person. We want these poems. But we don’t want to limit what’s ‘difficult’ in the way others have historically used this term. Difficult doesn’t just mean difficult language or difficult syntax or difficult grammar or difficult form. Difficult poetry can be written with simple phrases. A rhyming quatrain can be difficult. A simple poem about your feelings can be difficult, maybe the most difficult of all. Difficult poetry doesn’t have to be open for multiple interpretations: maybe it’s difficult because it poses a single political interpretation. Difficult poetry can even be ornamental. Just as long as it is thorny and sticks in the side of something or someone. It must annoy one person. That person would call you difficult if they read the poem … maybe write it with this person in mind.
Submit poems (prose, comics, visual, concrete) or works of micro-fiction (500 words maximum). Read more about submitting to Cordite Poetry Review. Please note:
1. We will only read submissions sent during our official submission periods.
2. Cordite maintains a hybrid submissions policy. This means that the guest editor may invite five (5) Australian and five (5) overseas authors directly to submit to the issue. In addition, the guest-editor will anonymously select an additional 30-35 works from Australian authors and use their discretion to select further overseas works. For each issue, the guest editor does not know the identities of the online contributors (via Submittable) until after the final selections have been made.
3. Simultaneous submissions or previously published material will not be considered. This includes works published in print and web journals but does not apply to material first published on personal blogs.
4. Please place up to three (3) poems in one (1) Word, RTF or PDF document (unless specifically noted otherwise for special issues), with no identifying details in the document itself.
5. We are not able to offer feedback on individual poems.
6. Submissions will only be accepted via Submittable …
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