Free Verse Needs Submissions

Community High’s student literary publication, Free Verse, is in need of submissions if there is to be a magazine first semester. However, Judith DeWoskin said this is the usual pattern for submissions. “The truth about submissions is that every time we put up our posters, I usually give kids about a two week minimum. If I put them up any earlier, then [the students] are going to ignore them. And even with two weeks, students tend to ignore them until the very last minute. So that means that for eight or nine days, I get to worry myself sick that maybe we won’t have a magazine, because if we don’t, we don’t,” said DeWoskin. “So I always think, ‘Well, if you don’t get enough submissions first semester, I’ll save what I have and put it out second semester’. But we usually at the last minute get enough.”

DeWoskin noted here is wiggle room for pushing the deadline back to Monday, the 5th of November, but that is as far as she is willing to go. “I need stuff; I don’t have enough yet. I have maybe 30 poems and 4 stories, and I will be more comfortable with 60 or 70 poems and at least 7 or 8 stories.” She also explained a submission inequality that occurs with the first semester publication. “Typically, the first semester book is shorter and is more poetry heavy, and the second semester book is longer and has more stories.”

Once DeWoskin begins teaching her short story writing class, and gives her creative writing class a chance to try their hand at stories, people will feel more comfortable submitting stories.

Before DeWoskin was the one sending out Nag Patrol, a group of student editors who go out each fifth block and remind students to submit, that job fell to Vicky Henry. Henry was in charge of Free Verse for about 10 years, according to DeWoskin, and shortly after she arrived to teach at Community, it was her turn. “I’ve done it for 24 years.” DeWoskin said with a little laugh, “It’s old.”

Free Verse is so old, in fact, that DeWoskin can remember when typewriters and copying machines were used in the process of making the magazine. “I know that when we used to do it, we had typewriters. And we were just excited if most of the pieces were typed in the same font; there were only two fonts. And when she [Henry] when she laid the book out, she used t-squares, blue pencils, because you don’t see the blue, and magic mending tape. We must have used some white out, but we literally cut and pasted things. And we would paste, by paste I mean use this magic mending tape, and you used to have to press it really hard with your thumbnail to get all the rumples out so that you didn’t see an edge when we went into Xeroxing. ‘Cause we always laid these things out by ourselves.”

Thankfully for the editors of Free Verse, Page Maker and InDesign were invented, and the process was significantly sped up. Still, between getting all the submissions needed to get the magazine out each semester, and making sure those submissions are appropriate, DeWoskin and the editors have their work cut out for them.