The poetry selections for the next issue – takahē 88, due out in early December – have all been made, and the issue sent off to layout. It’s looking really good, with a couple of contributors making their first appearance in print, alongside some of the most respected names in New Zealand literature. Just what we like to see.
Interestingly, this is the first time I’ve had more male than female poets in an issue. I don’t attempt to have any sort of gender balance going on – plenty of times I have no idea of the gender of a particular contributor until they send me their author photo! – but the trend over the last few years’ worth of issues has been roughly two-thirds female to one-third male. Which is a reasonably good approximation of the overall ratio of submissions, as it happens, with the trend over the last twelve months being an increase in the number of submissions from male poets. From a geographical perspective, we’re getting a lot more submissions from overseas – lots from the USA, quite a few from Australia and the UK, and then a scattering from other places. It’s great that takahē is known so widely!
There is, however, still one place left in the issue that has yet to be filled: the winner of the 2016 poetry competition. I’m really looking forward to finding out the results, because we’ve had some spectacular poems taking it out in the past. I’ll be combing through the rest of the entries to see if there are some that I’d like to snaffle for the April issue of takahē, so even if you don’t managed to get placed in the competition, you may still hear from me.
A brief note about the reading periods for the poetry section. I read all the submissions during the first two or three weeks of each reading period, and make the selections as I go. Everything that comes in after I start selecting is held over to the next reading period. To minimise the amount of time you’ll need to wait between submitting and getting a response, your best bet is to submit in the week or two before the reading period starts. I know the times seem a bit strange, but due to the time needed in preproduction we actually have to have everything done and ready to be laid out and proofread a good eight or so weeks before the issue is published. Hence the reading period being just after the new issue comes out. But this can actually work in your favour, at least in terms of remembering to send in your submission: as soon as you’ve finished reading current issue, send in a submission for the next one!