Poetry Friday: “How do I get to read at the Dodge Festival?”

Members of the Dodge Poetry Program staff are often asked, “How do I get to read at the Dodge Festival?”

The answer is deceptively simple: We read every submission and review every audio or video recording sent to us, regardless of the credentials or publication history of the sender.  In fact, every submission is reviewed by at least three members of our staff.  When the time approaches when we must start planning the line-up for the next Festival, the staff gathers together and compares notes.

Poets appear at every Festival who came to our attention through this process.  The hardest part of our job is narrowing down the list of potential readers.  There are always far more poets we would like to invite than there are available reading slots in the program.  For this reason, we never really “reject” anyone.  (We understand that to those not invited in a given year it certainly feels that way.)  Instead, we hold onto submissions, often following a poet’s development for years.  We maintain hundreds of files on contemporary poets.

We consider maintaining these files an essential part of the process of educating ourselves about the state of contemporary poetry and searching for new voices to introduce to our audience.  We have never released a formal request for submissions because our search for poets remains ongoing.  Poetry Program staff members are busy year-round reading books, journals, web pages, submissions and referrals, listening to audio and video recordings, and attending readings, open mikes and slams.

Then there is the long list of widely known, highly acclaimed poets, many of whom have appeared at previous Dodge Festivals, who are always up for consideration.  If you’ve never attended the Dodge Festival, you can visit the Festival 2010 and Festival Background pages on our website to get some sense of the poets who’ve appeared in the past, or go to the Doge Festival YouTube Channel to hear some of them read.

So, you can see why the original answer offered above is deceptively simple compared to what is a very complex process.  If you are interested in submitting your work, please send a cover letter, résumé, work sample (copies of books, or 20 pages of poetry), and an audio or video recording of a reading to:

Martin Farawell
Program Director, Poetry
Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
14 Maple Ave.
PO Box 1239
Morristown, NJ 07962-1239

We also encourage you to send us listings of any readings you may have scheduled in the tri-state area.

The one thing we do not encourage you to do is to call or write to us asking for comments on your submission or progress reports on its status.  We have a small staff, and we actually do take the time to carefully review every submission.  We simply can’t dedicate the time required for that necessary work if we are forced to field such requests.

We will send an initial confirmation letter, and afterward we only contact poets we are planning to invite to either the Festival or another Poetry Program event.

We have extended the postmark deadline for our current round of submissions to December 15, 2011.  We do not accept electronic submissions. Be sure to only send us materials you do not need returned to you.

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For more about the Dodge Poetry Festival, please visit www.dodgepoetry.org

Support the Dodge Poetry Archive and Poetry Program. Click here.

Did you know that the Dodge Poetry Program has a YouTube channel? Take a look – view video clips from past biennial Festivals! You can also join the conversation on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @dodgepoetryfest. See you there!

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