Note:

  • We accept submissions from Canadians and non-Canadians.
  • We pay $50 for poetry.

What On Spec looks for in poetry submissions 

  •  Strong voices that don't  sound like  anyone else.  Original ideas would be great, too, though they're much   harder to come  by. Beautiful, startling images and language. Current and  future   science would be nice.
  •  Basically, we're interested  in contemporary  poetry. That means blank, free verse, or discursive prose  poems.

What we're NOT interested in:

  •  Rhyming poetry. If you send   Pindaric, Horatian or Cowleyan odes, pantoums, sestinas,  sonnets,  villanelles,  haiku, ghazal, or any kind of rhyming couplets --   iambics, anapestics,  dactylics, be they pentameter, tetrameter or any   other kind of rhyme scheme,  we're probably not going to like them. We'll still read them. They just won't get  published. The only exceptions we   can think of is if the poetry you've written  is better than something   written by Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Alfred Noyes,  Li Po, Mallarm√©,   Baudelaire, or any of the other poets who perfected and  pretty well exhausted those earlier forms. Of course, we know you think    you're a genius but, TRUST US ON THIS ONE, if you haven't published   extensively  in magazines devoted to these traditional forms YOU'RE   PROBABLY NOT.
  •  We despise pedestrian rhymes  most of all.  This means obvious ones like moon/June,  sigh/sky, blood/flood,   dark/mark, etc. If you can't be more subtle than  this, we REALLY don't  want to  see your stuff.
  •  Antique language. One of   the things that never ceases to amaze us, when the poetry  batches come  in, is  how many people seem to think writing poetry,  especially horror  and fantasy  poetry, means you have to use antique  language. No. No.  No. If your work  contains words like "thee, thou,  hast, methinks,  begot, forsooth," or  anything of that kind, don't send  it to us. You  don't talk like that so why are you writing like  that? It's a  mannerism and poetry isn't about  mannerisms, or shouldn't  be. The  only exception is if your work is set in a  specific historical  period -  - not just "the olden days." The  "olden days" isn't a  specific  historical period. It's a feeble  generalization used by lazy  writers  who don't want to research the period  they're writing about.  And if  you do set your work in the past, then we don't  want to see  modern  words like "guys, really, cool, gross," or scientific  terms that   hadn't been invented yet creeping in, because that's just as bad.
  •  Religious poetry. If you   have strong religious feelings, that's great, but ON SPEC is a   Speculative  magazine. Send your religious poems to magazines that   specialize in that  subject.
  •  Poetry that only describes  your emotional state.  We have nothing against emotions but,  as in the previous  point, ON SPEC  is a Speculative magazine. We want  more than that. We want  speculation  and ideas. If your poem is only  about your emotions save it for  another  magazine, for your analyst,  psychologist, social worker,  friends, or family  members.  As for ideas, if you're  just pondering the mysteries of the   universe without coming to an  original (different) conclusion about it  than  anybody else, why would we  want to know about that either?

Well, as you can tell, our list of what we DO want to see is much shorter    than our list of what we don't want to see. If you want examples of the   kind of poetry  we do admire here are a few names: Al Purdy, Lorna   Crozier, Christopher Dewdney,  Gary Geddes, Alice Major, Stan Rogal,   Lillian Necakov, John Yau, Bob Perelman,  Clayton Eshleman, Lyn Lifshin,   Anne Waldman, Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Bukowski,  Jim Carroll, Diane   Ackerman, and John Giorno. If you haven't heard of these poets, then you have some reading to do. 

A good guideline is to look at the anthology called Poly: New    Speculative Writing edited by Lee Ballentine, or (even though it's not   poetry)  the kind of writing in Storming The Reality Studio edited by   Larry McCaffery. And  don't try to copy them, or anybody else, because we want original stuff, remember.

Naturally you're thinking, well, that's  just the editor's  personal taste. You bet. All editors have their own personal opinions  of what they want  to  see. And our poetry editors are no different. If you don't like it, send your  poetry to   another magazine. Better yet, start your own magazine. 

If you got all the way through this without dashing off an angry tweet, by all means, send us your work. We are looking for new voices.