Submitter’s Bill of Rights

In our on-going effort to try and counteract the arrogance, rudeness and small-mindedness that still lingers in the world of small-press publishing, we are instituting a Submitter’s Bill of Rights.  We want to remain an oasis of respect, openness and hyper-focus when it comes to your artwork.  This Bill of Rights will evolve over time.  We are calling it a Bill of Rights but it is really a compilation of rights, terms and conditions.  We will add and remove as we discover, with your help, what works best for our circle of submitters.  As always, we ask your forbearance when we fall victim ourselves to the mistakes we are decrying above and below.  We will start with these commitments:

  1. THERE IS NO SINGLE AESTHETIC THAT INFORMS OUR SELECTIONS –  We don’t believe in any aesthetic standards the artwork should meet.  We are most interested in aesthetics that you discover, refine and offer us.
  2. THERE ARE NO TRADE-CRAFT RULES – present the artwork in whatever form makes sense to you.  If it is meaningful and moving for us, we will publish it.  Using writing as an example: spacing, punctuation, word choice, line break and line flow, left/center/right justification, upper case or lower case – any application or disruption of the rules of grammar you might find in “The Elements of Style” or “The Book of Forms” is fine.
  3. WE ARE CALLED “THE RAW ART REVIEW” FOR A REASON –  We are fine with artwork that is unrefined – especially if you think you might be editing out the power resonating in the work of art.  We think you should spend some time with the finished work before sending it.  Sit, mediate, get to know it.  But too much tinkering can ruin the original.
  4. WE TAKE ANYTHING THAT YOU SUBMIT AS YOUR ARTWORK – Prose, poetry, photos of paintings/drawings/etchings/sculpture/pottery, photography, videos, videos of performance art, music – songs and compositions, mix media.etc.  If YOU think it is art, feel free to submit it.  We think questions like “Is it art?” or “What is art” are an absurdly, irrelevant and wanton indulgence.   And, we think any attempt to answer that question is an exercise in futility and a waste of precious time on this earth.
  5. IF WE THINK IT WILL HELP OTHERS SURVIVE, IT WILL BE PUBLISHED –  This seems decidedly not a literary consideration, but for us it should be.  We believe art can save people.  In the enduring polemic on whether a poem is a matter of life and death or a just little puzzle to occupy our time, we  come down on the side of the latter – though  we do love play in art.
  6. IF IT IS TRULY DANGEROUS, HURTFUL OR OFFENSIVE (IN OUR ESTIMATION), IT WILL BE REJECTED.  We will not reject artwork for the use of taboo language, open eroticism, constructive ranting, meaningful explorations of violence and hate, or other forms of expression that might violate societal or cultural norms.  We draw the a line at racism, personal attacks (if you direct open attacks at a person or another publication, for example), personal hateful catharsis and other forms of artistic expression that is primarily intended to hurt or endanger another person or group of people.  Combativeness and criticism are literary devices and are essential to useful artistic expression – but producing art for the sole purpose of causing pain to another and feeling better about yourself will result in rejection.
  7. THERE ARE NO GOOD AND BAD WORKS OF ART –  We really do mean this.    In considering whether an artwork will be published, there are only works of art that are meaningful and moving to our editors.  We are doing our best to be ecumenical; to break out of our own frames-of-reference, to clear our mind of prejudices and open up to the work of art.  There will inevitably be submissions we fail to understand and assimilate.  This is not a reflection of the work.  There will be others – perhaps on our own editorial staff – who will at some place and time find the work meaningful and moving.  No fine arts education, no resume of acceptances, no public recognition, no superstar artist status, no academic standing, no years of experience, gives anyone the right to call a work of art good or bad.
  8. NO GENRE DISCRIMINATION –  We believe ANY genre can produce an exquisitely beautiful work of art.  We also think that genre distinctions are arbitrary and counterproductive.  We want to encourage the fragmentation and dissolution of these confinements so that they can be reformed in ways that overlap, synergize and produce new, fresh things.
  9. NO UNSOLICITED FEEDBACK –  We do not enter into the experience of your artwork with any attempt to educate you, correct your work or encourage you to meet our aesthetic or set of standards.  We believe it is hubris for us to assume we can correct your work.
  10. WE ARE FINE WITH UPDATES TO THE SUBMITTED WORK –  Submittable has a tool that allows you to edit the work.  You can “open for editing” and make changes to the work we are reading.  Our practice will be to stop the review of your work will it is “open for editing”.  When you “close for editing” we will recompense our review.  NOTE:  We can not hold up the process for the rest of the submitters.  Works that are still open for editing after deadlines will have to wait for the next submission cycle to be considered for publication.
  11. BREAKDOWNS IN FORM DO NOT LEAD TO AUTOMATIC REJECTION –  We do not reject submissions for typos, atypical composition in a piece of visual art, stuttering or wandering in a video etc.  We assume the “error” is volitional and we ask you about it.
  12. WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT THE POEM IS IMPORTANT –  Statements like ” the poem should stand on its own” are beautiful and pure but impractical and inefficient.  Editors could be reading or reviewing a thousand works of art for a journal issue or a contest.  We can use all the help we can get.  So, we are hereby deputizing you to our editorial staff.  You can use the cover letter to tell us about the experience of creating the work of art, what it means to you, etc.  In fact, we love reading your letters.  They are sometimes as beautiful as the artwork we are reviewing.
  14. OPEN-MINDED EDITORIAL APPROACH – Our Editors will assume you are smarter than we are.  We will strive to understand your intention, listen to your insights, and avoid imposing our presumptions on your work.
  15. NO TRITE AND SELF-AGGRANDIZING “FEEDBACK” –  We will never use irresponsible and self-aggrandizing slurs to describe your work like “purple writing” or “that technique is a gimmick”.  We see experimentation, rebellion and iconoclasm as integral to producing fresh and powerful artwork.  We are not looking for you to produce artwork according to our manifesto – (we don’t have one) and reject demeaning labels.
  16. WE WILL NEVER-EVER MAKE CHANGES TO YOUR WORK.  We believe that this is a sacrilege.  We believe this practice, which we know has happened elsewhere, shows a reprehensible level of disrespect to the artist.  Our experience is that it happens most often with writing – an editor sends back a version of your writing with changes he/she has made unilaterally.  We know of no incident where an editor  (or gallery owner) has dabbed some paint on a painting (physically or electronically) or has digitally altered a photo.  This is hard to imagine.  It should be equally as hard to imagine for your writing.
  17. GUARANTEED PERSONAL RESPONSE:  Every piece whether accepted or declined will get a personal and positive response.  This will help us as editors pay attention to your work, find the artistic value that is always there, and overcome our own limitations.
  18. THE 5 REJECTIONS RULE:  If your work has received 5 consecutive rejections, please call this to our attention.  Your work will then receive special focus during the next submission cycle.  NOTE:  This is five separate submissions – not 5 total works submitted.
  19. EDITING SERVICES:  RAR will be offering editing services.  If you are looking to collaborate on your work, we are offering the first round of dialog and engagement for free.  If you wish to continue collaborating on your work, we are offering extended editing services for a fee.  This will be a partnership – a give and take dialog – not a RAR Editor running through a track-changes exercise .  The fee will be $40 per hour with a firm estimate of time and cost provided in advance.  In addition to helping us better understand you and helping you see how your artwork might resonate with additional impact, the focus of the editing will be to prepare your work for publication for upcoming RAR issue, as well as other publications.