Monday, September 20, 2010

Acceptance: Bare Root Review

Bare Root Review took one of my most revealing poems, "Confession."

Academic journals have a pretty high baseline when it comes to quality. They are often situated in an English Department, where a team of diligent bookworms toils over each issue, providing a superb blend of the 3 E’s: enthusiasm, expertise and energy.

Bare Root Review is no exception, and in fact stands out among its peers. Not just high but rather excellent quality. Why do I say this? A number of factors come into play.

First of all, the acceptance rate ( is very low, only 4%, an indicator of meticulous judgement. Second, the journal has been around for five years, which is a sign of commitment, health and experience. Most importantly, the poetry is really really good--not only well-crafted but fresh and (dare I say it) bare.

In other words BRR (it gets cold in Minnesota, so BRR is an appropriate acronym), lives up to its mission statement, part of which reads:

Why "Bare Root" you ask? The name stems from Minnesota's state flower, the pink and white Lady Slipper. The Lady Slipper's roots must be cut and individually transplanted. But once planted, they spread and grow thick.

Under the surface, the roots dive and tangle in a complex bundle we can only appreciate when we dig deep and push aside the chaff. Writing is a high risk, high reward endeavor. Dig deep and don't be afraid to take chances.

We are looking for work like that -- complex and strong and deliciously unexpected.

This leads to my favorite reason to praise Bare Root: the journal has fine flair. The mission statement reads cool, fonts are bold and funky, navigation is fun, and the poetry nestles within a good vibe, appearing alongside revealing photographs of the contributors. (you can take “revealing” any way you want, but you won’t know what I mean until you go to the site and get the bare facts ...)

It seems to me that the editors at this journal add a good dose of their own creativity, and I can’t wait to see what the current leadership (Dannica Dufur and Erin Kyle) come up with. Personally, I hope they preserve the large luscious fonts. The faculty advisor is Anthony Neil Smith.

The Spring 2010 issue contains the work of only four poets, positioning three nascent voices (Heather Cadenhead, KJ Hays and Ben Nardolilli) alongside seasoned word prince Michael Lee Johnson. As mentioned above, the quality is fantastic.

I strongly suggest checking out Bare Root Review and, even better, sending them your most honest psychological exposé.

Good things are happening in a nook of southwest Minnesota!


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