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Welcome the words - poet Karla Linn Merrifield

I’m thrilled to share with you this interview with Karla Linn Merrifield - our Sending Nudes and Tattoo Anthology contributor - with some great information for poets who are pitching agents and publishers.

1. Tell us about yourself.

Hello to all Guts Publishing fans like me. I'm a native West Virginian whose family moved north to Western New York when I was 11. It was a strange but wonderful time for a pre-teen. I lost my southern twang, made a few friends, and found profound companionship in writing.

For my 11th birthday my mom gave me a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank, which launched my career as a poet. If that Jewish girl who kept a journal while trying to escape the Nazi invasion could write, I might also. She too scribbled poems. I felt I owed it to her spirit to follow her lead, and began writing a journal, a practice I continue to this day. That too was when I wrote my first poem of thousands, hundreds of which have been published individually or in the 16 books that have been published since.

2. Tell us about your first published book of poetry. When did you write it?

My first book, a chapbook entitled Midst, written in 2006, was published that year by a NY State-based publisher, Foothills Publishing. They'd just published a fellow poet and friend's first book, and I thought I'd give them a try. They snatched it up almost overnight.

3. How did you pitch it?

I never had to really pitch it per se. I just name-dropped MJ's reference, and bingo.

4. How long did it take you to find a publisher, and who was it?

Foothills was remarkably responsive and supportive. Yes, overnight!

5. Do you have any advice for poets who are currently pitching agents and publishers?

Know your audience. Imagine whom you want to be reading your creations: Age? Gender? Race? Education level? Sexual orientation?

What topic(s) do you usually address in your poems? Nature and the environmental? Geographical? Family, friends, lovers? Which journals might be interested?

Do your research. Visit prospective journals' websites. Get to know what each likes, who the editors are, the poets they've published, and what the criteria are for submission. But the first job always is to simply to show up. Welcome the words.

6. What have you been working on recently?

I'm working on several full-length manuscripts at various stages of completion. One is slated for publication in September, a sometimes-sexy memoir in poems, by an Aussie publisher. Fingers crossed. Perseverance!

Besides, I'm one of those Type A people pop psychologists talk about. Always doing, doing, doing. Plus, I'm a Virgo, hyper organized. Disciplined! Hence, the tracking system I devised 15 years ago to indeed track the 40-some submissions I do per month. It's a game for me like doing a crossword puzzle. And comes with a tangible sense of accomplishment. Even though I'm now walking in the shadow of chemotherapy.

Humans have been writers since our beginning. I'm not going to let cancer stop me.

Readers are welcome to visit Karla's website and blog at

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