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A poet's hope: to be like some valley cheese, local, but prized everywhere.

—W. H. Auden

Submitting Poems to Windfall

Windfall is looking for poems of place, specifically places in the Pacific Northwest (defined as a broad bioregion extending from the North Slope of Alaska to the Bay Area of California, and from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast). Place can be named or unnamed, but if unnamed, then location should be clearly implied or suggested by observed detail. The poet does not have to be living in the Pacific Northwest, but the poem does.

Place, whether background or foreground, should be essential to the meaning of the poem. Place should be vital in the development of the poem, or the speaker’s perspective, or the texture of image and detail. Simply attaching a place name to a generic poem of place will not do. Windfall favors poetry of observed detail that is informed and accurate, even when it is conflicted about what constitutes informed and accurate detail. Place to us is not a general metaphor (“where you are at”), but first of all, actual. As Ezra Pound once said, “The natural object is always the adequate symbol.”

Windfall regards the term “place” as inclusive of both urban and natural locales, peopled or unpeopled. If many of the poems we publish reflect more of nature than the city, this reflects the poetry we receive, rather than any bias of our own. Most places have been affected in many ways by human presence, and poems can reflect this. Within the broad parameters described above, we tend to let the poems submitted teach us what place is or may mean in poetry.

Since we look for informed and accurate detail, it follows that we favor poetry based on imagery derived from sensory observation of surfaces, which, as one writer said, is the only way we have to come to know the depths. While language as the medium of poetry is an important consideration, Windfall favors poetry that is about something other than itself or its language. A poetry of place is another way of expressing love of the world and of being in the world, perhaps the fundamental motive and experience of art.
Windfall also favors poetry that occurs in lines and stanzas, mainly because they tend to be more interesting. Lines and stanzas generate energy and opportunities for parallelism and complexity that may often be missing in columns of lines and prose poems. “Lines and stanzas” does not here mean “meter and rhyme.” We have nothing against meter and rhyme, and have in fact published several sonnets. Rather, we advocate a different dispensation, as old as orality, wherein poetry was organized by the content of its themes, figures, imagery, and perspective, rather than by formalized rhythm and sound (with which, as Robert Bringhurst says, poets began to “farm” language in neat rows). We have published the occasional column of lines and the occasional prose poem, when these reflect place well, which is our first consideration. But lines and stanzas mean the poet is inviting us to use our inferential powers, to be active readers, and this is what we look for.

More about poetry of place can be found in the Afterwords written by the editors for every issue. These short essays attempt to indicate past traditions, further readings, and a variety of perspectives on what might constitute poetry of place. They are not prescriptive of any approach, but are meant to suggest and inspire the writing of poems. All Afterwords may be downloaded from the Windfall web site: <>.

Windfall accepts only work that has not been previously published. If a poem has appeared in another periodical or book, then it has already found readers, and we would rather provide opportunity for new work to be read. Though you may have already published a poem of place that would be perfect for Windfall, keep in mind Jack Spicer’s admonition: “There are always plenty of poems.” Place, fully conceived, is an inexhaustible source.

Submissions of up to five short poems (not exceeding fifty lines each) may be submitted online by sending them as a single MS Word attachment to Poems should be separated by an inserted page break (not a series of returns), and name, postal address, and e-mail address should appear on every page.

Submissions sent by US Mail should include a self-addressed return envelope with first-class postage and an e-mail address. As with e-mail submissions, poems should be separated by an inserted page break, and name, postal address, and e-mail address should appear on every page. Send hard-copy submissions to Editors, Windfall Press, PO Box 19751, Portland, OR 97280.

  • Deadline for submissions to the fall issue: August 1.
  • Submission period for the fall issue: May, June, July
  • Deadline for submissions to the spring issue: February 1
  • Submission period for the spring issue: November, December, January

It’s best to send poems close to the deadline for the particular issue of Windfall you are submitting for since we make no editorial decisions until after the deadline. Better the poems should stay with you for further revision till close to the deadline, for, as Paul Valery said, “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.”

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Copyright ©  2020 Windfall Press
P.O. Box 19751, Portland, OR 97280
ISSN 1542-1015