I was just reading Robin Houghton’s blog in which, among other things, she mentions how long she’s had some poetry submissions out to magazines. Her current ‘waiting to hear’ maximum is 77 days. I smiled a bit, as two of my submissions are now at 115 and 91 days. The best way to deal with such delays is to ignore it; keep writing, keep submitting, expect nothing one way or the other (neatly summed up by Cameron Self, in a poem Antiphon‘s quoted before). It is frustrating, but generally a long wait is more positive than a short one. If a poem isn’t right for Antiphon, I can often tell almost immediately, and I’ll let the poet know. Sometimes it’s harder to make a decision. Many poems grow on me with further reading, or need some thinking about. A long wait, then, can mean that the editor is seriously mulling over your work.
On the other hand, according to Submittable, my 91 day wait poems are still at the ‘Received’ stage, not even ‘In progress’. This doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t been read – it depends how the journal uses the submission manager. But it probably does mean they are swamped with submissions, and have a large backlog. We try to avoid that happening with Antiphon, and let everyone have a response by the time the issue is published, which is every 3-4 months. That seems a fair enough delay.