Black Lawrence Press

Poetry Consultations with Lisa Fay Coutley

During the month of October, Black Lawrence Press poets Claudia Cortese, Lisa Fay Coutley, and Charlotte Pence are on board to critique poetry. They are accepting individual poems, folios, chapbooks, and full-length collections. The fees and parameters for page lengths for each of these categories is as follows:

  • Individual poems, up to two pages in length, $10
  • Folios, up to 7 pages in length, not to include more than five poems, $30
  • Chapbooks, 16-40 pages in length, $150
  • Full-length collections, 45-80 pages in length, $250

All manuscripts should be formatted in twelve point font.

The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is October 31. The consultants will complete their work and respond to all participants by November 30.

Space in this program is limited, so please be sure to submit your work soon!

Note:Please do not send manuscripts that promote hate speech, are intended to harass or bully a specific person or group of persons, or include glorified sexual violence.

Click Here to Submit

Statement of Purpose

In an ideal workshop, an editor would meet a poem/collection nowhere but on its own terms, though if we’re honest with ourselves we must admit that we each bring our own aesthetics and experiences into any reading and interpretation. My best readers are those who attempt not to mold my poems but to react with a thoughtful and well-articulated gut response, giving an exegesis of the language, lines, syntax, form and content, and the tensions and patterns therein. That is what I can promise you.

I will read and respond to individual poems one poem at a time, first by typing how I experience the poem upon an initial reading, and then I will compose a more careful critique with subsequent readings. I will respond to collections by making comments on individual poems throughout and at the end by typing how I experience the manuscript (noting its obsessions, form, style, technique, as well as its images, line breaks, sonic qualities, etc.). I will read your poems as individual entities while also noting commonalities in form and subject among the batch/collection. I will give a fair amount of feedback, but if you’d prefer that I give more pointed comments, I can do that as well.

It’s not always the most trained reader who gives the best feedback but the one who learns to listen to the poems and sit with them a while. Outside eyes often notice obsessions we aren’t even aware of—themes and images we can’t seem to stop circling—and I will do my best to sit with your poems and listen to them—to understand their gestures and rhetoric, to find their sturdiest and softest spots, and to learn them on their own terms.

All of that I say as an editor. As a reader, my aesthetic calls me toward poems that are willing to make the best use of their form in order to enact their content. I am intrigued by lyrical, raw poems that demonstrate a willingness to observe subject matter without flinching. I am likely to nudge your poems in a direction in which they do their best to be their bravest yet most vulnerable selves.

I look forward to reading and responding to your words.

All Best,

Lisa Fay

By Lisa Fay Coutley

Black Lawrence Press accepts submissions and payment of the entry fee exclusively through our online submission manager, Submittable. We are not able to accept submissions via email or postal mail.

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Upcoming Consultations

November — NaNoWriMo! We’ll have a great crew of experienced fiction writers on hand to critique your-in progress novel.


Lisa Fay Coutley

Lisa Fay Coutley is the author of Errata (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition, and In the Carnival of Breathing (Black Lawrence Press, 2011), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition. Her poems have been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Sewanee Writer’s Conference, a scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and an Academy of American Poets Levis Prize. Poetry and prose publications include Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, Kenyon Review, Crazyhorse, & Poets & Writers. Her writing has been anthologized in Best New Poets & Best of the Net among many others. She has edited poetry for Passages North, Quarterly West, and Linebreak, and has taught at the University of Oregon, University of Utah, and Northern Michigan University. She is an Assistant Professor of Poetry in the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Coutley © Randy Mattley Author page