Is the O Magazine Poetry Call for You?

I know I’m late today.  Rolling blackouts made life interesting around here over the last few days.  I almost thought about waiting until Monday to write again, but this popped up in my in-box.  Another contest that I am uncertain anyone wants to enter.  I thought I’d share it with y’all today instead of after the weekend.

I’m gonna be mean to Oprah.  I know.  It’s sacrilegious for any American writer to be mean to Oprah.  After all, Oprah just has to mention a writer’s name and the person becomes a best seller.  Still, if you write poetry you might want to hold off on submitting your prose to the O Magazine for their poetry-themed April issue.

Not too long ago I wrote about FirstOne Publishing’s horrible contest.  It seems that O Magazine didn’t see the fallout from the above mentioned contest.  Why?  Because everyone was more upset about their rights being stolen than anything else.

Now, I’m not a lawyer, but Rule 5 sounds interesting.  Taken directly from the submission form:

We would like to clarify that notwithstanding the terms and conditions and regarding poetry submissions for the April issue only, by submitting a poem, you grant O, The Oprah Magazine and Harpo the non-exclusive license to publish that work, as set forth in the disclaimer.

So, O Magazine and Harpo get non-exclusive rights to publish your poem?  Great!  O Magazine is widely read, so maybe someone will see your poem and offer you money for a collection of your poems.  Wait, there is more to Rule Five.

Solely for this particular submission, the poem’s author retains ownership of the copyright, and submission does not restrict the poem’s author from submitting the work for publication elsewhere.

Wonderful news!  You can submit your poem elsewhere.  The rules just said you are not restricted from publishing your work wherever you can.  Um, there is more to this rule?  Really?

Harpo shall exclusively own all known or later existing rights to the Submissions worldwide with the unrestricted right to use the Submissions for any purpose in all media now known or hereafter discovered without compensation to the provider of such Submissions.

What the heck?  Okay, O Magazine gets non-exclusive rights to publish your poem, you get to keep the copyright, but Harpo exclusively owns all known and future rights to your poem with unrestricted rights to use the Submission however they want?  You’ve confused me, lawyers for Harpo.  Who owns the rights to the poetry?  The poet or Harpo?  I’m not a lawyer.  I could use some clarification about who actually owns the work in question.

Actually, Rule 4 might cover the question of who owns it.  (Get ready to go “Huh” even louder.)

All Submissions shall become the property of Harpo, may be edited for length, clarity and/or functionality, will not be subject to any obligation of confidentiality, may be shared with and used by the staff of Harpo and any of their affiliated companies or entities and shared with legal authorities if Harpo believes it warranted. Neither Harpo nor any party with whom Harpo shares the Submissions shall be liable for any use or disclosure of any information or Submission that you submit.

Way back when the “All Submissions shall become the property of X” statement was talking about those cute little pieces of paper poets and writers used to send to these contests.  Not the actual work, just the physical paper.  Is that what O Magazine means in this rule?

Edited for length?  Any poet/author can tell you that was a no-brainer.  Editors are always involved in chopping up a perfectly good poem/manuscript.

“(W)ill not be subject to any obligation of confidentiality, may be shared with and used by the staff of Harpo…” and a bunch of other people.  Alright, this is a red flag to me.  This does not sound like these are members of a board that will choose what poems go in the April Magazine.  Why do they need to share my information or Submission with all of these people?

It could just be me, but I am not sure this is a call for Submissions I would answer.  The rules are too confusing for me.  You can read the rules here, and read the call for submissions here.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!  And try to stay warm and safe through the rest of the storm!


4 thoughts on “Is the O Magazine Poetry Call for You?

  1. G’mornin’ Amanda….

    Cold enough for ya? lol….I was astounded by what I read from your post today….really? I mean REALLy?

    I write poems here and there, mainly for my love; If I had seen the submission request, I am sure I would jump on it, well not now my pretties!

    Thanks for the eye-opener!


    • You’re welcome! I just figured a few people would go for this just because Oprah is involved. And this one sounded really fishy.

      Sorry I’m so late on replying. This pregnancy is draining me.

  2. hmmmmm…..yep, odd indeed. Sounds like they couldn’t make up their mind about what they wanted their rules to be, so they thought they’d cover all their bases (and non-bases, just in case). ODD!!!!! DEFINITELY!!!!!

    • Bad, too, because the rules are a contract between the poet and O Magazine. Any lawsuits will be decided based on the rules. IE, why is Harpo making money off my poem? They are infringing on my rights. And you go to court only to find out that yes, you had the right to submit your poem to another magazine or publish it in your own anthology, but Harpo gets the money.

      The sad thing is tons of poets will enter because Oprah is involved, so it can’t be bad.

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