I have heard some chatter about how the Muzzle editorial process works. I never intended for the process to be elusive to our readers, and I would like to break it down as best I can.
1) I personally read every single poem that is submitted to Muzzle. For this past issue, I had the distinct pleasure of reading a little shy of 800 poems. I sift through the poems and choose the 10-20% that are my favorites. Submissions that ignore our guidelines and/or contain numerous typos and grammatical errors generally do not make it into that batch.
2) I periodically (usually every other week) send batches of my favorite poems to our fabulous team of assistant poetry editors for review. When I send the poems out to the other editors, they are completely anonymous. I create an electronic form using Google that each of the editors has access to. For each poem, each editor gives their vote (yes, no, maybe, or other) and provides careful feedback on why they made their choice.
3) All the information gathered by the form is channeled into a nifty spreadsheet. When making the final cuts, I meticulously consider all of the feedback given on each poem. Ultimately, I do have the final say on everything, but I have no intention of going rogue with that responsibility; I greatly respect the opinions of the other editors.
*Occasionally, multiple editors will love the core of a piece but voice similar concerns (perhaps a clunky line, a need for cutting, or a problem with the form), and I will give a poet the option of a re-write. This only happens with a couple poems each issue.
*If submissions continue to grow at as high of a rate as they are currently growing, I may eventually move to create a General Staff that divvies up the reading of the initial submissions.