Tilt-a-Whirl: Mission and Submission

The Tilt-a-Whirl is a platform-type ride, consisting of 7 freely-spinning cars which are attached at fixed pivot points on a rotating platform. As the platform revolves, parts of the platform are raised and lowered, and the resulting centrifugal and gravitational forces on the cars cause them to spin in different directions and at variable speeds. The weight of passengers in these cars may intensify or dampen the spinning motion of the cars, adding to the unpredictable nature of the motion.

Getting on Board

The Bronx, my home town, is famous—or infamous—for many things: its slum areas (which are greatly improved since Paul Newman fended off thugs in “Fort Apache” in 1981), its expressways, high house insurance rates, The Yankees, the Zoo—none of which epitomize my experience of the place. Growing up, I lived on a leafy street of modest homes with swing sets and barbecues in their backyards. Just three blocks from my house was a little amusement park called Funland and there I first experienced that iconic American ride called the Tilt-a-Whirl.

My big sister had let me accompany her and a boyfriend. Indeed we tilted, indeed we whirled, and at random moments, when we were slammed into the seatback and tingles shot through our tummies, my sister squealed with laughter and, contagiously, I followed suit. This was release, a loosening, a letting go. This was a date! That night I was caught up in more than centrifugal forces.

I did not grow up into a thrill-seeking individual. Not for me the the mountain scaler’s quest or the hang glider’s surrender. I’ve found my thrill in poetry.

Surely some of the most thrilling types of poems are those written in repeating forms. Poems which rely on the repetition of words or lines have a rhythm not unlike that of a Tilt-a-Whirl ride; they have a slithery quality and keep coming around and coming around. When written well, there is a strangeness in the sameness. Each repetend provides a different slant and tingles anew. These poems possess a momentum of within-ness. Many such poems begin as they end; the reader has been taken for a ride, ended in the same place, and yet been changed by the experience. These poems take your breath away!

Welcome to Tilt-a-Whirl, an exhilarating compendium of poetry written in repeating forms.


See the Cheat Sheet for the type of poems we publish, paying particular attention to the fact that we are only seeking poems which use repetitions and refrains; we have been receiving a lot of sonnets and other types of  formal poems that are not within our purview. Send submissions in the body of an email (no attachments) to umbrellajournal at gmail dot com. Please categorize each poem submitted (sestina, rondeau, etc.); just type the name of the form before the poem itself.  Do include a short bio written in the third person. We welcome both unpublished poems and those which have appeared in print (but not online), provided the poet retains the rights, which is usually the case. Cover letters welcome.  We are also happy to consider prose essays on the topic of repeating form poetry, its practice and appreciation. There is no deadline; we read on an ongoing basis.  Please be aware, though, that your editor will need to postpone the reading of subs for the Tilt when an issue of Umbrella or Bumbershoot is close to publication; this simply means that response time may be slower if you submit in the months of July, October or April.

Tilt-a-Whirl is the sister publication of Umbrella Journal and shares its asethetic for idea-based poems of focus and insight written in fresh, nongeneric diction.  A study of Umbrella’s guidelines is recommended and please pay particular attention to a certain aversion of ours dubbed syntactical arrest.   Lest it not be obvious, a key mission of the Tilt is to publish poems that breathe new life into traditional forms, so if  a poem strikes us as Victorian, flowery, sentimental or trope-laden, it is not likely to make the cut. Admission is free but we are unable to provide payment.

Tilt-a-Whirl is a “sporadical” which publishes on a non-scheduled basis. It will be archived not by issue but rather by poetic form; it is intended as a resource for the study and enjoyment of repeating form poetry.

Kate Bernadette Benedict, Editor and Publisher

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