The Five Two

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by Gerald So

Each Monday, I post the Five-Two Poem of the Week, an original poem in text and audio/video. I reprint each year's total fifty-two poems in annual ebooks.

Submissions always open: Honest, powerful reactions to what you see as crime. 60 lines or fewer per poem. Open to any form or style, including free verse and prose poem. Open to any tone (dark, light, serious, humorous) that rings true.

The Five-Two's purpose is to bear witness to current and historical crime poetically, so the feeling behind the poem reaches countless readers, mirroring the tragic impact of any crime. With a new sense of this impact, may we go forward working peacefully to prevent crime.

Original, unpublished work only. No simultaneous submissions. No work that has appeared anywhere in print or online—including personal blogs, critique groups, message boards, and anything similar.

Before submitting, you may want to read some archived poems, writing advice posts, this Q&A, or this 2019 interview.

Submit to, subject Five-Two Poetry: Title(s) of your poem(s).

In the message body, include a bio for publication and the legal statement:

I certify that I am the author of this unpublished work. If accepted, I grant Gerald So first worldwide rights to publish it on the Five-Two website and nonexclusive worldwide electronic reprint rights to include it in the applicable Five-Two ebook.

Paste poem(s) into the message body or attach as a Word .doc.

If I take longer than four weeks to respond, you're free to remind me or to withdraw your submission.

Upon acceptance, I ask for a .jpg photo and "signed confession"—up to fifty words about what inspired your poem. I also ask for an audio/video recording; you may make your own file, record on my dedicated voicemail, or let a Five-Two performer record for you.

I seek the right to publish your poem for the first time anywhere and nonexclusive worldwide electronic reprint rights toward ebook collections of each year's poems and confessions. I offer you a free copy of the ebook featuring your poem(s).

I archive poems on the site, but after the week of first publication, you may submit your poem elsewhere for reprint consideration or ask me to remove it from the site. If your poem is reprinted elsewhere, I'd appreciate an acknowledgment that it first appeared at The Five-Two.

The Five-Two Twitter account, @CriPoWkly, mentions each poem during its week of publication, recaps the five latest Poems of the Week with the Tuesday feature #FiveTwosday, and retweets Five-Two alumni.


There are many ways to be a part of The Five-Two besides submitting poetry. Getting involved and spreading the word widens our audience naturally:

  • Volunteer to record Five-Two Poems of the Week for poets unable to do so. Contact me. You can make your own audio/video files or call my dedicated voicemail.

  • Guest-edit The Five-Two. Contact me at least two months in advance of the week you would like your chosen poem to run. This gives me time to announce you, and poets time to prepare their work.

    Sample guest-editing timeframe: Say you would like to choose the poem for the week of June 2, 2014. You would let me know of your interest by April 2. I would announce your guest spot on the site, setting a submission deadline of April 30. On May 1, I would send you one document of all the submissions received. You would have up to May 14 to choose one poem to be published. I would notify the poets of your choice and, finally, post your chosen poem on June 2.

    Along with the poet's signed confession, I'd include your "ruling" as guest editor—up to fifty words about why you chose the poem for publication.

  • Write about Five-Two poems whenever you like. Contact me with a Web link to your writeup or send the text itself to be posted here.

  • Share news and guest posts relevant to Five-Two readers. Contact me with the details, and your post may appear Tuesday-Sunday.


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