Style Guide

Bareknuckle Poet Journal of Letters Style Guide

The English language, both phoneme and grapheme, spoken and written by fuck-knows how many people in the past 600 years since Chaucer made it popular (“Chaucers English,” 2018) has sedimented in ways which annoy the Jesus out of the editors at Bareknuckle Poet.

The below represents (an ongoing) list of our editorial quirks. By adopting these as a rudimentary style guide you’ll save us time editing your work for publication and with extra time on our hands we get to fulfil ‘society at larges’ expectation of poets as ne’er do wells and wastrels.

The Possessive Apostrophe

Did you notice that? Society at larges? Reads a little weird because we have been conditioned to add a possessive apostrophe. The conditioning results from an unchecked human obsession with ownership. As Bill Hicks said: when someone comes along and reminds us life is just a ride (Hicks, 2015) and you don’t really own shit, we kill them. We’re done with the possessive apostrophe, it’s a fucking mess. The style guides and grammar fascists (since Chaucer) all nine-iron home that TPA is important.

Wikipedia gives an example why: (“The Apostrophe,” 2018)

  • my sister’s friend’s investments (I have one sister and she has one friend.)
  • my sisters’ friends’ investments (I have many sisters and they have many friends.)
  • my sisters’ friend’s investments (I have many sisters and they have one friend.)
  • my sister’s friends’ investments (I have one sister and she has many friends.)

If we ditch it entirely:

  • my sisters friends investments (I as the reader don’t give a fuck how many sisters you have or friends your sister has and there is no more fly shit all over the sentence; and to think I believed the real subject in the example sentence is investments, not the speakers sisters friends).

In the majority of cases we’re going to delete your possessives. If you have written a sentence where redacting TPA causes your reader to fall into the uncanny valley (which could be interesting!) and they may as well be reading the Rosetta stone on the toilet, then keep it, otherwise do it for us, back-space it. (See above, we’re Gen X, soaked in grunge malaise).

The Copula

The ed-in-chief of Bareknuckle Poet wandered into the ontological abyss with an obsession of killing the copula entirely. He spent about twenty years writing and researching English Prime before he got the vagina to spend another five years writing a 40,000 word PhD thesis on the subject (Frazer, 2017b) and also demonstrating the theory in practice with a 90,000 word work of creative non-fiction (Frazer, 2017a). As he explains in a peer reviewed academic paper on the subject (Frazer, 2016), ditching the copula requires a complete overhaul of not only how you write, but how you think. We don’t expect you will go so far and get yourself accused by academics of evangelicalism on the subject, but if you take a little care to not misuse the copula (are, am, is, was, were, be, been, being + contractions) and cut down on your addiction to these semantic spooks (go on, describe Being, genius) you’ll find yourself writing dynamic text. A simple example:

She was beautiful.

Was can only ever represent the past participle of is. If you write that she was beautiful this implies that she no longer is beautiful and I as your reader will assume the worst, a car crash or an acid attack in London. In most cases this is simple misuse and outright fucken-lazy writing, but don’t fret 99% of English language speakers/writers do it. If you do decide you want to be a writer use your language more effectively + use your imagination and then do writing with it, give us at least a simile to describe her beauty. As your reader, (well you did send us your work) when you take shortcuts like this, choosing to dispense metaphor and sensoria, your assumption that everyone shares the same understanding of your aesthetics and without question accepts your godlike proclamation of beauty, gives us the shits.

You can use was effectively if you use it to evoke awe/wonder for the subject in a past context and then chip it right into the hole with a concrete image and a simile all in one:

The static hum of a hundred ugly people at the party, and then she walked into the room. She was beautiful. The Townley Venus disrobing in a den of ogres.

Formatting Matters

When a submission is accepted, has done the rounds of our editorial team, and is ready for publication we embed either a .pdf or .doc of the text. We do this: a) to preserve individual words on the page idiosyncrasies, and b) because fuck the WordPress platform when it comes to formatting poetry and paragraph breaks.

Please ensure on submission that your text (particularly poetry) has the exact format/appearance you want reproduced on publication. We add our ISSN and journal title into the header of the document and copyright information into the footer.

  • Do use Times New Roman 12pt for your body text and Times New Roman 14pt for your titles
  • Don’t use fancy fonts unless you poem is a concrete/visual poem in which typography is a necessary feature. If you use a crazy font then embed the concrete/visual poem as an image into your document.

Submit your document with the following page set up:

Subject Matters/Swears/Censorship

Old Bill wrote: there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so, (Shakespeare, 1599) and Bareknuckle Poet reckons he quilled some real capital-t Truth that night, wrecked on absinthe probably. We don’t believe there is such a thing as a bad word. A lack of the contemporary vernacular deemed profane by people you see waving placards reading repent arouses our suspicion about how much time the writer has spent warring with Language. Serious writers, and by serious we mean those who were either born with the condition or somehow acquired the injury, go to battle with the insidious despot emperor of Language Acquisition who slumps on the throne of your conquered consciousness like Jabba the Hutt. He has a thousand syntactic Leias chained to his corpulence, your syntactic Leias, resplendent and aching to break free of inherited conditioning. You so much as open your mouth and utter a grunt the rest of us have learned to understand since birth, and the emperor hears your challenge. You dare pick up a pen or sit down at your retina display typewriter, and entire armies led by the generals Phoneme and Grapheme will come at you like Andrea Dworkin armed with cannons and bear traps. Words are slippery, Jedi is plural.

Henry Miller braved numerous battles, single-handed he fought the choke-hold of the censors. These censors work exclusively in the interest of those among us who harbour aristocratic pretensions, humans who truly believe they know what’s best for the plebeian rabble. Censors are in the business of semiotic hygiene, bleaching symbolic meaning out of our neural hallways with concentrated industrial strength outrage. How dare a writer use profane quotidian expletives and then dare claim it’s literature. How very . . . common. Our precious literature canon! God (the Queen or Jabba) will not approve! This is the reason the Shakespeare conspiracy exists. Our sacred guardians refuse to accept that genius can come from the gutter; old Bill simply must’ve been a fucking lord or something, hell, at least in the employ of the ‘royals’. The cleaners are very effective at what they do, scrubbing etymological stains and forbidden symbolism out of our grunts, at least an infinity more effective than The Wolf from Pulp Fiction. Do you live in a democracy? You’ve swallowed their bullshit and you Oliver Twist at their tables. All the citizens of Australia feel included and proud when the PM ‘allows’ the plebiscite a referendum. How wonderful! What will we commoners decree!

Henry lost the war. Read Miller today and his unbridled pubic hair tearing and insistence on calling female humans cunts shocks and offends no more than an episode of Peppa Pig. It was outré in Paris, 1934, shocking to the courtrooms in the U. S in 1961 and in 2018 it’s, well . . . kinda gross really. But that’s not the point. The point is Henry won that battle against the censor and managed to break a couple fingers in the choke-hold the censor has on publishers (realistically he managed to sprain the pinky tip of one of the thousand who transgress on rape our psyche (a shout-out to Andrea. We love you).

Concerning censorship, you now know our position. We don’t believe in censorship in any form for any reason for any purpose, period, full-fucking-stop. However, remember context. Write about what you please, call whoever whatever for why-ever, believe what you want, when you want; have your characters do what they want to other characters, and to the readers, but if your context is out-of-kilter, if your politics masquerades as poetry, if you have a character who believes their own ancestry superior and the only behaviour that demonstrates this is their use of racial slurs, then you need to think about giving up writing and joining a gang instead, leather jackets or Armani suits, your choice, we give zero fucks, or we gave, until your ilk made us work for the dole; now we’ll never publish your poems . . . you’ve been outed, Young Liberal.

Academic Paper Formatting, etc., etc.

Notice how we’ve cited the christ out of wikipedia in this style guide. Academics, the ones with property portfolios, they don’t like it when you cite Wikipedia. Here at Bareknuckle Poet we’re not convinced the academy has any clue exactly how stringent wikipedia editors are when it comes to approving the composition of a wiki entry. Like any classic encyclopaedia the information about any given subject is governed by very serious rules that ensure neutrality. A Wikipedia article must contain a neutral point of view, involve no original research, every breadcrumb of knowledge on the subject must be cited up the wazoo, and if so much a waft of personal opinion perfumes the information they slap a spam label on the entry so quick Quick Draw McGraw gets shot before he even realises he’s in a gun fight.

This is not the reason we choose to cite Wikipedia. This is an online journal. Navigation and visibility in Chappells shopping mall from hell is dominated by Google and Google defaults to Wikipedia, for the above reason, stringent editorial neutrality by humans. That being said, if you are an academic or an aspiring academic you probably won’t have cited Wikipedia to support your argument . . . you’d have cheated like all academics do and cited the citations from the wiki entry after you’ve followed the link and put the bibliographic information into ‘cite-this-for-me’ and copy-pasted into your reference list. This is what we expect, this is probably what we’ll get.

We aren’t so dictatorial. Technically everything we publish at Bareknuckle Poet is grey literature as we publish based on creative value, not commercial value. To clarify this terminology, in the context of what we are interested in publishing, other terms used for grey lit include: report literature, fugitive literature, nonconventional literature, unpublished literature, non-traditional publications, ephemeral publications, online resources, open-access research, digital documents and works in progress. If you submit us an interesting essay outlining some crazy radical overhaul of whatever and you cite Wikipedia, we don’t give a damn. If however, your article is a finished, fully realised academic paper (you hope) and you want your research referenced in turn by a future researcher/student, you probably shouldn’t raw cite Wikipedia.


Chaucers English. (2018, April 6). Retrieved April 6, 2018, from
Frazer, B. (2016). Beyond Is: Creative Writing with English Prime. Text Journal, 20(01). Retrieved from
Frazer, B. (2017a, March 1). Scoundrel Days: A Memoir. Retrieved April 7, 2018, from
Frazer, B. (2017b, December 18). Scoundrel Days Writing Rebellion. Retrieved April 7, 2018, from
Hicks, B. (2015, May 15). Bill Hicks – It’s Just A Ride. Retrieved April 7, 2018, from
Shakespeare, O. B. (1599, January 1). Hamlet. Retrieved April 7, 2018, from
The Apostrophe. (2018, April 6). Retrieved April 6, 2018, from