poetry, rejected, the writing process

Rejected: My kids, my wife, my bald head, summer, pizza, earthlings, window-cleaners…

Time for the latest tally of rejection!

Overland finally got around to knocking back the other two poems that I hadn’t heard from them about, so I sent them two more (“Again!” and “Forty Dollars”) for consideration and they knocked them back too – quite quickly this time, only taking four days to pass on them. Which is efficient, if not especially encouraging.

Southerly also knocked back four poems (“Again!”, “Forty Dollars”, “The Big Four Zero”, “This Morning as you Lay on Your Back I Saw”), but the email they sent me was all about how they’d recieved so much short fiction lately, which makes me think they sent me the wrong form rejection letter, which further makes me wonder if I should get all pedantic and confirm that their poetry editor also didn’t want the poems. Probably not.

Finally, Island replied to my query about my August submission (“Thursday Morning”, “The Faint Red Impression”) by telling me that they no longer reply to rejected submissions, only accepted ones, so if I hadn’t heard in three months then I should just assume I’d been rejected. They didn’t reply to my follow-up email asking how strict they were with their 3-months-and-you’re-out rule (e.g. if I submit on 16 August do I have until 16 November, or should I allow until the end of November before assuming it’s a no-go?). Which is probably for the best.

This slightly confounding approach to rejection was clarified a little when I submitted three short stories to them this morning and got a letter of receipt explaining that it’s only POETRY that doesn’t get a reply if it’s rejected. Probably because of the higher volume of poetry that they receive, but still, it seems kinda rude to poets (quiet, you).

So, for those keeping score at home here’s the current state of play for the poems mentioned above:

  • Again!4 rejections – I think this is a nice, light-hearted, sweet little poem but it’s hard to find poetry journals who are interested in publishing light verse these days, so I’m not sure what I’m gonna do with it right now.
  • Forty Dollars4 rejections – ditto.
  • Commensurate with Skill4 rejections – I reckon this one is due for a revision. I noticed an ambiguity in it the last time I read it in front of an audience, and I think I know how to fix that.
  • The Big Four Zero3 rejections (4 if you count a poetry comp I didn’t win with it last year) – Happy with this at the moment, so it’s gone back out into the world of submissions and is currently sitting with Westerly.
  • Accidental Earthlings3 rejections – This one needs a revision too, I think. I suspect it’s not making its point very strongly. I’ve got some ideas about how to make the conceit a little clearer, though.
  • The Faint Red Impression3 rejections – I think this one’s fine too, just a matter of finding a home that suits its temperament. I’m thinking of sending it out to Southerly.
  • Thursday Morning2 rejections – Happy with this one too – also thinking of sending out to Southerly.
  • This Morning as You Lay on Your Back I Saw2 rejections – I think this one needs some work too. Not sure what at the moment, but I’ll have a play and see what comes of it.

That works out to a total of 25 (or 26 if you count the poetry comp) rejections for 8 poems, an average of 3.125 (or 3.25) rejections per poem.

I have other poems and stories out there in the wild at the moment, searching for homes in many and varied places, so I’ll keep you posted on how they fare. You know, just in case you’re interested.

7 thoughts on “Rejected: My kids, my wife, my bald head, summer, pizza, earthlings, window-cleaners…”

  1. ‘they no longer reply to rejected submissions, only accepted ones . . .’

    that’s bullshit. everyone has an email address, & a polite group form letter takes no time at all. i won’t send them anything.

    1. Yeah it’s a little confounding, I must admit.

      I contemplated replying to them with some suggestions about how they might manage the workload of poetry rejection, and perhaps also pointing out how such an approach could be taken as an affront to the poets who take the time to write and submit work for them, but I couldn’t work out a way to do it that didn’t come across as just me being some random arrogant poet who was pissed off that they didn’t want to publish me.

      So I blogged about it instead. :-P

      1. Poor form re: the non-reply – and it’s a trend that’s been on the rise for what, ten years? With more than a few publications. Or am I exaggerating?

        I like this idea, Adam – I think I should do something similar. It’s fascinating – and not just because I’ve had similar, very similar stories, but there’s something defiant about posting on this too.

  2. Thanks, Ashley. I don’t intend it as defiant per se, but it’s cool that it comes across that way.. It started when I noticed that I and others only tended to talk about the stuff they got published, not the stuff that was rejected, so it was a way to kind of keep myself honest, and now it also helps in that “thinking out loud” way in my determination whether to pursue or retire a particular unpublished poem.

    1. I know what you mean, I’ve noted that tendency myself too. I like the candor of this and I think I’ll have to follow suit.
      And the thinking aloud is a good product of this sort of post too, I don’t do that enough.

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