Last week the Age knocked back a couple of my poems: “Response”, a perhaps-a-little-obvious poem about artistic responses to terrorism, and “Second Comes Right After First”, the poem I wrote (but didn’t perform) for the Victorian final of the 2011 Australian Poetry Slam.
Their rejection was simple, polite and quite quick, which is always appreciated. It came in the form of a typed letter with a hand-correction of the words “it has not” to “they have not” in reference to the multiple submission. Given how short the letter was, I was curious as to why the edit was made in pen after printing, instead of simply changing the pronoun on-screen before printing. Maybe Gig Ryan has a large stack of pre-printed rejections tucked away somewhere, and she chose the environmentally responsible option of not using another sheet of paper for such a minor consideration? We may never know.
Upon reflection “Response” might be a bit too sarcastic and a little bit of a one-note poem. I thought it was funny, but that’s not really an indication of anything. “Second” may also be one of those poems that suited its initial context, but which may never really engender a favourable response outside of that context. I’m not sure whether I’ll retire it or continue to send it out. I’m not going to edit it – it is what it is. Getting it published will be all about finding a sympathetic ear.
In addition to the above no-thankses, the Peter Porter Poetry Prize did not, in their ineffable wisdom, shortlist “After the Beep”. Their letter confirming as much was a little coy. It said, “This is just to let you know that the shortlisted poets have now been notified – in case you wish to place your poem(s) elsewhere.” A little indirect, I thought, almost as though they didn’t actually want to say anything like “we didn’t pick you”, preferring rejection by omission. The shortlisted poets have been contacted. You haven’t been contacted? Oh – well, then. Draw your own conclusions, I suppose.
Also – veiled William Carlos Williams reference? Or am I reaching?
I kid because I love. Onwards and upwards with this poetry lark, methinks. Some new poems have been written since we last discussed rejection, and there are yet others out there awaiting validation in one form or another. The game, as they seldom actually say, is still very much afoot.