Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Another issue of TOWER Poetry (Volume 57, Number 2) is set and in the process pf being readied for the printer. The poems have been chosen or rejected and the authors should soon receive their notification. The Agony and the Exstacy will not be a very public matter. I remember my earliest rejection slips; I never wanted to talk about them, just seethed under a seeming calm exterior. And the acceptance notices? Inwardly I leaped with joy and shouted with glee, but the outward demeanor was strictly Joe Cool. Hah!

The problem is that a writer will never really know why his work was rejected; he has to accept the platitudes handed out by the editor. There can be so many, and most are a combination of one or more that even the editor might find difficult to explain.

The best reason to reject work is because it's awful, plain and simple garbage. How do you let a writer know without killing his creativity or bringing curses and fatwahs upon your own head? You tell lies - little ones, big ones, whatever it takes.

A second good reason is that the work is sloppy. The underlying idea may be sound but no work has been put into presentation, no attention to details (of language, grammar), no structure or flow. Sometimes an editor feels like saying "Take this back and do some work on it" but he can't be everybody's critic. A writer, a poet, must be able to see for himself.

A third reason is that the work does not fit the parameters of the place it was submitted to. Don't send your poetry just anywhere that accepts poetry for publication. If you send a three hundred line tragic epic to a magazine that publishes mainly pastoral love poems you are asking for rejection. Research your market; send what seems to you to suit. You may catch an editor's eye.

Another reason is more illusive to explain. The poem is good. It suits the general mood of the issue. Yet there may be a little something that goes against the grain, the common flow. If something such as this was apparent in another submission, a sort of support piece, it might pull at an editors attention rather than be passed over. Passed over for no real reason except that it didn't grab.

So, a bit on rejection. The thing is, acceptance works the same way, for almost the same reasons. You never can tell.

"C'est la vie," say the old folks.

1 comment:

annaken said...

Good Morning Jefferson,

Glad that the work on the TPS book is done, now you can relax for a little while. I read with interest your comments on rejection/acceptance.

I must say I had a good laugh about "Joe Cool".

As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is acceptance and rejection, don't you think? What one person likes, another person may not!

I do have one comment about sending material out, especially to TPS for inclusion. Unless the poet knows what the editor wants, how can they write a poem to meet the criteria????

It was easy to write something for the Dundas Art Work as one had a picture to write about. In a book like Tower's publication, would it not be a good idea for the editor to suggest themes so poets can have a good picture of what is wanted?

I do agree about not sending work to a firm who deals in one subject (mystery for example) and sending them a love poem. It does not fit their criteria and thus, one is setting oneself up for rejection.

It is an interesting subject which affects all writers and poets.

Keep up the good work Jefferson!