Monday, June 25, 2007

Next Submission

With the Southern Review's rejection behind me, I'm looking ahead to my next beat down. As I mentioned earlier, Poetry magazine claims that they are reviewing only poets they haven't published before (now through August), so I'm thinking of sending them a batch. I know my chances are low, so I also hope to send a second group out at the same time, perhaps to Beloit Poetry Journal.

In the meantime, I've sent my loyal readers three more drafts to look over and comment on. I'm interested to see their reactions, as the poems are something of a departure from the work I've done in the past.

And in the more immediate meantime, it's Monday, and I'm having trouble getting anything going. It occurred to me earlier that writing poetry is like surfing;* you paddle out into the depths of language and test the incoming swells until you find one that can bring you roaring to shore. Some days the waves are lousy, or you just can't catch them. No surprise that Monday should be one of those days....

* For those keeping track, I have also previously claimed that writing poetry is like painting shadows or making useless pottery. You probably should not pay too much attention to what I say on the matter.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rate the Rejection -- Southern Review

Nothing says 'Welcome home!' quite like a rejection note. After two weeks' absence from my usual AWY schedule (week one: work madness; week two: travel madness), I returned to find a little Dear John letter from the Southern Review waiting for me. Damn. And I thought she loved me 4ever.

Anyhow, here's the heartbreaker:

Rating Summary: I suppose it should come as no surprise that the Southern Review uses nice stationery for its rejections, a certain humid gentility being one of the hallmarks of the fine folks living below the Mason-Dixon line.* Though small (a sixth of a regular sheet of paper) and still somewhat thin, it sports some background color and graphical elements that indicate at least someone thought it would be worthwhile to pay attention to how the thing looks. Since some other journals can't even be bothered to include a rejection slip at all, that small step yields a plus for the Southern Review in my book. Pathetic, isn't it?

The content of the note itself is characteristically vague and polite. Inoffensive, you might say, which is about the best one can hope for from these things. The inclusion of the phrase "finding a home for it elsewhere" strikes me as a risk -- just a touch sappy, as if one's poems were a basket of cuddly kittens -- but there's also a kind of humanity in that line, a recognition that a writer's work deserves care.

As for timing, the Southern Review responded in about six weeks -- reasonably fast for any literary journal, especially in the spring and summer months.

* Also, the Southern Review won first place for Best Journal Design in the 2006 CELJ International Awards Competition, so apparently they have some artsy people on staff or on contract. Nice work, kids.

The Grade: A solid B. All in all a decent rejection that shows the editors have some concern for their submitters. I still maintain that generic rejection slips like this one should contain some human scribbling, even if just the editor's initials, but I realize that's a lot to hope for.

Click here for more about the Rate the Rejection series and links to other rejections I've rated.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

An Off Week Before a Week Off

Lordy. It's been a whirlwind of a week so far, and I've been shamefully unable to hold the line dividing my writing time and my work time. It doesn't help that I'll be out of town all next week (heading to the Pacific Northwest to visit Jen's family and see my sister graduate), a trip that I'm looking forward to but that also requires a lot of advance work on the job side of things. So, apologies for the lack of new posts.

Despite the craziness, I have been able to draft at least a few poems over the last several days. Now it's just a matter of getting them revised and typed up. Before I leave, I hope to get a new batch out to my readers, at the very least.