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.


Anonymous said...

I would give this one a D. You're right a scribble means so much. What if that Southern Review editor becomes famous and your embellished rejection can be sold on EBAY.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm on the staff of the Southern Review and I just wanted to announce that we have a new editor, Jeanne Leiby, who has just published a book called Downriver. I would recommend that anyone interested in publishing in the Southern Review get ahold of her book, as well as upcoming issues of the magazine, for fun as well as to look for cues as to what we might be interested in. Thanks for reading and good luck in writing!

-Susan Kirby-Smith

Anonymous said...

Jeanne Leiby is notorious for trading favors. When she was on the Florida Arts Council she did it, and when she edited the Florida Review, she did it. So I wouldn't count on her giving anyone a fair read unless you're able to offer quid pro quo--or you're her crony.

Susan Kirby-Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Kirby-Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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