Well, the inevitable came quick and to be honest I wasn’t not expecting it, but to anyone in the know, I received my first writing rejection letter 😦
Not that this really upset me. To be honest, I have never been much interested in getting published. It’s bad to say but I kinda hate the modern publishing industry with its emphasis on “Showing, not telling!”
It boggles my mind that no matter how much you write it’s never good enough. And yet, I’m also not naive and going to expect to get published on my first go around.
The letter wasn’t much. It was actually polite and kinda made me feel better and really left me wanting to submit more knowing I could handle the rejection. I’ve included a screenshot below.
As you can see, it was submitted to Poetry Breakfast, a WordPress poetry site that’s currently looking for submissions.
I attached roughly 5 poems and was really not looking forward to hearing their response but was anticipating the rejection. Which is why I’m happy.
Quantity is Quality
The key to success, or so I’m told from other professional writers, is getting the practice in early and taking the rejection well. So the very idea of getting rejected in the first place is a big deal for me.
Essentially, it means I took the first step to getting published. And while that is a road I never really was interested in going down, as of late I’ve been considering the idea of having more than just a blog to my name kind of enticing.
Not to say blogs aren’t bad by the way!
In fact, I think all the best poetry out there can be found in the WordPress community and in a way I’m proud of that.
In an age when everyone is looking for acceptance and waiting to get lucky and get discovered (as if God had nothing to do with our success…), it’s quite appealing to find that we can publish our own work without frowns and “suggestions” from untalented editors and magazine publishers.
Not to say the modern poetry industry is flawed and full of hacks, but ahem, I’ll be nice. I’ve written enough poems expressing my frustration with that beast.
Going Back to My Roots
To be honest, the biggest hurdle I see in going forward and trying to get published is my inability conform to what I see as a current trend in poetry in 2017. Which is honestly, garbage in my opinion.
I enjoy romanticism and what the industry calls “easy rhymes”, sometimes belittled by modern poets as doggerel and kid stuff. Which is kind of insulting to a lot of poets that were fare more talented and skilled with their pens?
To me, poetry is about language and less about showing! showing! showing!
But having sat in professional poetry workshops and studied the art form in college, all I find is an insistence on what I like to call verbal diarrhea.
Which is basically poems that are made up of rants and run on prose broken into lines that often make no logical sense in their cuts. If all it takes to be a poet in this day and age is broken up sentences and big words found in thesauruses then I guess I want no part of that industry.
I look to the past and see poets such as Emily Dickinson and guys like Thomas Hardy and see beauty in their vernacular prowess but more, ability to express the mystery and sensation that is the heart of the form contained within 4 stanzas or less.
They didn’t need to write 4-page poems that had no sense of rhythm or even dialect or anything resembling a musical quality to express a mood or regret.
Take, for instance, a poem called “Neutral Tones” by Mr. Hardy. It’s expression of sorrow and frustration over a former romance and is easily and concisely captured in a few stanzas. It isn’t full of pretension and biographies listing all of his professional publications.
Fuck you, right?
I say that with a lot of scorn knowing I’m essentially looking for own little resume to attach to my submission letters and yet there’s no other way to put it.
I feel modern poets, and by that term I mean the giants of the industry, have gotten where they’re at more from networking and college than they did from actual skill.
And no, I’m shitting on MFA programs but I have to laugh at a number of poets who think they have something to say when they have never lived a life or wrote a poem that has moved me to tears and driven me to seek more of their workout.
But damn, the ink does look good against the white page, and they do like to stand at podiums and drone on about their work. And complain that no one reads poetry anymore, which is utter garbage. Just look at our poetry sites for proof.
But I digress.
The truth is, I’m going to keep seeking approval from these boring overlords because the time is now hitting me that if I ever want to be taken with any semblance of seriousness, I have to show that I can get published in a professional publication and find approval in an industry I kinda self-loathe. And I guess that makes me a sellout and a hypocrite, to which I would say, yes and yes.
As always, God bless and may your pen keep flowing!