Of Poetry

Just got the nicest rejection ever today. Wish they were all that way. Had a nasty one a while back in which the editor told me she hated trimeter. Of course, the consolation there is that the publication obviously is run along the lines of personal opinion. The nice rejection came with the editors expression of regret, and it was convincing. One needs that from time to time. I have four rejections in my inbox to note and turn around on.

It is consoling to read Robert Graves, for example, talking about how some of his poems never sold. He was a minor poet; minor, but recognized. Still, it happens. And when you see the complete poems including some never before published, well you have to wonder if it was for lack of trying.

It is a thing of persevering. There are so many people trying. And actually the way is an interesting one for what you learn and see. I have been a reader of poetry since it was presented me as something worthwhile in high school. My literature teacher got me started in 12th grade with T.S. Eliot. But I never quite got poetry the way I have since I started trying to do it myself.

Eliot’s letters are being published, by the way, and I understand they’re working on the complete poems (finally!). That’s rich reading. His was a life of persevering, poor chap. As well as Blake’s. Blake lived a tough life indeed. And Blake did watercolors too.

So I’ve made 25 submissions in the poetry department this year. Had 19 rejections, waiting on four and the remaining two had a bite of one poem each. Usually one can send up to five poems in a submission–I guess I average three. It was cheering because I haven’t had a poem accepted since 2008. One thing the rejection does is make you go back and make sure you only send worthwhile poetry.

Beyond poetry, in stories I’ve had 4 accepted this year, which is pretty good for me. I’ve submitted 45 times and am waiting to hear back on 7 still. The good news is, I’m still writing more than I get rid of and they’re getting better. Maybe I’ll be able to get up to six this year and keep increasing the next. (Side benefit: nowadays I can run the spell checker and from time to time get the notice that there were no spelling errors. That is progress indeed!)

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