GDS subs are open now, here’s some info:
Inspired by Adam Ford’s witty and honest posts on rejection (see one here), I thought I’d try something similar now (though I’ll combine brief stories of both acceptance and rejection for today). I think what I like best about Adam’s posts is the ‘thinking out loud’ (critically) aspect of the posts, that and the transparency re: the submission process.
But, starting with some great news, in the near future I’ve poems forthcoming in Wet Ink, fourW, Famous Reporter and Best Australian Poems 2012. The news is especially exciting for me because I’ve never had work placed in three of the publications, and there’s a thrill that always comes from that, in addition to the thrill of an acceptance. I’m also really excited to join a long list of fantastic poets in the BAP series!
Equally pleasing is the news that the piece accepted for Famous Reporter is available to read now – a recent piece based around a moment that struck me in Pompeii. Have a look here if you get the chance.
Most rejections are, if I’m in a good mood, opportunities. They always sting but soon enough I see it as a chance to either rework and resend the piece, or to retire it. Which brings me to a question that I’ve struggled to answer sometimes, how do we know when it’s time to retire a poem? When has it done too many trips, been knocked down too often, how do I know it’s just no good and accept that I need to stop sending it out? Should be easy, right?
Well, yes and no. I once had a poem (rotary) rejected many, many times over the course of two years, but if I’d stopped revising and sending it’d obviously be unpublished today (wish I could revise it just one more time actually!)
Of course, that’s an exception – most poems, if they’ve been rejected by half a dozen publications, begin to look pretty hopeless and I end up retiring them. A good example is political poem called two horse race that I’ve had sent back from GDS and Cordite this year, and I’m looking at it now and asking myself, why do I still try to write politically themed poems – I suck at them! So I’m shelving it and may come back to it in the future – so it’s not quite retired but it’s close enough. Another recent knock back was from Meanjin by the wonderful Judith Beveridge who passed on the sneaking moon (and a couple others) which definitely needed some tightening. Another piece from the batch needed a title change and a major re-write, but I’ll not retire either, as they might find a home yet.
Of late there seems to be an increasing trend for journals not to bother with a response to a (poetry) submission – something which they are either upfront about or seem to willfully ignore.
Sometimes it’s on the website – the publication mentions the fact that if you hear nothing you know you failed. Some are considerate enough to give a rough timeline too. It’s pretty clear and simple, and I see where they’re coming from. It’s a time thing. But it also seems like a drop in the level of courtesy.
Now, I don’t like it, but I have to admit, having been an editor of/with several print and online publications, and as poet too, I’m familiar with the frustrations to be found on both sides of the mailbox. As an editor, getting a flood of submissions and being swamped by them is tough, and because you’re often a volunteer, you’re also overworked. Overworked into thr ground often. And time is always short.
As a poet, hearing nothing at all is just offensive and disheartening. ‘Bad form’ to quote Captain Hook.
Clearly, if a publication is one of the ‘big ones’ then they’re potentially facing thousands of subs. Going Down Swinging mentioned having around 3000 subs for issues 31/32. That’s more than significant. That’s monstrous. (And GDS always responds by the way.)
I also know how much of a bastard you feel, as an editor, when you overlook a reply, and leave someone out (for whatever reason). It really sucks and you feel unprofessional. But it’s a reality.
However, as discussed here at Adam Ford’s blog, it is polite to send out a form letter/e-mail. (If GDS can get back to 3000 people, other journals can do it too.) When I started subbing in the 90s to Meanjin for instance (with woeful material mind you), I would at least get a form letter rejection along with a ‘subscribe’ bookmark (hint, read the journal before subbing, you fool!) In recent years it’s become handwritten feedback on my Meanjin rejections, which might say as much about the class of Judith Beveridge as much as the tradition itself!
So I do see both sides of it, I do, but in any event, rather than risk this post becoming a rant, I’d like to ask something almost positive. If you can, I’d like to hear about your ‘best rejection(s).’
One I can think of was from Voiceworks back when I was able to submit – it basically told me that they’d every intention of publishing one of my poems, but actually lost it in a shift of office. The issue was already going to print so I missed out. Assuming they weren’t trying to let me down easy, it wasn’t a bad rejection at all.
A few opps coming up, or open now:
Going Down Swinging is open again, a pretty damn fine magazine. This issue they’re also looking for multimedia subs, so its a real chance to think outside the page. Closing Feb 28th.
Blemish Books opens its second Triptych Poets submission round, this is a pretty cool idea, like bands who used to do split LPs, here you submit a small collection (15-25 poems) and if successful, are published alongside 2 other poets. Closes March 31st.
The Lifted Brow has recently switched formats and will now be released bimonthly in a newspaper form, and is always looking for work.
dotdotdash is also looking for submissions at the moment – issue 7’s theme will be ‘Sacred’ but the magazine takes themed and unthemed subs. Closing Feb 28th.
Very simply, you should get this one.
But glib statements aside, this is a fantastic issue. Right down to the beautiful print job – holding GDS #29 you almost get the feeling that you ought to have cotton gloves on, it’s just a wonderful finish.
And the cover by Mila Faranov is outstanding, presented beautifully by Morpheus Studios’ jacket design.
Inside it’s still great. To choose only a few favourite moments, there is Graham Nunn‘s Sentinel – where a found animal skull has “ants completing the delicate work” of cleaning it.
Oslo Davis‘ graphic novella is a perfect centrepiece, with especially effective use of perspective in the images and humour in the story of Walter, “an undercover, undercover ticket inspector [who] could be under investigation.”
And the humour continues with Simon Cox‘s Instructions for Bored Children on Long Car Trips which had me smiling ruefully with unpleasant memories.
Then you have the powerful contrasts elsewhere in the issue, where Jane’s To Do List by Ivy Alvarez is full of striking lines and a general feeling of threat and tension: “his eyes on my skin/two slugs silvering”.
It’s really nice to have a beautifully presented magazine paced well too, the running order and balance of the work inside is a testament to editors Klare Lanson & Lisa Greenaway – thanks for a great issue indeed.
Heaps more that I should mention in detail – but I’m running out of time today, so quickly; there are also great works by (among many others) Lorin Ford, (a delicate meditation on water) Matthew Hall (with a quartet of pieces dealing with light and memory) and Alec Patric‘s prose poem with its impressive construction and almost stream of conscious word choice.
Clearly, I recommend this issue – I feel quite honoured to be alongside the artists within!