Acceptances, Rejections & Retirements

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rejected many, many times over the course of two years, but if I’d stopped revising and sending it’d obviously be unpublished today (wish I could revise it just one more time actually!)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.

A new poem – in need of a title

.

the pillow felt like a grill
and the band
down the street
was singing to the ocean,
fishing boats
bobbing along

her voice powered through
notes
boxing gloves on

we turned over
and it got hotter in the hotel
varnish on the shutters
snickered
and flies batted
their drowsy heads
against the glass

tomorrow we would need
to be awake
properly for Pompeii

to see the dogs
and the stone brothel,
the deep wagon-ruts
and do our best
to realise just how brutal
a volcano could be

but she kept singing
and our air-conditioner
had been missing

since check in
and my head was Crying
the Lot of 49 because a half-finished
copy sat beside
the semi-functional phone

and you weren’t sleeping either
but none of us
could bear to admit
it and so instead of talking
we lay there
and waited
for the mountains
to swallow up the last
of the music

scrape its bowl clean
with thunder
and hints of rain.

Interested in your thoughts – I can’t come up with a title for this one and I’m hoping your suggestions can help me out!