On Interpreting Rejection
May 4, 2014 § Leave a comment
We admire two things about Liz Kay’s essay, “Advice for Poets: What it means when a journal says no (or anything other than yes).” One thing we like is that her advice is wise and as relevant to prose writers as it is to poets. The second thing we like is the notion of replacing the term “rejection” with “decline,” as in “the editors have declined to publish my poems.” Rejection is such a harsh word.
Here is an excerpt, with a link to Kay’s full essay at the end.
1 The Form Rejection (though honestly I prefer to call it a decline): This rejection means nothing. Or it means many things. It means so many things it’s impossible to cull the meaning from it. It might mean that your work is so awful the editors couldn’t bear to read past the second line. It could mean that your work is really spectacular, but not in an aesthetic the journal normally prints. It could mean that your poem is really similar in theme to a poem the editors just took but not in a way that could open a conversation between the two if they were to print them side by side. It could mean that the editors read so many poems one night, they fell out of love with poetry and should have stopped reading 3 submissions ago but didn’t. It could be that your poem included an & (which is a particular pet peeve of Jen’s), or that you capitalized the first letter of every line (which is a particular pet peeve of mine) and so it already had a strike against it going in. In short, yes,it could mean that there is something wrong with your poems, but it also could mean that these particular editors just didn’t fall in love with them.