The Art of Rejection

Yesterday, I received a rejection letter from Jubilat. While I'm not bitter (not really), and believe rejection is part of the publication process, I realized that I'm starting a new "rejection cycle" because I'm sending out my poems for publication again. The whole process sent me back to an old poem/spoof I wrote in grad school. It's so old that I used my then maiden name in the first line.

As you can see, the poem was put together from all of the many forms and letters I've received through the years. Ever notice how some publications send out slips of paper and others send letters with hand-written notes? The hand-written notes are encouraging.

And then there are those that send subscription and donation cards with your rejection. Now that's gall. Jubilat sent a rejection slip and a subscription card.

Ultimate Rejection

Dear January, Dear Ms. Gill, Dear Author, Dear Contributor:

Thank you for your submission to _____.
Thank you for submitting to____.
We appreciate your interest in us. We’re honored that
you would consider ___ as an outlet for creative work.

Look, we know how it feels. We are writers too. It happens.
Although there is no true consolation for rejection,
We regret that it does not meet our present needs.
We regret that the manuscript you submitted does not fit our editorial needs.
Unfortunately, space does not allow us to accept work at this time.
“Not quite.”

We are a small magazine, infrequently published. At present,
we’re reading well over a hundred poems a week.
We receive approximately 1700 pieces of poetry and prose a week.
We publish only 2% of what we receive.
We’ve reached a point where we’re simply unable to accept any unsolicited material
until January 1, 2024,
which makes a personal reply difficult.
We regret the use of this form.

In the meantime, we hope you continue to offer support
by telling everyone you know about us.
As an independent literary magazine in the current “arts challenged” climate
subscribing, and outright generous gifts, is the only way we can survive.
We are, however, interested in your progress.
So we hope we haven’t added to your pile of rejection slips.

Nevertheless, we appreciate you thinking of us.
We do appreciate your interest and hope you’ll think of us again in the fall.
Please feel free to submit by our next deadline.
Thank you for showing your work to us.
Best of luck in placing your work elsewhere.
Keep reading_____, and keep trying.
Thanks and sorry.


Bug said…
This is great Jan! I actually just submitted something for the first time in a LONG time. I'll post about it soon! And yes, unfortunately it seems that rejection is a mighty big part of the process. Whatever doesn't kill us, right?
ecm said…
I really enjoy your diversity as a writer. This is filled with such humor. What a great thing to come from rejection. Keep on! I look forward to buying your first book. :)
January said…
Thanks. It's an oldie but I like to dust it off every once in a while.

Whatever doesn't kill us is the stuff of fiction an poetry!
January said…
Thanks EMC! I look forward to my first book, too--whenever that happens!

twitches said…
I still refuse to submit anymore. The two places that accepted me have NEVER published my work, and the others never even bothered with a rejection letter of any kind.The idea of sending a rejection letter along with a subscription card sums up perfectly what I think of them right now.
LJ said…
January--I did a similar 'found' poem with some of my rejections!


I saw on Bud Bloom's site that you'll be at Dodge--me too!!!

Maybe we could do a PoThurs reading or something.
LJCohen said…
oops--something wrong with my blogger display name in that last post.

January said…
Lisa, absoultely! Let's get together at Dodge and read.

Very cool!
bostonerin said…
My condolences on the rejection, butI just choked on the pretzel I was eating, I laughed so hard (that'll teach me to snack while I read your blog!). This is great. It's a perfect thumbed nose at those ubiquitous rejection slips.

However annoying they are, though, it means you are one step closer to placing your piece.
Catherine said…
That about sums it up! Actually,most of my rejections have been handwritten notes. They are quite encouraging but an actual acceptance would be more encouraging! And yes, they do tend to enclose subscription forms. It's quite hard to keep poetry magazines going in New Zealand where a subscriber base of 200 is actually quite good. So I don't blame them for asking for subscriptions - sometimes couched in terms such as "if you have a subscription you can see what kind of work we publish" (Well yes, but borrowed copies or library copies do that too).

Anyway, I really enjoyed the poem, and have a great time at Dodge!
The Ultimate Rejection. Ummmm, I once applied for a job as an editor of a magazine--there were a hundred or so applicants--and it got down to the last four. I was hopeful. Then the guy told me he "prayed" about me, and "had a flat, dead feeling." I thought a simple Tnanks Anyway would have sufficed.

This is a poem we can all commiserate with.

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