My apologies if, in light of current events, it seems churlish to be writing about rejections or “being declined”, but I’ve had two this week. Both of which I expected, so I’m not particularly annoyed by the poems not finding a home. There are no sour grapes to be found in this house. In fact, in the case of one submission, it’s actually worked out better (in the long run) as two of the poems from that particular batch have been worked on and IMHO improved greatly since I sent them off.
Why would you do that, Mat? Why would you send unfinished work off?
I sent them off thinking they were up to snuff, but as is often the way the passing of time gives you extra perspective on them – and I was also lucky to have some feedback on them while they were out from a source I trust. This feedback made me realise I could improve them, and improve them I did.
Having wanted to get into the particular journal I sent them to, I figured it would also be a great way to tempt fate and get an acceptance there with those two specific poems. Annoying that it wasn’t the best version, but I could live with it. If the editors liked that version then that’s ace, and as we all know it’s not an uncommon practice for poems to change between mag/journal publication and inclusion in any pamphlet or collection.
The submission was sent in at the start of November 2019. I know acceptances were given circa February this year. Yesterday I got the result I was expecting, eg a no thanks.
However, it’s written in such a way that suggest to me that despite having the poems for seven months they may not have actually read them. What do you think?
“Many apologies about the delay in getting back to you, we had lots of submissions, and as you can imagine many very pressing matters. If you haven’t already heard from us, please do consider your poems available to send out to other magazines. This may not mean that we have rejected your work, but simply that we have run out of space in this issue and out of time to consider it for a future one. “
Obviously, I am going to try again. It’s a journal that I think continues to publish excellent work in every issue and my subscription will be renewed regardless of the above.
This disappointment did not manage to dint the fact that I was overjoyed this week to receive my contributor copy of the latest Finished Creatures.
That line up is pretty spectacular – new work from Sarah Wescott, Jessica Mookherjee, Ramona Herdman, Roy Marshall, Matt Barnard, DA Prince and many more. I’m still working my way through the thing, but I’ve not found a duff poem yet, so it’s an honour to be part of what is rapidly turning out to be an excellent addition to the world of poetry mags and journals.
Every issue has been chock full of excellent poems (and now some knobhead) and they feel like lovely things to hold too. Jan has done an excellent job there. I particularly like the little touch that the contributors copy has a book mark on their page. Nice.
Courses for Horses
Quick, mention the fact that horse racing is back in the news to justify the heading….
In better news, yesterday morning was spent on a Poetry Business course run by River Wolton and Cliff Yates. And what an enjoyable 3 and half hours that was. I’ve come away with 4 new drafts (although I note, largely to myself, that I’ve done nothing with the drafts from my previous session) and a huge amount of excellent feedback for a poem I’ve been putting off revisiting – despite liking the idea behind it a lot.
However, what was is more thrilling is seeing and hearing the work of the others on the course. Given we’re mainly seeing initial drafts of things scratched out five minutes previously. the standard is always ridiculously high, and takes a leap even further in the second session when it’s more about feedback on one specific poem – that can be a draft from elsewhere or something written on the day.
I think it was about 70/30 in favour of the former. I don’t know what the thinking was for the others, but for me I think that sort of group feedback is better used on a idea further down the road. The drafts I wrote that morning as part of the first session are things that I have no idea what they want to be, so trying to get feedback or suggestions for them seems premature to me.
The other obvious privilege of these things is the chance to discuss work and learn from the tutors – this time it was River and Cliff. They were two poets whose work I wasn’t really aware of prior to signing up. I’ve not had a chance to buy their work yet (that TBR pile isn’t really decreasing), but I’d like to steer you towards River’s poem Rat, published here as part of Kim Moore’s excellent Sunday Poem series, and to Cliff’s wonderful ‘On the Difficulty of Learning Chinese’.
Incidentally, if you’re not already aware then you should sign up for either the Unlocked or OPOI writing sessions with Nell Nelson and or Annie Fisher/Charlotte Gann. These will be excellent chances to learn either how to develop your poems (and probably being a poet) or your reviewing skills. I’ve spoken a lot about the OPOI reviews, so I won’t wang on about them anymore, other than to say they continue to help my own work as much as they provide a small boost to the awareness of the work of others.
Sadly these sessions are taking place during the working day, and having been off for a week I suspect I will have no chance of finding the time to attend. While Zoom, etc has been really helpful at allowing the attendance of readings or course without the need for travel, it has yet to find a way to bend time.
Take care, take care, take care.
THE WEEK IN STATS
36.4 k running – A much better week, back on it thanks to
2 x socially-distanced runs at the weekend and 2 during the week
3 poem worked on – The Post-Surgery Club, Out of Office Messages and Hatton Garden
4 new drafts: Card Shark, My First Time on Mars, That Bastard Rhesus Monkey At Longleat, and Ooh Matron—this last one very much a working title
0 Hangouts for work – cos I was off, innit.
2 rejections – Woohoo, some sense of closure, but also I wish the outstanding subs would hurry the fuck up and make a decision
Over 207 days now for submissions being out with Tangerine and Lonely Crowd. I should count from the window closing and I’m not complaining (much) about waiting, but I’d love to just know one way or the other.
1 day without cigarettes. Fits and starts, yeah!!
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green
- A Business of Ferrets
- A Collective Noun for Collective Nouns
- I Went to a Cockney Pilates Studio Called Core Blimey
READ, SEEN, ETC
Slow Is The New Fast – Slower
Margo Price – Perfectly Imperfect
Echo & The Bunnymen
Cowboy Junkies – Ghosts
VA – Get the Holy Funk – Jewel Spiritual Groovers
Inventions – Continuous Portrait
Charli XCX – how I’m feeling now
Maximillian – ST
Erland Cooper – Hether Blether
PINS – Hot Slick
British Sea Power – Open Season
Inventions – ST
The Modulations – It’s Rough Out Here
Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
Warren Zevon – Sentimental Hygiene
Jes Sah Bi & Peter One – Our Garden Needs Flowers
The Archers…It’s weird…
Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
Hangout with Jon Harman (He’s in the Norways)
Poetry Business Writing Day
SpooksS6 E7-10, S7 E1
Brassic S2 E1-6
American Werewolf In London
A Charger for Flo’s electric keyboard
Marmoleum Cleaning Fluid
Finished Creatures #3
Jennifer Wong – Letters Home 回家