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Poetry at the End of the Universe

Poetry at the End of the Universe

This week's post is brought to you in partnership with the word persistence


Continue, carry on, go on, keep on, keep going.

Are you the sort of person who is determined to see your work in a particular magazine, despite 3, 4, 5...999 rejections? Does there come a point where you shrug and accept you and they are not destined to be paired up, or do you persist in the belief that your will is stronger than theirs?

A poetry friend of mine mused recently about whether the rejection letters received from one magazine were becoming more and more acerbic and whether it might be time to stop sending submissions to them. The rejection letters I receive tend to be pleasant to the point of being bland. I think most magazines have a template rejection letter, thanking the submitter for sending their work, regretting that it could not be used on this occasion and looking forward to reading more in the future. Even small magazines receive so many submissions there wouldn't be a magazine if the editors wrote individual replies to every submission.

I'm not going to name which magazines I desperately want to be published in, or competitions I want to make at least the longlist for (and it's not always the ones with the large entry fees and high prizes!) every poet should keep that information to themselves — it's good to be a little enigmatic :)


Stop, give up; formal desist.

When magazines do turn down the poems I've sent them I usually shrug my shoulders and carry on, resolving to send something else to them when a suitable opportunity arises. My personal opinion is, if they don't come right out and say, “The editorial team all had severe allergic reactions to your poems. Please do NOT send anything to us ever again,” then I'm going to take it as a green light to send them something else at some point.

I made a considered decision that my submission tracker spreadsheet was not going to use the word ‘Rejected’ in its outcome column. Rejected implies the editor or judge really hated the poem, which I'm happy to say I've never encountered an editor who made that opinion known. On the spreadsheet I use the outcome of ‘Declined’, which I think better reflects an editor not being able to find a suitably-sized slot in the next issue for the poem I've sent in.

It can be hard to make the decision to strike a magazine or competition off your list of submission possibilities, but sometimes it's necessary — for your sanity and theirs. If, however, you sit down with your poem after it has been declined and honestly can't see why it should be inappropriate for that market, then it's probably just one of those timing issues — send it somewhere else and find another poem to try for that magazine. If you can't figure out why a magazine that wants long poems keeps turning down your haiku then the problem probably lies elsewhere.

I'm a persistor, I'm a stubborn gravy stain on a white shirt. If I read a magazine and love the work that goes into it, then I want to get something accepted by them at some point and I'm going to continue trying until one of us bites the dust!

Mr. Prosser: You can't lie in front of the bulldozers indefinitely.

Arthur Dent: I'm game. We'll see who rusts first.
(Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

Dishing up the Poetry

Keep at it, persevere, stand firm, hang on, be persistent, be determined, be resolute,
remain, keep on, hold, linger, last, endure, continue.

Sometimes I admit I feel rather like the cow at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's series.

A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beeblebrox's table, a large fat meaty quadruped of the bovine type with large watery eyes, small horns and what might almost have been an ingratiating smile on its lips.
'Good evening', it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, 'I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in the parts of my body?'

[...] 'Something off the shoulder perhaps?' suggested the animal, 'Braised in a white wine sauce?'
'Er, your shoulder?' said Arthur in a horrified whisper.
'But naturally my shoulder, sir,' mooed the animal contentedly, 'nobody else's is mine to offer.'
[...] 'Or the rump is very good,' murmured the animal. 'I've been exercising it and eating plenty of grain, so there's a lot of good meat there.'
(Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)

It does feel a bit like that when we write our poems doesn't it! We send them off and wait for the editorial diner to decide which piece of us is going to be eaten (or discarded). We work our butts off so that the poems are juicy and flavoursome — though I'm not implying that all poetry readers are meat eaters :)

In a totally unplanned coincidence I wrote a poem titled Linger just last week — what can I say? Persistence is in my blood :)

An End to the Weirdness

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
(Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)

Another poetry friend shared some good news this week. A poem she had been trying to home for a year was finally accepted. ‘This poem was rejected by the same editor a year ago and accepted this year, with minimal changes,’ she relates. What better way to end this post than with proof that persistence pays off :)

#Persistence #Submissions #DouglasAdams #TheRestaurantAtTheEndOfTheUniverse

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