acknowledging rejections

I always do it — just a polite line saying thanks for getting back to me, still looking forward to next issue or whatever. It’s almost a superstition – I have to do it for each and every rejection.  Not sure why. Is it some compulsion to demonstrate (to them? to myself?) that I’m not some wacked-out loser who can’t take rejection or criticism? There was a time when I wasn’t sure that I wasn’t that sort of wacked-out loser, but I think it has passed. Why, then?

I just realize that I thought everyone did this, and am only focusing on it now because I recently sent out several rejection emails as a first-time co-editor and didn’t get any responses. Not that I thought any were due (and feeling, now I think about it, rather grateful than not that no fiery rejections of the rejections were forthcoming), but just wondering.


I have five poems up at the Dead Mule; two poems up at Eclectica and two poems up at Soundzine.

Eclectica and Soundzine have their July issues up and the Dead Mule is running its summer progressive issue, so you get new poems almost daily. Check them all out — some very nice work indeed up there!

Many thanks to editors Helen Losse (Dead Mule); Jennifer Finstrom (Eclectica) and Charles Musser and Salli Shepherd (Soundzine).

a fog-shrouded minefield and nests of weed

“The borderline between prose and poetry is one of those fog-shrouded literary minefields where the wary explorer gets blown to bits before ever seeing anything clearly. It is full of barbed wire and the stumps of dead opinions.”

Heh. That’s Ursula LeGuin, in a 1983 essay entitled “Reciprocity of Prose and Poetry” collected in her Dancing at the Edge of the World.

Another funny bit:

“Sometimes a Westerner like myself even gets the impression that the territory of poetry lies east of the Mississippi … but generally it seems more like a big fish tank and its inhabitants come rushing out of their nests of weed like sticklebacks in mating season, shouting, Out! Out! Go write novels, go write stories, go write plays and libretti and screenplays and television scripts and radio dramas and descriptions of the universe and histories and speculations on the nature of mankind and the cosmos and all that prose, but keep out of our territory where nothing is allowed to happen except poetry which is none of the above! In here we are poets: and we write for one another.”

She looks at different attempts to define the difference between poetry and prose over the years (Gertrude Stein, Goethe, Shelley and others) but – if I understand the essay correctly – finds them all in some way unsatisfactory, and leads into the back-handedly unifying conclusion that both poetry and prose in origin are a form of translation:

“Increasingly I have felt that the act of writing is itself translating, or more like translating than it is like anything else. What is the other text, the original? I have no answer. […] In translating you have a text of words to work from; in composing or creating you don’t; you have a text that is not words, and you find the words.”

Interesting concept. Makes me think of what I was trying to pin down with this Psalm 22-based lament written during NaPo 08:

dried up like a potsherd
(NaPo lament)

I am poured out
like water all my bones
are out of joint

harry says what’s with
the psalm 22-ing poems are just
zipped files they are all

already written you
poets don’t so much
write them as struggle
to unzip them

there are many free tools
for unzipping files on
the web says harry

I bring him close
to the dust of death

my tongue cleaveth
to my jaws