The Farrar, Straus and Giroux Poetry Blog

April 17, 2009

Rejection: A[n] [Letter or Lament or Ode]

Today on Graywolf Press Friday, Jeff Shotts, senior editor at Graywolf, returns with a meditation on the art of the rejection letter.


[DATE]

[ADDRESS]

Dear [NAME OF POET]:

Thank you for sending [TITLE], which we have read and seriously considered for publication at [PUBLISHER]. We appreciate your thinking of [PUBLISHER], and also your patience during the last [NUMBER] [MONTHS or YEAR[S]] while we read and considered your work.

In these last [NUMBER] [MONTHS or YEAR[S]], [TITLE] moved from our slush pile of unsolicited submissions to our [EDITORIAL ASSISTANT’S or ASSISTANT EDITOR’S or GRADUATE ASSISTANT’S] desk, before it then found its way from the [NO SNOWBALL’S CHANCE or UNLIKELY or POSSIBLE or “B” ] pile to the heralded [LIKELY or IT WOULD BE NICE IF or HALLS OF MOUNT PARNASSUS or “A”] pile. From there, [TITLE] moved into the [NUMBER] dimension, where admittedly it was lost for a short time as it turned from [A SOLID or DARK MATTER or TOXIC THREAT] into a [LIQUID or GAS or SONNET CROWN]. Upon reconfiguration, [TITLE] materialized long enough for our [POETRY EDITOR or SENIOR EDITOR or GRADUATE ASSISTANT] to read and seriously consider it. What an amazing journey your submission has made, and only in [NUMBER] short [MONTHS or YEAR[S]].

I have the [UNPLEASANT or SELF-GRATIFYING] job of informing you that [PUBLISHER] decided it will not publish [TITLE], not now, not [EVER or IN THE NEXT TWO YEARS or IN ITS CURRENT STATE]. I have no doubt there is a great deal of merit in your poetry, but finally it came down to [ENTER ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING:]

[1] THE FACT THAT YOUR WORK READS LIKE
[1a] A HALLMARK CARD.
[1b] A JOHN ASHBERY KNOCK OFF.
[1c] A TAX RETURN.
[1d] WISHFUL THINKING.
[1e] LYRICS BY GORDON LIGHTFOOT.
[1f] YOUR RESUME.
[1g] DIRECTIONS FOR HOW TO ADMINISTER THE HEIMLICH
MANEUVER.
[2] BRASS TACKS.
[3] THE FACT THAT WE DON’T PUBLISH
[3a] SONNET CROWNS.
[3b] LIVING AUTHORS.
[3c] POETS RESIDING ABOVE 42nd STREET.
[3d] POETRY IN TRANSLATION.
[3e] YOU.
[4] THE REALIZATION THAT
[4a] WE’RE REALLY MEAN.
[4b] WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE ATTEMPTING TO CONVEY, EVEN IN YOUR COVER LETTER.
[4c] THIS IS POETRY AND WE DON’T PUBLISH POETRY.

We hate to be [DISAPPOINTING or WISHY WASHY or SOUL-CRUSHING], but I hope you understand our position and can accept this personal response as some kind of [CONSOLATION or CONVERSATION STARTER or BATHROOM WALLPAPER].

Sincerely, and with [REGRETS or MOCKING LAUGHTER or BEST WISHES FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH],


[NAME OF EDITOR]
[TITLE OF EDITOR]

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Comments

Tekay

Brilliant.

MaryWitzl

Very funny! Lyrics by Gordon Lightfoot, though? Not so bad. Billy Joel would've been more like it.

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