I’m looking at my submissions record. As written in my about page, poetry kicked back in October 2012, and I didn’t start submitting until November 2013. Eight magazines, journals or whatever, some fifty poems, and all rejected. Acceptances started in March 2014, and now six poetry things have my work.
And what happens to a rejected poem or set of poems? Some get published elsewhere, like my poem Doubletalk, bounced twice.
This is the poem:
Can I put some force behind the word,
Working from the language to the real,
Rooting for what platitudes conceal,
Strict against the face of what was heard?
Falsify, obfuscate, be vague,
And make amazing magic out of air,
Ducked behind the words the lies laid bare,
Around us like an ever-present plague.
And this poem bounced three times:
What makes me hang delicious in your sight,
The attitude you spread across the room.
You decorate by presence and your tools,
You set me in a country priest’s delight—
I remain your mortar board and broom,
Your modern one of metal and a grip,
Sitting there you talk and make a pose,
I sort my pieces and I float.
And this one just once:
I can raise the red flag, red and black,
Shout avante populo out loud,
Join the singing chanting righteous crowd,
And seize my ride on anarchism’s back.
Those who see the world for what it is
Can quite quickly go insane,
All too much, the misery like rain,
And was this also mine or only his?
Spread across the broken in my life,
I laid my concept of the time,
As cerebrated circuses in rhyme,
Parsing out varieties of strife.
I could say in prose but I like verse,
Goddamn, the world we fought is even worse.
So, why a no and then a yes? Some of my rejections were my fault through not checking the publication. All free verse generally means no rhyme and meter, so I looked for at least one rhymer or at least metered. I do that now, but it’s up to the editor to decide whether she or he likes the piece or not.
I also check literary publications, and of course I check the guidelines, which can say a great deal but so far none as explicitly as The Montucky Review:
“We do not want rhyming poetry. Ever. And when I say, EVER, I mean…EVER. When you hear “NO RHYMING POETRY, EVER!” think of Faye Dunaway as Mommie Dearest, you know, no wire hangers, Yeah, like that. If you submit rhyme, I can almost guarantee that it will not be accepted, unless you can actually make it work. And let’s be honest…you can’t. Did you hear me? You can’t.”
If that ain’t ’nuff said, well, damn!