These days, most rejections come through e-mail. A few still come through postal mail, but there isn’t much you can do with them except hang them on the wall in your writing room or bathroom.

Responses to rejection vary widely from bard to bard. Smashing the screen is probably the most extreme reaction, but I’ve never heard of this happening (and hope I never will). Deleting the odious missive in a fit of self-righteous rage provides only momentary satisfaction and prevents you from working with the text, the wording of the rejection.

The subject of this post is specifically editors’ comments. Cortland Review responded, the poems in this submission are, unfortunately, not a good fit for us, using two of the words I’ve seen most often.

Unfortunately, it’s not for us.

[b]ut will, unfortunately, pass

Turning up nearly as frequently, fit: we do not feel like these are the right fit for Semaphore

Unfortunately, this is not a good fit.

At this time is another frequent phrase (this moment, from Bodega). What would change to make my work acceptable?

Some responses could be called faint praise:

We enjoyed your poems and are pleased to have read these pieces; however, they are not what we are seeking for inclusion in THRUSH.

The inherent strengths of “Three Poems” were simply different from what we envision for the next issue.

We really enjoyed reading it, but ultimately we didn’t feel it was the right fit.

Agents have a somewhat different language when composing a reply to a rejection, assuming a reply will be composed—out of thirty-nine queries, nineteen never brought a response.

Of those who had: DeFiore responded, We’ve read your material, and I’m sorry to say that we don’t think it is right for the specific talents of the people working at our company at this time.

Wendy Strothman might have worked as a magazine editor: Unfortunately, your project is not right for us at this time.

Is the term “gentle rejection” an oxymoron? Not at all, as Molly Friedrich proves: there is undoubtedly a wonderful agent out there for whom your book might just be the perfect match.

I’m a formal poet and don’t think too well of most experiments that are either unreadable or are exercises in typography, but I make an exception for “found poems.” These blocks of comments can be arranged as a surreal narrative that rises from the ashes of an attempt at getting published.

Thank you, sister and brother followers! I will be posting my poems next. See my post “So, What Do They Want?” three poems rejected once, twice, thrice (literally but not in that order) before being published.


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