“If forced to choose between failures, poetry is probably the better one.” —Charles D’Ambrosio
I recently read a blog post from poet Barrett Warner that made me laugh in a rueful way…poets not taking themselves too seriously is always a good thing. The post is titled “Failure Fridays” and begins:
June is my big rejection month. I can usually count on a little rejection all the time but by the end of the semester editors and judges seem to want to wrap things up. There’s a boat to catch, or a Yankees home stand, not to mention all the summery commitments.
Yes…that often does seem to be the case with literary magazine editors, though I’m sure it’s not true of all of them. But many literature journals are supported through universities and don’t even read submissions in the summertime, which makes sense. Nobody’s home then. [For those of you who are poets, however, the ambitious and well-organized Diane Lockward, who is also very generous, publishes a list of journals that read in summer on her site Blogalicious.]
Warner promises to make public his rejections each week in June, because, he notes, “I mean, failure isn’t so bad.” Mistakes are how we learn, often enough; but rejection from a journal is not a mistake (unless the writer has randomly sent a free verse piece to a sonnets-only publication). I often suspect rejection is not a failure, either. Maybe the poem isn’t ready for prime-time; maybe it’s too sentimental or too vague; maybe the writer left in a few clichés. Or not. Maybe the editors already had enough material or just don’t care for poems that feature chickadees or Toyotas. Maybe the editors were just not feeling the words when they read that poem. Maybe the editors have different taste from the writer.
Maybe it’s the editor who made the mistake.
And remember, there is a gap between these so-called failures during which one might–for example–tend to composing new work or revising older work instead of drowning in one’s sorrows. That’s what I shall be endeavoring to do this month. Wish me luck.