Monday, May 17, 2010

They'll Do It Every Time

Poets who have poems accepted frequently tell each other, "...and from the set of poems I sent, the editor picked the one I liked least," or "the one that I thought was weakest," ....thereby creating a "Can I Get a Witness" moment:

"That happens to me, too!"
"They never take what I think are my best poems!"
"They took the one I sent as 'filler'!"
"I sent that one just to patronize them, and that's the one they printed!"
"They always do that!"

This phenomenon needs a name. Why do editors single out your least favorite submission when fellow poets, your teachers, and critics (who may or may not know you) zero in on the best ones right away? Is this a "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or "Come On-a My House" thing, where the artist freaks because his lamest song becomes the biggest hit?

In my case, I notice "they" "almost always" select the shortest of the poems I send, and then they always want changes in it. Either that, or it will appear with a typo or misprint (most recently: "indefinitely" instead of "infinitely"). It seems to be a joke that the universe plays on poets. But I say that only because otherwise I must conclude it's a joke poets play on themselves.

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, this is a good one. This is a subject I know intimately.

    Yes, yes, we need to give this phenomena a name...

    The editor of Sou'wester told me flat out that they want shorter poems. If it comes down to printing one longer one, or having the room for two or three other poets, they'll choose the two or three every time.