Of Rejections and Successes

Not submitting anything to this one. . . yet.
Not submitting anything to this one. . . yet.

There is so much I’d like to post about today, since I had been mostly absent of late. But before I get carried away talking about what and whom I’ve been reading, here’s a bit of an update, as promised, regarding what I myself have been writing.

Well, I’ve been writing a lot of things, editing some old drafts,  penning some new first lines, taking notes, hashing out some first drafts. . . but what I really mean to tell you about is this submission process, sending out things I’ve already written to see if they can find a home on their own.


I indicated last time that I have been collecting rejection slips so that I can wall-paper my kitchen, but I’m not too worried about that. In fact, each time a poem is rejected I know that narrows down the wide field of potential candidates to match the piece up with. They say you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince, and I suppose the submission process for poetry is pretty much like that. Luckily you find out usually more quickly in poems than in love, and most of the frogs, or journals and e-zines don’t seem to mind who else you’re kissing in the process.

And the rejections no longer upset me, except for those occasional spots where I was really hoping to see my work published. And for those places, well, I can just keep trying. Instead they now seem to give me encouragement to move on to the next frog–er publishing outlet. I even got a specific sort of rejection from Referential Magazine, and wisdom on the street is that if you get anything aside from a form rejection it’s a good sign.

My friend, the lovely poet Rachel Bunting gave me some good advice a couple of years ago when I had initially thought about dipping my toes in the icy waters of poetry submissions again. She said to do a lot of reading, and find journals that publish poems you really like. Chances are if you like their style it’s because it’s relate-able to you own.

This seems like good advice to me. Why attempt to get published somewhere, no matter how prestigious, if I don’t even like most of the poetry the put out? And there are plenty of good poetry outlets who fit my vision of what poetry is all about. More about that later. If you’ve been reading here before, you know the topic is a recurring one anyway.

Meanwhile, other recent rejections came for poems I sent to the Museum of Americana (a long shot for what I sent them anyway) and Green Mountains Review.  Was I bothered? Sure, a little, but not for long. I just think about it long enough to question if perhaps the poem could have been better, or maybe just didn’t fit that publication’s literary personae.


And that brings us to the happy part of this unfolding saga: Acceptances. Two journals recently have accepted my work, both of them Pennsylvania journals who have a bent toward poems about this region. That in itself is enough to make me look a bit harder on some of my “poems of place,” and it gives me a little hope about some upcoming submissions, including one to Blast Furnace, a journal looking for just that sort of thing. This is what I am trying to do, learn as I go.

Watershed, the Journal of the Susquehanna just contacted me to say they would like to publish my poem “Crossroad Song” in their upcoming edition this summer. The journal is edited by poet Jerry Wemple of Bloomsburg University where I got my BA. Though I’ve never studied with Jerry directly, I’ve been to a few readings and programs that he sponsored or was involved with. And I had the pleasure of reading at the same microphones back in October when we read at the Pennsylvania State Capitol building, and at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore.

You might remember some video clips from that back in the fall, and a poem of Jerry’s I read during this year’s Poetry Month project. So I’m just tickled to be in his next edition, especially since it’s a poem dedicated to an old friend of mine who passed away. I’ll let you know when it comes out and how to get your pretty little poetic hands on it.

Also two of my poems were just printed and made available on Monday in a journal that was featured in Scranton’s Zine-Fest at New Visions Studio Gallery. “For the Man in the Museum,” a tongue-in-cheek response to Billy Collins’ “Fishing on the Susquehanna in July,” and “On Selecting Optics” were just published in the Osterhout Free Library‘s spring edition of their print publication, Word Fountain. You can click on the link there to get information about how to get a copy if you’d like. And I just noticed while writing this that the online version of of this poem-only edition is available by clicking right here

The Saga Continues:

I currently have a few other submissions out there, including poems I sent to T(OUR) and The Blue Hour Magazine, which is a lovely journal right here on WordPress. I also have a few others to send out this week, including to Blast Furnace and Poemeleon. And Rattle Just opened up submissions for their upcoming “Love Poem” issue. Sadly I am not sure that many of my pieces will qualify. Some of my best stuff is about relationships gone bad. But isn’t this widely the case?

So that’s my report on attempts and successes for tonight. Maybe it’s just my attempt at being accountable; if I tell you about my goals, I have to follow through or fess up, right? Tomorrow I’ll tell you about another sort of success I experienced recently. At the very least I have given you some good journals to read, so goodnight, and good poeming!

28 Comments Add yours

  1. I saw your poem in Word Fountain while I was at Zine Fest, and I liked it a lot. I should have you come to Scranton to read at one of our events at New Visions at some point!


    1. Thank you, Brian! I just saw your post about “Letters.” I listened to an interview with the playwright on Poetry Off the Shelf from the Poetry Foundation this weekend. It’s in my list of things to blog about and link to this week. 🙂

      I would love to come up to one of the events at New Visions. It looks like a great gallery and venue for the arts. I have family in the W.B. so I get there pretty frequently.


  2. slpmartin says:

    Glad to hear you publication plans and wallpaper plans are going well…well not the wallpaper part…but you know what I mean.


    1. Haha, you know what’s funny about that is that I forgot that initial line, and when Zemanta was suggesting related topics and links I could not for the life of me understand why it was recommending articles and photos about wallpaper. 😀


  3. russtowne says:

    Congratulations on your successes and perseverance.


    1. Thank you so much, Russ!


  4. John says:

    Congrats on the publication … I went, read, and really enjoyed your kayaking poem!


    1. Hey, John, thanks! That was the first onenthey asked for. Then later they contacted me about the optics one, which I am kind of partial to being the amature birder that I seem to think I am. But I will admit (just this once) that the sound and imagery is so very polished in the river piece.


  5. RH Ramsey says:

    Excellent post. Congratulations on your success. All the best to you!! 🙂


    1. Thank you, RH.. Inreally appreciate that.


  6. Jane says:

    Congratulations! How wonderful.


  7. That’s great news! Well done!

    I don’t mind the rejections; it’s the arrogance I have in sending them in the first place, thinking they’re good enough to be considered that’s my problem. I have a real confidence issue. It’s why I don’t submit to the ‘good’ journals. But I have had a fair bit of success with competitions and anthologies, so somebody likes me.

    Really glad for you. Going to the link now to take a look.


    1. Well, we went to a poetry reading tonight by a “famous poet,” basically because our regular meeting was hijacked. But that’s a long story I won’t get into. Anyway, she won many awards, though I had never heard of her. And then we couldn’t understand her reading anyway, because there was no mic in this old hall, and it was awful. . . . straining to hear, boring as hell. . . and now since I’ve looked up her poems, well frankly I didn’t much care for her work, despite all her awards.

      So what I’m getting at in this vent session is that you might not want to get into every one of those so called “good” journals anyway. Some days I am very disappointed with the state of modern poetry. 🙂 Please, I beg you, go ahead and send them in. They’ve got to be so much better than what I heard tonight. People think that if the poem stumps you, if it’s too difficult for you to grapple with, if they have left you behind, that it must be “good.”

      Grrr. . . so fed up with that.

      Okay, back to our regularly scheduled blogging. 🙂


    2. I know EXACTLY what you mean. Our Poet Laureate read a poem at my graduation ceremony – DREADFUL. I read a collection of hers, and was moved to write a poem of complaint about it 🙂

      I have spent the last three days working on my submission to Faber New Poets – 16 poems. Even if they don’t get me anywhere, the editing has much improved them, so it was worth the effort for that alone.

      Thanks for the cheerleading!


    3. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings (I already mentioned the PUP meeting was hijacked), and obviously by the number of awards this lady has received over the years, I should have been familiar with her name. But it’s tempting that since my son was having some sort of stomach pains and still wanted to go to the poetry event. . . well the way it all turned out, it’s tempting to write a blog post called “Poetry event so bad that we ended up in the Emergency Room.” 🙂

      You go girl with the Faber New Poets submission! I’m glad I could put on the skirt and lift my pom poms for you! 😀


    4. I would definitely pay to see that 🙂


  8. Two good poems, David, but I particularly like the first one. Quite beautiful.

    Way to have a surname that puts you at the top of the contributor list 😉


    1. Thank you, dear! And yes, how luck of me to have a name starting with Ba. . . 🙂


  9. Jamie Dedes says:

    Rejection slips are a sign you are doing your job.
    Congrats on that and on your successes.
    Poem on …


    1. Cheers! And thank you.


  10. Congratulations on the successes, and thanks for the encouragement to stick with it in spite of setbacks (or “gateways to success,” as you treat them). I’ve been considering submitting some of my own stuff, but I’m not convinced they’re good enough to get any attention. Perhaps I’ll leap, then look…:o)


    1. Well, you can be the only judge of course of whether or not your poems are ready, but my guess is that if you feel they are ready to post online, you must have some confidence in them. So why not give it a try? After the editing and polishing, I’ve found that the most important thing to remember is whether or not my poems are a good fit for the place I want to submit them to. And to keep in mind that a rejection doesn’t mean that the poem sucks. It just may mean that there were others who were a better fit.


  11. David! Congratulations on your acceptances at Blast Furnace and Watershed–that’s great news!

    I received this piece of advice from a mentor: when you’re receiving a few acceptances and many rejections, it means you’re in the game at the right level.

    My fingers are crossed for your poems at the remaining journals.

    Heading over to check out your new publications!


    1. Thank you! I might have been unclear. I said there was hope at blast furnace, but that didn’t pan out since this post. However, I did since have a little success with The Blue Hour Magazine, online which gives me some hope for their next print edition. More on that in an upcomingbpost. Thanks for the cheers!


    2. Oh, now I see! and congratulations on The Blue Hour Magazine. More good news!


  12. More submissions going out this week. Fighting a summer cold got in the way last week.


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