A Haibun about Editors


In my mind’s eye I see them sitting in their turrets, pale creatures with staring eyes, their unkempt hair laced with cobwebs.

Muttering, they read my submissions and slash at them with their editing quills, using ink mixed from the blood of kittens and the bitter tears of disappointed authors.

The rejection stings, but it does no lasting harm. Ten minutes later the urge to write a witty but insulting riposte has gone and the feeling of worthless failure has faded. In my mind’s eye I now see someone much more respectable and less likely to be cruel to kittens.

We need editors and as I mellow I begin to feel grateful for their efforts in running magazines. 

I start work on another submission, but I can’t quite shake the feeling that if I was to send a gift-wrapped unicorn it would turn into a donkey under the scrutiny of editors.


editor’s email

opened with hope

read with dismay


I don’t generally publish my own poetry and I will, later, write about my thoughts on self-publication, but I thought I’d give it a shot this time as this one is unlikely to be accepted. I like haibun – they are like writing a normal blog post and adding three short lines of poetry. You can add more, but I didn’t want to spoil you.

(Sorry about the double spacing in the haiku – I don’t seem to be able to get rid of it. Come to think of it, it’s actually a senryu not a haiku. Ah well…)

15 thoughts on “A Haibun about Editors

  1. Ray Rasmussen

    Even through I’ve been an editor at various haibun journals, the beastly little poem that must accompany the prose and title remain my Achilles’ Heel. So I sympathize and continue to suffer through the same waits for the accept/reject reply from an editor even though my secretly cherished little list of haibun acceptances is at about the 150 mark in most of the journals that carry haibun. Because your prose is so strong and feels to me as I read it comes from the lived experience, I’d guess that as with my haibun, the haiku are the problem. And yes, editors are simply volunteers who help, without pay, to get the journals working and unfortunately find they’ve stepped into saying yes or no (few elect the other option – make helpful suggestions) for a variety of reasons, the main one being time. And some editors, I guess, have a strong feeling that they know about the nature of haibun prose and haiku/senryu, and say yes or no with more strength than I ever did. I do hope you keep at it. Here’s a haiku from a haijin who wasn’t much admired in his time, but who has become the best loved haiku poet in Japan, or so I’ve read here and there.

    O snail
    Climb Mount Fuji
    But slowly, slowly!

    ― Kobayashi Issa (sorry, don’t know the translator)

    p.s. Coundn’t find your part 2 essay on Why Continue WP Blogging?’

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I empathise with that snail.

      Part 2 is here, though I have to confess to a habit of sometimes forgetting to write the sequels I promise.

      You are correct about the haiku – they are definitely my weak point. About twelve months ago I had several rejections on the basis that they didn’t have a strong enough relationship to the prose. It seems that I may have over-corrected as the last rejection was on the basis that they were too close to the prose.

      The editors of haibun, to give credit where it is due, have always seemed much more helpful than the editors of other sorts of writing.

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  5. Laurie Graves

    Having been an editor, all I can do is cry, “Mercy, mercy!” as I remember being buried by the avalanche of poetry submissions. 😉 However, Quercus, rest assured that without hesitation I would have published your poetry. And why not publish some of your poetry from time to time? I love reading it. And the one you shared today exactly captures the feeling of rejection all writers face. Sometimes on a regular basis.


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