Insights into a Lack of Success

The odds of acceptance in one of the poetry magazines I submit to is, according to their submission guidelines, about 1%. Every year I send four in, and every year I get  four back. I do, however find it an uplifting experience as the editor is always very kind about my efforts, and does tend to reply quite quickly. In this case the quick replies are standard practice and I don’t take them to mean that they want my poetry off the premises asap. (I’ve just had another rejection, by the way, in case it wasn’t clear).

One percent is a very small target to aim for (though not as small as the chance of winning the lottery) and I wonder if I might be better increasing my odds of success by looking elsewhere. The trouble is that I quite like the magazine, even though it is a literary magazine rather than a poetry magazine. Half of the content goes straight over my head and is printed in space that should, in my view, be full of poetry.

It’s tricky, because I do think you ought, at my level, to subscribe to magazines if you want to be in them, so if I’m going to look elsewhere it involves more expense, or shifting allegiances.

By “my level” I mean someone submitting to three or four magazines once a year each. My conventional poetry output is much smaller than my haibun production, though I’m going to have to work a bit harder on it if I’m going to make the cut for next Poet Laureate. The current one only has nine years left and if I don’t get it then I’ll be 81 before I get another chance. By that time I probably won’t be bothered.

Anyway, as one door closes another door opens and this rejection gets me out of a hole. The four returned poems, with a couple of others I have hanging around, give me just enough for four to another magazine before their submission window closes and two to the National Poetry Competition. I keep saying I’m going to stop entering, but the lure of fame and fortune is too strong. Not that I’ll stand a chance if the current trend for nastiness continues. I was seriously thinking of writing a poem about dead puppies, just to see what happened.

I say “thinking”, but confess that I did actually make a start, so I can tell you what happened. Julia banned me from writing it. That, I think, is a convenient place to end.

19 thoughts on “Insights into a Lack of Success

  1. Helen

    Now, I didn’t realise the position of poet laureate was for ten years. You could always ask Simon Armitage next time you’re in Leeds?

    Reply
    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      Yes, they altered it to 10 years a few years ago when Andrew Motion took it on. It is better that way, as more people have a go, we have more energy and they can see a way out. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Lavinia Ross

    Sometimes one has to make their own door, and then go through it. I suspect you have some good carpentry skills. 🙂

    Julia is a wise woman. Keep listening to her. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Laurie Graves

    Bravo, Quercus! Love your devotion to poetry and to subscribing to magazines where you hope your work will be published. As for dead puppies…the less said, the better. 😉

    Reply

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