Luck and Persistence

Do you remember the post I did a while ago with the haibun about the elderly lady shopping for vodka? It was called “Murder your Darlings”, which is what I did,. Once I published it on the blog it was no longer of interest to most haibun magazines as they require previously unpublished work.

It hadn’t gained acceptance after several tries so I put it on the blog because I liked it and wondered if this was why no editor did. It’s standard wisdom in writing circles that if you like something too much it is probably pretentious and rubbish.

Do you also remember a post recently calledΒ  “Thoughts on Poetry and Bacon?” It’s not one of my more high-brow titles. That was the one where I talked about the poet working like a car breaker to salvage useful bits for future work.

We now cut to last Saturday, when, as I told you, I had an acceptance. I think I only told you about it yesterday because I left it a few days to damp down the smugness. The Saturday acceptance was actually for three poems from a batch of four, and they weren’t Japanese style poems, they were of the style I refer to as “ordinary poems”. One (“D H Lawrence Wonders What’s for his Tea”) is scheduled for next month, the other two for May. One of the May poems is about an elderly lady buying vodka in the supermarket (sound familiar?). I re-used the character and the incident, recast it as free verse and lost the haiku.

The piece that wasn’t accepted was a haibun about Philip Larkin. I always try to send a haibun out to ordinary poetry magazines just in case they are looking for something unusual. They always send it back. To be fair – they also send all the other poems back too.

On Sunday I was looking for bits that might interest Failed Haiku and looked at the Larkin haibun. I’d just been reading Larkin’s Annus Mirabilis and a haiku came to me. It was much better than the one in the returned haibun. I also took a severe line with re-editing and cut a third of it out. This was a surprise as I had thought I had pruned it as much as possible before sending it out last time.

To cut a long story short, they accepted a senryu and the haibun. The moral of this?

Probably that a good poem will always find a home, you just have to find the right form and the right editor. Or possibly that luck and persistence will beat talent every time

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