Pubs Who Take, er, the Lish

This is a short piece about poetry submission rejections, and if the poetry I submit is as lame as the title above, fair enough. Rejections are a part of the writer’s journey and are both falls and stepping stones.

Actually, if the poems I submit are as twee as that last line, fair enough again!

But it is all just opinion, after all; and – I think this is true – when competing with huge numbers of submissions. Most online poetry mags are labours of love with submissions free to make and editor/s with jobs who run them part-time and without financial support, so all credit and appreciation.

Here is some supporting proof from what I have said so far and will continue to expand upon. A while back I produced a visual poem titled Submissions which demonstrates the ratio of acceptances to rejections [including non-replies],


This was produced in November, 2018, and is the contents from my ‘submitted poems’ folder then. I would say the rejections have doubled/trebled since with acceptances totalling 58. I now have a ‘submitted poems 2’ folder.

My experience is that virtually all the rejections one receives these days are friendly, apologetic, encouraging and so on. Formulaic perhaps, but reflecting a culture of positivity from small presses which offers empathy and understanding from, usually, fellow writers.

I had three rejections yesterday [uncanny – these aren’t a usual daily, or weekly or even monthly experience]. One was a direct message/email, a single poem submission that wasn’t taken but an invitation to submit another before the deadline in just over a week. I won’t re-submit, but I did in fact thank for the thoughtfulness. I don’t usually respond – they will have enough in the inbox with which to deal.

Another was a rejection of a chapbook submission. I think this was a pro-forma response and that is absolutely fair enough when they are replying to large numbers. This too was friendly, supportive, encouraging and so on.

The third was different. I’ll stress now that if I keep this following account short, the ratio of positive observation – all above – to less positive – from here – will hopefully reflect my essentially upbeat focus.

I had a chapbook submission enthusiastically accepted with a small publisher in February, 2019, and with ensuing months of non-communication and one emailed excuse after I did inquire about what was happening [that excuse accepted when given, as shit happens for us all] I contacted again this week – one year since acceptance – and was informed yesterday it will not now be published.

I will admit the above paragraph replaces the four I had written detailing in full what happened, but that was going to fuck up my idea of a ‘ratio’.

The lame relevance of the playful ‘taking the lish/piss’ title is that I’m certain the chapbook is, in fact, no longer wanted. Having been thanked for my being ‘kind and understanding’ in August 2019, I feel this has been exploited by saying now the publication of my chapbook was no longer ‘feasible’. I could be wrong, but to explain, and I think convince, I’d have to write so much more, and a ratio is a ratio is a ratio.



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