Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Rejection Slip

If you've ever submitted your writing somewhere - to an agent, publisher, magazine - you've probably gotten a rejection or two along the way. That's the nature of a business where tens of thousands of people are trying to stake their claim in a very small market.

There's really no way to make that rejection not sting. To have someone say that your work is not what they're looking for, not good enough, not ready, hurts.

But this week Robert Peake, a poet and the new Senior Poetry Editor of the Silk Road Review magazine, found a way to use his experience with rejection himself, and his beautiful command of language, to weave a rejection that just might sting a little less.

You can read the whole post here, but here is the jist of it:

Rejection Slip
I’m sorry for what you lost. A friend. Or your belief in the world as a safe, sane place to live. My stamping a red “rejection” on the blood-specked page you sent to me is hardly the response you deserve. Find someone who sees the poem you will write twenty years from now, on the selfsame topic, that brings us to our knees. Never let that person go. Cling like a barnacle. Cleave also to the belief (which is true) that because you can be hollowed out, as with an ice-cream scooper, by the poems in dogeared volumes on your shelves, that someday, someday, you will have that effect on another. Today it is not this poem. Today it is not me. Though I refer to your piece by its assigned number when delegating to a subeditor the task of contacting you, consider this now my most personal attempt at reaching back. I’m sorry. I live here, too. This place overwhelms my instruments also, pegging the needles of sorrow and beauty on the gauge at the center of my chest. I decided, like you, long ago, to learn the device’s more subtle measures, no matter how often it surged and blew. Keep learning. Note by note. In the future, I will not have to look for you to know you have revised your fate. You will send this message back to me. It will not bring me comfort, even as now I am sure you are not consoled. But maybe this will encourage you to shovel coal into anger’s furnace, and ride upon that heat to a better poem. I do not like this any more than a natural disaster. Yet I must believe that Nature loves us in her way. Go write. Go write some more. Be gorgeous, despite it all.

All I can say is Wow.


  1. so much thought put into is right.

  2. Wow is right! I may print that rejection slip out and post it somewhere.....

  3. Gee, writing things poetically is so much cooler than regular ol' talking. ;o)

  4. Yes, he gets it, doesn't he? That is very nice. It almost makes me want to write poetry. Except I can't.

  5. Glad you and yours enjoyed this. Thanks for reposing. :)

  6. That's great and very timely since I've been sending out queries in teeny batches.

  7. Not too bad. :)

    I hope to be "rejected" in a similar fashion.

  8. 'be gorgeous despite it all' Words to live by in all areas of our life. Thanks for sharing your find Heidi.