Sunday, July 24, 2016

Rejections 1

This is the first in a series of documenting rejected poetry, my own. The purpose is not to exhibit self-pity, but to show what in my view is not bad form, but bad luck. (Also I want to document that it is my own poetry, and not someone else's). I've been thinking quite a bit lately about the role of luck in a writer's career, good or bad.

I've read poetry of successful poets -- 'successful' defined as published in book form by regarded presses with good distribution, and wondered how it made the grade. It seemed to be printed not on the merits of the poetry itself, but because the poet had already made a name for him/herself.

Perhaps poetry, like music, cannot ultimately be objectively judged as good or bad, but depends on myriad subjective judgments -- moreso than music, however. Though our ears tell us when music is out of tune -- a faculty that seems to be innate -- we have a far lesser ear for the rhythms, cadences, tones of a poem. It could be that sense gets in the way; poetry is, after all, language. I'm thinking of the old dance of sound and sense, and which is the leader. I hold that they must be paired; there must be a formality to this dance, of some kind.

Anyway, I don't want to digress too much on general poetics. The following two poems were rejected recently. (By whom is not at issue, pun intended)

1

[STAGE]

is brightly lit but spartan
like an improvisational night
and we see three stools
in free association

"Welcome, everyone,
we're going to say
whatever we think
and we need just a word"
and there is a pause as they whisper

"Artist" casts one
"Picasso" pipes two
"was not so upbeat" notes three
and backstage there is a row

We hear the audience shuffle
and a boy of nine
talking to himself
"Picasso" (downbeat)

"There is just enough
revision in this world"
whispers his father
"keep calm and carry on"

2

what are we saying
what are we
saying what we are

what we are saying
what we are
saying
we are