Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Rejected by Whom?: Red Neck Poems

It's been a busy six months. I still don't know how stay at home parents get much done other than child care, but I have been writing a little here and there. I took another couple of courses that have just finished up, including intro to creative writing (which I took after, instead of before the slightly more advanced poetry writing workshop). I have been accepted into the creative writing concentration at U of H and next semester will be doing a Poetic Forms course in addition to post colonial lit. So, expect lots of limericks about colorism.
But the writing: quality feels like it's going up, despite the pretty low rate of quantity. I am submitting my stuff to somewhat higher profile journals, although I am never sure how to tell a good journal from a less good one, other than some look pretty awful. Submitting to a few contests here and there, which brings me to sixfold.org. It advertises itself as being all judged by poets and so in theory, the Sixfold process is a good one. Be judged by other poets and so many other poets that you are sure to come up with the “true” measure of your work, compared with others.’ I was a little skeptical because it felt a little gimmicky, but what the heck.
I submitted two poems and dutifully did three rounds of voting. One was a long and (for me) playful poem about the movie Live and Let Die and verbal games that couples play with each other. The other was a poem about a rural couple who are still together after a long time. Nothing earth-shattering.

 In general, the poems I read got better each round, suggesting that overall, the better poems were getting through.
My own poems made it through only one round of voting, so had a total of six votes. I had two 6’s (meaning, they thought my poems were the best of the six sets they read), I had two 1’s (my poems were the worst), and two 3’s. This isn’t exactly the perfect middle of the perfect scores, but it’s pretty close.

Being insecure, I started with the feedback from the two 6’s. It was constructive, thoughtful, and had suggestions for improvement. The 3’s were less positive, and while I didn’t agree entirely, they were written by people who had read and thought about what I wrote.

The 1’s I had saved for last. One of them had no comments at all. The other had this feedback, reproduced in its entirety: "Red neck poems with incorrect capitalization and punctuation do not appeal to me. Sorry, but writing a good poem is different than writing a good poem with bad punctuation and capitalization. Appreciated the themes with everyday life in them."

I think that kind of speaks for itself. I probably won’t do the sixfold thing again. It seems as much of a crap shoot as sending stuff to a particular editor. If it’s a journal I like, I at least know the editor has tastes that somewhat gel with mine.

“red neck poems”


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