I recently got a rejection e-mail from a magazine. It was a very nice rejection letter. It didn’t sting all that bad because I recently had my first ACCEPTANCE email from a magazine. I first saw it on my cell phone while crossing a street. A huge smile came over my face and I said, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.” Then I got hit by a car.
Not really. But back to the rejection email. The following sentences struck me: “We are impressed with the fresh, appealing voice of these poems, especially since you’re such a young writer! We wish you lots of luck with your work, and hope to hear from you in the future.”
First, it’s incredibly nice of them to write such personalized sentences. That rarely happens. And I really do appreciate them taking the time to say what they did. But…
I’m disappointed in the huge role that age plays in their message. I’m disappointed in their implication that age and good writing go hand in hand. You know? That’s a bummer. Sure, it stands to reason that the longer you’ve been alive the more time you’ve had to practice and hone your craft. And if I read between the lines then they’re probably implying that although fresh and appealing, the poems can stand to be honed. Which is perfectly acceptable.
But I can’t help feeling like it was a folly on my part to have given this magazine clues about my relatively young age. The truth is, I’ll never know how much my age factored in to their decision. Again, maybe it wasn’t a real factor at all. Maybe it was only an afterthought. A thought after they’d already decided to pass on the work.
Anyway, that’s all that’s on my mind. In conclusion, poetry is great. I especially like when it’s not boring and it’s not maddeningly abstract. Here are a couple lines from a poet I’ve been reading lately named Marge Piercy. It’s a rare thing, and such a cool thing, when a poem can make you stop and think. Rarer and cooler, still, when a poem makes you think about something in a new, more illuminated light.
I cast myself on you, closing
my eyes as I leap and then opening them wide
as I land. Love is plunging into darkness toward
something that may exist.