It’s hilarious when you don’t get in to a poetry writing workshop and the letter says something like “We hope you will not take this news as a rejection.”
I get it that the acceptance rate was low. Yet I still immediately think to myself, okay maybe that’s not the workshop for me, anyway.
Because let’s zoom in on that. “We hope you will not take this news as a rejection.” When in fact, that’s EXACTLY what it is. A rejection. Hahahahahaha
This is exactly what’s wrong with everything that’s …. not right. Why can’t we use the correct word? Why can’t we call something exactly what it is? Otherwise just don’t bring up the word at all. That’s better than advising us against using the exact specific most appropriate word. Which is rejection.
Why is rejection so bad? I’m not afraid of this word anymore. At least, not in the context of a writing competition. More on that in a minute.
If we could use our words better, think how much easier it would be to call out so much bullshit. “Wow, so fucking misogynistic.” “Total ignorance.” Or “I’m so tired of channel 4 subjecting us to these stupid ass plastic surgery commercials (which they don’t want to call commercials) right in the middle of news hour. Give me a fucking break!!”
Can’t we just call that shit now? Instead of pretending like we didn’t just hear what we heard, see what we saw. We may act impervious but we’re not stupid. Tell me you’re not pissed off too on a daily basis on the inside, about the manipulations we’re forced to defend ourselves against almost every waking hour. That’s the real rejection btw. That’s the shit to be raging against the machine about.
Let’s talk more about the poetry world for a sec. Word choice is the job of the poet more than any other kind of artist, at least in theory. We need to find the right words. Yet who is most afraid of words? Poets? Mincing or avoiding words because of diplomacy, because of feelings, because of too much disempowerment? But this is exactly why we’re not even in the game, in society. These are the world’s smartest people with words !! but their words !! locked up in the university, confined to political correctness and/or garden-variety office politics. It’s a shame.
Is the poetry world too above the drama of lesser societies, too above the divisiveness and polemical discussions running rampant everywhere else, perhaps too enlightened for all that? Let’s remind ourselves that part of enlightenment also involves making a big giant fucking MESS.
If we could all handle just a little more rejection, if we could get more fired up about shit and speak freely and disagree freely, if we could start worrying more about principles and less about being IN with the powers that be, then maybe we’d have more relevance and influence. Just a thought.
Next time you write my rejection letter, you might give me some version of “Better luck next time,” which is totally fine by me, as it should be. And say whatever else you want, but please be advised of the significance of claims such as “this rejection letter is not a rejection” which is basically what that boils down to. It’s unnecessary to try so hard to please, it’s making us all look bad.
Because I already know the real reasons for the rejection letter anyway, and it doesn’t have to be such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. And for those who don’t know the reasons, here they are. “We are rejecting your application because we don’t like your writing, or because there are too many writers whose work we like and it’s a lottery, or because our selection process is rigged, or because your writing doesn’t speak to our interests or agenda, or maybe because your writing is actually better than we think it is.”
“In short, this rejection likely has nothing to do with you. Except in the event that your writing really does actually suck that bad, which is unlikely. Especially if you had enough connections in the field to be aware that this workshop even existed and enough experience to have the balls to apply here.”
Dear writers, dear readers, publishers, workshop hosts. Rest assured, we don’t need to worry about not getting in anymore. I’m not worried. If you reject my writing and/or me, I’ll just take it elsewhere. Like here. Or here. Or here. (Just kidding, I’m not linking my other blogs. Not now, they have pictures and we’re not fucking doing that here, yo).