Help Wanted – Desperate for a rejection slip! Part 2 of a 9 Part series.
by David S Taub
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Help Wanted – Desperate for a rejection slip!
(Part 2 of 9)
The truth about us poets, who share our writing with others, and even if some tell you otherwise, is that ultimately we do enjoy positive feedback about our writing! If I had just a dollar for every individual who has 'secretly confided in me' that they were thrilled their poem had been accepted by publisher x,y,z, I could spend the rest of my life writing everything for free. Overall, my experience is that very few publishers, who accept a submitted poem, respond with a lengthy letter overflowing with 'flattery'.
It was few years ago when I first received a letter from someone excitedly telling me they had received such a letter, and they also went to the trouble of sending me a photocopy of the 'acceptance'.
Everyone has to start somewhere and I was naive about who was who in the poetry publishing market. In fact I was living in England at the time and had never heard of the 'publisher' in question. But there was something VERY suspicious about this acceptance letter. Having said that, I am very suspicious of any 'form letter' - namely a standard letter which has probably never been touched by a human hand. My suspicions were quickly confirmed when the same publisher's name cropped up several more times in quick succession, and I then managed to obtain copies from the various jubilant poets.
And let's face it, what novice wouldn't be thrilled to receive a letter starting "After carefully reading and discussing your poem, our Selection Committee has certified your poem as a semi-finalist....." And there's more: "In celebration of the unique talent that you have displayed, we also wish to publish your poem in what promises to be one of the most highly sought after collections we have ever promised ..." In fact a novice's head could easily swoon, and their chest burst with pride when told, "Before we go any further, (poets name inserted), let me make one thing clear ... your poem was selected for publication, and as a contest semi-finalist, on the basis of your unique talent and artistic vision."
Several years down the line I am amassing a wonderful collection of these letters. Courtesy of some 'interesting characters' who came to my assistance in an interesting experiment. Their names include: Stephen AbutLOL, Wadda (ass) Iyam, and the most recent, Wergle Flomp. These characters discovered that with the wonders of the Internet, the 'publishing company' whose 'Selection Committee carefully reads and discusses' all the submissions, now accepts submission at their website www.poetry.com
It was a curiosity on my part as to how 'awful' a poem has to be before a letter is issued along the lines of "Thanks for your submission but.... NO THANKS!"
Stephen AbutLOL's first attempt to fail the acceptance test with "Wots a pome", was abysmal. When I shared this experiment with my readers in the UK poetry magazine (Poetry Now), one reader commented that perhaps it was not awful enough because the first four lines had a vague 'rhythm and rhyme' to it!:
Wot's a pome if it don't rhyme
have to make it beat with time
Very serious stuff is pomes
you can write them in your homes.
Hmm back to the drawing board, and not to be thwarted, Stephen's second attempt was expected to draw a letter along the lines of "If you continue to submit drivel like this, we shall have to seek a restraining order." Unfortunately, he failed again and received great acclaim for "Nicky Nacky Noo"
Nicky Nacky Noo
Tum tum tum de tum
This is apoem I sings a lot
to make me very vary hapy.
I fink it will look good on a poster two.
and a cofey mug to shows my frineds
at work so they no i am an internashunal
poet who mite even winz a prise!
Then i wuld be vary famus
and hav lotz of muney
wich wuld be vary funny
coz some of them sayd I was
eliterite wich sucks
(I hopes I can say sucks, if not
please put a defferent word instead.)
and also I just sore the poem
has to be 20 lines long so
I am counting the lynes again.
This is line nienteen
and this in number twenty. Thanx. The End
Unfortunately the seeking of clarification as to whether or not he could use the word 'sucks' somehow was considered to be part of the poem too. And there they are on full display amongst the searchable database of all 1.4 million submissions which can be checked through at http://www.poetry.com/Publications/search.asp
This was proving to be a tough competition indeed! How to bring the 'Selection Committee' to a collective outburst of outrage rather than praise and admiration!
Next up to the plate steps Wadda ass Iyam (although the acceptance letter does not recognise or acknowledge Wadda's middle name).
Yew Gotta Larf.
Yew gotta larf at any moreon
who could write, "your poem was selected
for publication, and as a contest semi-finalist, on the basis of your unique talent
and artistic vision."
when we all know this is about as artistic
as vomitting on the neigbour's porch.
Burp... huey... excuse me while I be artistic on your cat.. so much for
the vision.. I never saw your cat.
Now let's get down to the real truth..
You hope I am fooled into parting with
my cash to see this in your anthology.
Wot if NO-ONE bought your books, mugs
plaques, keyrings? (have you thought of musical toilet-roll holders?)
I look forward to receiving your standard letter
telling me how artistic this drivel is.
If nothing else, I get a free envelope
which I can recycle.
This had to be the one that broke the poetic back, don't you think? Under his pen name 'Bert' was counting on one of the 'Selection Committee' being an avid cat lover, whereby Bert could be rightfully accused of encouraging animal abuse! Not a chance. Wadda now proudly stands toe to toe with Stephen, and "Yew Gotta larf" is also on proud display for the whole cyber world to admire!
It was with some disappointment today, Wergle Flomp received a letter from poetry.com for his poem:
flobble bobble blop
yim yam widdley woooo
yip yip yip
nish-nash nockle nockle
opfem magurby voey
Ahh! "Wurby tictoc?"
bim-burm nurgle shliptog
afttowicky wicky wicky
erm addmuksle slibberyjert !
Reqi stoobery bup dinhhk
yibberdy yobberdy hif twizzum moshlap
dwisty fujefti coppen smoppen dob
tigtog turjemy fydel
swiggy swiggy swug
Copyright Wergle Flomp January 2000
He was informed, "In celebration of the unique talent that you have displayed, we also wish to publish your poem in what promises to be one of the most highly sought after collections of poetry we have ever published... Promises of Love (ISBN 1-58235-065-5)".
However, on a slightly upbeat and encouraging note for Wergle, this acceptance was not accompanied with an additional 'bonus' that Stephen Abutlol had previously received. There was no note saying they had also selected the piece to be read by a 'professional reader', to be put on audio cassette. Neither Wergle or I can imagine why! What is difficult about reciting " Reqi stoobery bup dinhhk"? One can only assume that Romantic poetry is better read off the page!
At the time of writing this, Wergle's poem had not been posted on the website where Stephen's and Wadda's fine masterpieces can be displayed and enjoyed. But given time who knows? However, I still remain very keen to see what a poetry.com 'rejection slip' looks like.
On a slightly different twist, having had several emails from poetry friends, I want to make it quite clear - NO I have not and never would submit their poetry to this 'publishing house'. This is in response to my being informed they had discovered some of their work had appeared on the site without their knowledge or permission, having searched and found their name!
And, for what little consolation it is, I even discovered a poem of mine had been 'acquired' and posted on their site. At one point, I did have a phone number for poetry.com and I contacted them asking how this could have possibly happened. Unfortunately I was passed around between their 'customer service' staff without any explanation. Surprisingly, it was not possible for me to speak with any of the 'Selection committee'. In exasperation, I wrote to them, threatening that both I and my publisher would sue them for breach of copyright. Fortunately that did the trick.
If anyone else has more luck, than Stephen AbutLOL, Wadda (ass) Iyam and Wergle Flomp, in extracting a 'rejection slip' from this organisation, I would be delighted to see a copy!
I am of the understanding they also promote themselves under the names: National Library of Poetry and International Library of Poetry.
Copyright David Taub (UKpoet.aol.com), 2001
Originally written for Poetic Voices (Internet 'ezine'), then modified for The Thorn and Rose (Internet 'ezine)
First published (Hard-copy) The Legend, West Florida, Literary Federation Inc., September 2000
Revised for Rejectioncollection.com - Feature article of the month, 2001
Due to appear as a series in "Florida Palm" (Florida Writers' Association – membership magazine), 2002
David Taub is a member of
The British organisation 'National Union of Journalists' (NUJ);
The Florida Writers' Association;
Columnist for the UK magazine 'Poetry Now';
Freelance writer for various UK and USA magazines;
Co-author of Language of Souls (listed on amazon.com)
Official Website of David Taub (aka UKpoet)
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|Reviewed by Harriett
|Poetry.Com contacted me with an invitation to enter one of their contests back in March(?) of this year. Having just started writing again after not picking up a pen in twenty years, I entered. I submitted a poem and got their standard form letter in return. So I entered another, then another, getting the same letter each time. So I went to their website and poked around a bit, then called them on the phone with a few questions about their policies. The very nice secretary at the other end of the line, straight up told me exactly who and what they are. They will accept *anything* for publication (that means you get the standard form letter) that isn’t written with a very graphic ‘potty-mouth’ or seriously racist. I requested that they remove my work from their board. After another phone call and several e-mails, my work was still there. I had to threaten to take action against them before it was finally removed. Twenty years ago I wanted to publish my work, unfortunately all my encounters were with companies such as this. I quit writing. This time around I was not hurt by the encounter, (guess I'm a bit older and wiser). But it angers me that they would take advantage of those who don't yet know better.|
|Reviewed by jude forese
|who cares? the only thing that matters is the love to create good verse...|
|Reviewed by Trixie Love
This is quite interesting....
I too have recieved the
same letter from them..
With the exact words...
I also did some of my
own investigating them..
Yes, you are so right..
I made up a poem, that
absolutely made no sense..."jotted down
words that i made up"..
such as the title of
the title of the poem being "Inserable Lumte'.
By Betty Boobsiez
How interesting hummm...
"Betty Boobsiez has a unique talent"...
Also, Betty Boobsiez recieved an award for
her exceptional talent..
What a crock....
I told a friend of mine
about their scam...
At first i felt that
she did not believe me..
So i came across several
articles naming poetry.com as frauds...
I forward it to her...
She thanked me for saving her hundreds of dollars...
Also, the conventions
they have...Oh how they
built that up too...
I am glad you are writing this, and exposing the crooks that they are....
I am sure many, many people will learn from this....
Sad to say that many
innocent people fall
victim to this scam...
|Reviewed by Alexander Shaumyan (Reader)
|I totally agree. Organizations like poetry.com are taking advantage of the hopes and dreams of inexperienced aspiring poets, who are looking for an audience and feedback. And what they do is perfectly legal. You get what you for--instant "poet laureate". I've had one internet company (called "global publishing"? or something like that) keep asking me to use one of my poems that I never submitted in their "Who's Who In Poetry" anthology. I guess they got the poem from my website. They even send me a copy of my poem on a nice card stock paper with golden embroidering. I kept telling them no until they stopped calling me. Let's face it. Poetry.com is offering a "Poetry Laureate" course. It's a fucking joke. I'd rather have my poem in a small underground publication, than in some bullshit beautifully illustrated hardcover book, with thousands of other "winners", which I have to buy for $40-$60. Thanks for sharing your story. True poets seek the truth and leave fame to others.|