I’m getting rejections like crazy on my poetry. While most are just thanks but no thanks, or doesn’t fit our needs, one editor wrote:
Thank you for sending your work to ____. Unfortunately I have not selected any of these for the upcoming issue. Though there are some interesting observations here, they tend to tell all and thus leave little for the reader to discover. I REALLY THOUGHT I’D MASTERED THE SHOW DON’T TELL IN MY HAIKU. Also it may surprise you to learn that a 5-7-5 syllable count is neither required nor necessarily desired in contemporary English-language haiku. YES, THIS DOES SURPRISE ME. I KNEW IT WASN’T REQUIRED, 5-7-5 IS MY PREFERENCE BUT FOR IT NOT TO BE DESIRED? THEY JUST FLAT DON’T WANT IT? THAT’S TERRIBLE! Also, haiku are not titled. I KNEW THIS TOO. I’D READ THAT AS HAIKU SPREAD WESTWARD, WE STARTED ADDING TITLES BUT HISTORICALLY, HAIKU ARE NOT TITLED—SO AGAIN, MY TITLES WERE MY PREFERENCE. If you are interested in learning more about contemporary haiku in general and ___’s editorial outlook in particular, you may enjoy reading the online essay _____________________________. You will find a link to the essay on our website: _____________________. Please check the website for submission guidelines and sample poems as well.
All best to you,
This was a wonderfully specific rejection. Wish they all came with this much info. Unfortunately, my submission made the editor feel I had NOT read their submission guidelines, the online essay or the sample poetry. I had. Before I submitted. And reading the sample poetry, I thought I might offer her something with a little more meat (5-7-5 )on its bones. Ha! Now isn’t that the height of arrogance?
And while her submission guidelines said nothing about submitting 3-5-3 haiku or any variation, said nothing about 5-7-5 being undesirable or outdated, there was a hint in the very title of the magazine that I overlooked. The title very specifically states contemporary haiku.
I’m not as smart as I think I am, huh?
How many times do we overlook the obvious when we read publisher's guidelines? We can skim over one word and misread the entire picture. Of course, many times we’re so convinced our writing is super-fantastic, the editor will gobble it up even though it doesn’t adhere to their guidelines.
Yes, I prefer 5-7-5 syllable haiku but that particular magazine doesn’t. I don’t like the unfinished look of no-titles, but I’ll have to live with that; play by the rules or not at all. So, back to the drawing board when it comes to haiku. Now, what to do with 35 haiku—5-7-5 and all titled? Any suggestions?
My husband has one: get back to the novel writing!