Saturday, September 08, 2012
Poetry Submissions: Pinning the Tail on the Donkey
What continues to be most disappointing about the process of dipping hopefully into the great unknown is just how quickly hopelessness creeps in: how utterly unsuitable so much of it is, either for publishing in general (take my word for it) or for publication by Dedalus Press specifically.
It amazes and disappoints me that so many of those who evidently would like to find a home for their work don't care enough for that same work to bother to see where it might belong or be sympathetically received.
And, perhaps inevitably, the writer who doesn't give his/her work even that small amount of objective attention is as unlikely to come any closer to finding the right home for it as all of the monkeys in all of the world, pushing to get at the last few typewriters left, are likely to ... well, you see where this is going.
In short, if you're one of those poets thinking of gathering your poems to send to this or indeed to any editor or publisher, do yourself a favour (and me, and the ozone layer, etc etc) and read something (anything!) that publisher has published, ever. Whatever else editor/publishers are (with all their faults) they're not people who hide their tastes or preferences, or weaknesses. The clue is in the word 'publish': it's all out there for anyone and everyone to see.
Of course there's good writing hereabouts too, neatly set aside for a better, brighter, quieter morning. But — and here's an odd thing — it's never the authors of the really good stuff that are on the phone two days later, wanting to know immediately when we intend issuing their latest masterpiece. Funny that.
Oh, and which masterpiece might we be talking about here? Well, there's a good chance it's the one covered with thickly markered copyright symbols — just in case this embattled editor might be tempted to steal for himself that wonderful idea for a suite of sonnets on the early recordings of Procol Harum, or a series of limericks treating of the most significant deities of Hinduism.
However it works (and we'd all like to know how to do it, or do it again) the making of poems is as fundamentally related to the process of reading or otherwise ingesting as the making of music is related to partaking in other music. Bad poets, and lazy poets, and chancer poets and simply bewildered creatures who think poetry might help them (and perhaps it might, but no guarantees) can protest for all they're worth, but the truth is: if you're not reading, and reading carefully, you're just playing pin the tail on the donkey, and until you open your eyes you'll always have the sneaking suspicion that the donkey is likely long since gone.
And the reason your friends have nothing much to say to you about it all is that, so long as you're waving a sharp implement around in the air, they're thinking it's probably wiser and safer to keep well back for the moment, thank you very much.
And now, with that off my chest, here's looking forward to next week's express delivery from Parnassus. With all the poetry accumulated in the world over the last few thousand years, there's always the hope (and the possibility) that something new and deserving of attention (maybe even publication) will come along. And even if this particular editor misses it (which he well might), there's always that ideal reader/editor, waiting, listening, wishing, somewhere up the road.