Saturday, March 18, 2006


I wonder if it’s normal to feel pleased with a rejection? On the advice of (the very kind) Rob Mackenzie, I submitted a couple of poems to the magazine Anon and today, I heard they hadn’t made it (they've taken some of Rob's work though). However, they were short listed and, I just can’t help it, that makes me really pleased!

The poems I sent were ‘Dante’s Café Bar’ and ‘The Gypsy’s Devoted Son’ and I hadn’t sent them anywhere before. In fact, this is the only submission I’ve made in almost a year – I just never feel the need to send things out usually – but I was feeling quite pleased with where I’d got these two to and thought it’d be fun.

So, glad I nearly made it – and maybe I’ll send them somewhere else some day. For now, they’ve returned to the ‘work in progress’ folder, and here’s the Dante one (never can get those line breaks right):

At Dante’s Café Bar

I. Superbia
At six o’clock the host lights up
each table’s centrepiece, and edging
chairs with the toe of one lustrous shoe,
marvels at his creation of such a homely
mood. By seven, he’s polishing his palms
for the diners at five tables, and glowing
with resplendent satisfaction, he welcomes

II. Invidia
the latest customer who takes the sixth
with an awkward air, a meandering step.
As she twists her body into a chair, smiles
at him without her eyes and orders a green salad;
she stifles her desire for his polished silverware,
condiment bottles and convivial surroundings.
Appetite aroused, she appraises the possessions

III. Ira
of the man seated at the next table, stabbing
ravioli to a staccato ceramic screech. His concentration,
splendidly absolute, colours his skin the same vermilion
shade that smears his plate. He forces
a gulp of yielding sweetness past the garrotte
that is his shirt collar and, unappeased, he growls
deep in his chest, disturbs his neighbour,

IV. Acedia
who sighs. She pushes her fork around the dish
she has eaten countless times, and wishes
for something more than equilibrium, but her transitory
hope subsides. Complacency returned, she eats
(remembers to chew), a daub of sauce escapes
the slackness of her lips, oils her blouse.
She spreads the stain with languid fingertips, shrugs

V. Avaritia
as a man across the room takes a moment
from his Blackberry to notice her and suppress
his distaste. His dinner pushed aside, he immerses
himself in thoughts of greater pleasures, of the market’s
thrills and tides. He taps at numbers on the screen,
checks his balance; his surplus succour an indulgent
need. His coffee arrives, the aromatic tendrils drift

VI. Gula
to the receptive nostrils of a fellow patron
who pauses, fork in hand, to anticipate delights
yet to come. Returning to her unstinting
plate, she eats with large and steady eyes, punctuating
pasta with generous draughts of wine, that hint
at an excess of summer in European climes.
Numb, her nourishment ever incomplete, she watches

VII. Luxuria
a couple move from table to bar, perch on stools,
order Amaretto over ice. The woman’s foot, heel hooked,
bends until the satin of her shoe gapes wide; the man’s
shoelace sprawls untied. Leaning forward, muscle straining
the red silk cover of her thigh, teeth pressed against
her bottom lip, unconscious of the sin she is enraptured
by; she loosens the restraining knot of her married lover’s tie.


David said...


Congratulations on your poems being short listed for publication.
You know, if a magazine is worth submitting to (in terms of monetary payment and/or prestige) then you can bet that its editors are busy people,so most rejections would take the form of a "form rejection".
Therefore, if they have taken the time to tell you that you're poem
was short listed, then you should be pleased.

As for your question,"I wonder if it’s normal to feel pleased with a rejection?" Probably not many writers feel pleased at the time they are rejected. But many
experienced writers feel a retrospective pleasure (relief) that work that they submitted when they were less experienced was rejected, and feelings of regret,dismay and embarrassment
if such work was accepted.

Messalina said...

Hi David,

Thanks! As to your second paragraph, you make a very pertinent point and this, I think, is the main reason that I don't submit much yet. Until I can look back at the majority of pieces I've written (after a reasonable amount of time) and not cringe, it's probably NOT a very good idea to have too many out there on the loose!

Rob Mackenzie said...

Ah well. You win some and lose some.

I usually glance through rejeceted poems, see where (if) they can be improved, and send them somewhere else. If a poem is rejected several times (i.e. about 3 times), I put it back in my "revision required" section.

Sometimes the revision happens, other times, the poem is left to languish there forever.

Now and again, I write a poem that's rejecetd several times but I don't give up on it and continue to send it places. I'd need to be very sure of it before I'd do that.

In your poem, I seemed to notice several constructions involving past participles at the beginning of sentences. The fact I noticed it maybe suggests a touch more variation in sentence structure might help at these points. Or maybe not...

Messalina said...

Cheers Rob - I'm definitely going to revise it for the line breaks, so will take a look at the sentence structure too.

Looking forward to reading yours!

Kult said...

Shortlisted isn't bad at all.
Better luck next time, they'll come around soon ;)