Lessons Learnt from Submissions

I’ve been pushing myself to submit more this year, particularly poetry (since I write so much of it anyway). I’ve submitted to ten literary journals or competitions this half year (which is a big improvement to the 5 I did for all of 2013).

round-yes-no-buttonsAnd here’s what’s happened with these ten:

6 rejections

1 rejection with a very encouraging message

1 poem longlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize

1 acceptance (two out of the three poems I sent) – I am sure I will crow about it once they are published!

1 still waiting to hear

One good thing about this process is that I am starting to take rejections much more stoically. The first one back in March or so was like salt and pepper being rubbed into an open wound and knocked me out for 2 days (going on two weeks). The latest one arrived tonight and I just shrugged it off and said blithely to my husband: ‘Oh, look, darling, another rejection!’

Another discovery is that there is no such thing as a good or bad poem (well, other than the obviously dire ones, which I hope mine aren’t). It’s all a matter of personal taste, timing, fit with the journal’s philosophy etc. The poem that was rejected by one journal was the one that was longlisted by judge Ruth Padel. One of the poems that has now been accepted had been rejected elsewhere.

So the moral of the story is that the obvious sayings are still the best: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, tweak and try again!’


The 2.0 Version I’m Not

I wish my parents had built an upgraded version of me      let’s call it the 2.0 selfish version

Not taught me to think of others, nor walk in their shoes.Broken_egg_orange
I wish they’d told me to hold out for Jimmy Choos
that worth is indeed measured        in status and cents.

I wish they’d taught me to interrupt and shout louder
cover the world’s cacophony
that my views are important         more right than anyone else’s in the room.
I don’t want to listen always nor ponder in impartial waters.

I want to see the world in black and white instead of always turning the coin over
to check the other side.
And why, oh why do I always give second chances, third and fourth?

I wish I did not feel tugs of guilt at each morsel thrown out.
I wish those wide eyes and distended bellies would not haunt my cupboards, nor air miles prevent me
buying sweet fruit I know I’d love.

I wish I’d never been introduced to Patience, Prudence and Humility,
three hags who’ve slaked my appetite to win, murdered my ambition,

till faintest rumours of boasting make me laugh and shiver.

Yet disdain is all fine and good.
No one cares, disdained by me.
Adulated by masses, emboldened by success,
they fail, repeat, never learn, except to repent no more.
While I nurse, bruised and battered, an ego like an unboiled egg,
integrity left orphan in a world where I no longer belong.

Lessons Learnt

From my first I learnt to lie

Release small white birds to soothe the feathers

Smile to disguise the anger, control emotions,

Mask the hurt.


From my second I learnt that lust

And friendship are not enough;  that there is no such thing

As twin souls, when convention resides, fear takes over

And brain not body is middle-aged.


From my third I learnt to sit, and sit some more,

the virtue of indolence,

The glory and triumph of egoism

The minimal pace of unhurried effort.


All useful lessons, without doubt

Yet such a bad pupil am I

That I still wonder, unbidden,

If other teachers, wiser teachers,

Could impart, beseech and smooth.

Or leave me droop.