Little Emerson

17 August 2005

Sincerly Insencere


Palmeira, Spain, 16 August 2005

Dear Editors,

It’s been awhile since I have troubled you with submissions and I do hate to use the word “troubled”, but it is part of the facts. It seems that some editors, a minority of them, let that be clear, have had trouble in keeping up with responses to submissions. I have had trouble myself, so I try to understand. Nevertheless, part of the experiment is also about you, the editors, about your response time to people’s work. I am not sure whether that means an editor cares about submissions or not but failure to respond certainly indicates an inability to keep an implied understanding that when people submit their work it shall be taken seriously enough that it is read and replied to. At least it must be so here. When people ask—so politely that it is pathetic and telling—about how their submissions to us are doing after almost two months’ waiting I must step in and consider, at a minimum, whether all the editors are taking this matter seriously enough.

I have been way too sycophantic until now, begging and peddling these goods because I take poetry seriously and, even more importantly, the people who write it. Now, it is total bullshit for editors not to respond to poems after a reasonable amount of time. What’s reasonable? One month? Two months? I don’t know, you tell me. If your work is outstanding what do you consider a fair time for a reply? Yes, your own poems, sent to this game or to The Paris Review. This is telling indeed. Don’t tell me that at our rate of reading—we have only been through about 65 submissions—is overwhelming. Do you think that one or two months is reasonable? It is not. It is sad. It says a lot for what “really goes on in the real world”. And we dare complain. That’s also part of this experiment. Poetry is not about sincerity and feeling, but about people who control what gets read and published. If something as simple and inane as this cannot be taken seriously then it is important for people to know. It shares a little truth with them.

If you do not want to read for Little Emerson anymore then just say so. You owe yourselves that much honesty. I certainly owe it to myself. If you do not respond to the outstanding poems within 7 days, a week, then I shall assume that you do not care for this project/experiment or whatever you want to call it. Fair enough. If you have misplaced poems tell me. I will send each of you a table of results which will identify which poems you have not responded to. I am thankful for your efforts thus far. But this is not about pleasing me. It is about responding to people’s work honestly. Respond and do so sincerely or this is the same bullshit we are complaining about endlessly. And if this is the end of the experiment then it is. Why kid ourselves and the good people who played along. Let’s keep our bargain or close the shop.

This letter will be published in Little Emerson. It will neither harm nor further your “career”. That doesn’t happen here, as we agreed. Any personal queries should be sent to me for clarification.



  • Alberto,

    Thanks for working to wrestle this thing to the ground! And for starting it in the first place. When you say you've gotten 65 submissions, do you mean 65 sets of poems or only 65 poems? Just wondering. . .

    - Robert

    By Blogger Robert Wynne, at Wed Aug 17, 04:51:00 pm  

  • Robert,

    It actually sounds alot worse than it is. I couldn’t praise the editors more than I already have in the past. A bunch of good, disinterested people. Guess I’m entitled to a little tantrum every now and then, probably as a result of my own frustrations. But yes we only got through about 65 “poems” in two-and-half months. (However, it is not easy to work with 9 different people and nine different schedules. Everyone has their own life and I must respect that most of all.) Thus the sample so far is small, which is why I would like it to go a bit further. Not that we have many more submissions to go. I hope to get more in the near future as we search for that great, white whale.

    By Blogger A.R.B., at Thu Aug 18, 10:39:00 am  

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