In Praise of Kind Rejections

I had one of the kindest rejections of my poetry book manuscript this week from NewSouth Books, who unfortunately is no longer publishing poetry, though they put out one of my favorite collections a few years ago, Jacqueline Trimble’s American Happiness. They could have not even read my query and just written to tell me that their focus had changed and no longer includes poetry. Instead, they also wrote:

We value your friendship and dedication to Southern literature, and hope to work with you for decades to come in bringing the South’s best and brightest writers to the forefront. Clearly you are among their number; these poems you’ve given us the opportunity to read are staggeringly beautiful.

Words like these keep you going. They’re a reminder that every submission you send out, whether it’s a poem or a book, may be read by someone, and even if they can’t publish it, your work may have an influence. From the other side of the editor’s desk, it’s a reminder that every time a poem is sent back, it sends a message. I know from experience editing Poetry South why a personal note isn’t always possible, but it’s a good reminder to write one when it is. Thanks to NewSouth for taking care with their submissions and taking the time write.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

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