Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rejection, The Illiterate

Rejections for the marathon submission session I put together at the beginning of the month are already coming in. I appreciate the speed, but these six journals could have strung me along a little longer, let me get my hopes up a little more. Though to be fair, several of the no's were warranted, considering my writing doesn't match the journals' aesthetics. I'm terrible at picking the places I should send to; I'm much better at finding beautiful journals who don't publish anything like what I write and believing I can change all that. A waste of postage, yes, but my naivete is a little bit charming, too. At least I like to think so.

We'll see how the other 26 poetry and 2 nonfiction submissions turn out soon enough. I hope this is the breakthrough time I've been waiting for.


I'm not typically comfortable in classes, which limits my motivation to speak, but tonight's class was easier than a lot of others have been of late. I was familiar with a number of the poems we talked about, but I had new takes on several of them and was at ease enough to mention as much.

One poet and poem that struck me (again, though I can't remember where I first read it, but I must have since the book has been in my Amazon Wish List for two years) tonight was William Meredith's "The Illiterate." An amazingly simple (word choice-wise, but by no means technically so) and profound sonnet. So much to say about poetry and poets and what writing can give and take away from us.

"The Illiterate"

Touching your goodness, I am like a man
Who turns a letter over in his hand
And you might think this was because the hand
Was unfamiliar but, truth is, the man
Has never had a letter from anyone;
And now he is both afraid of what it means
And ashamed because he has no other means
To find out what it says than to ask someone.

His uncle could have left the farm to him,
Or his parents died before he sent them word,
Or the dark girl changed and want him for beloved.
Afraid and letter-proud, he keeps it with him.
What would you call his feeling for the words
That keep him rich and orphaned and beloved?

- William Meredith, from Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems

1 comment:

Josh said...

I wish you'd post more. I really appreciate these brief glimpses into who you are and what you're thinking. Beautiful poem. I hope I get to hear more of these insights next week. Lord knows I won't have much to say. (Okay, well that's probably not true. We all know I can't keep my trap shut.)