I got a nice rejection from Knockout the other day that got me thinking. Here's what they said:
"Again, we liked some of the poems here, but these weren't quite right for us. To be more specific, we felt they were too long for us; if you have any shorter work, we'd love to see it. If this is a strange request, apologies."
Now I'm fine with rejections, email or paper. They go into a pile or email folder, and their name goes on the list of where to send to next when I have things ready. That's probably what most people do I imagine.
But it was nice for Knockout (after having already received a few rejections) to let me know that they don't really dig the long poem. It wasn't personal to the point of mentioning even the titles, but I think if more journals were writing responses like this, they may cut down on submissions that they probably wouldn't publish.
Then I realized close to 1/3 of the poems in my manuscript are over a page, most nearing a full two pages, which probably would translate to nearly three pages depending on the size of a book. But thankfully every poem except one (which is still out in the world) has found a home. I write long poems. Maybe in X amount of years I won't, but now I am, and despite journal sizes or anything else, if I believe in the poems, and I like the journal, they'll be sent there.
Someone who I got my MFA with used to say, before I had even started thinking about sending work out, "I figure out how big the journal is size-wise, and then I cater my poems that way on the page when I send them out to each specific journal." That blew my mind. I thought it was crazy, and it was. And if you do that, I think you're crazy.
If your work's good enough, you should send it out. And if journals need to reject you because of the physical size and length of your work, that's all good, but like Knockout, I think that's a great piece of advice for writers to know, especially if they're writing long poems and they send to your journal, which, of course, doesn't like the like poem.
I had a dream last night that a certain press was publishing my book, one I would be very happy with. And it was odd since I did actually send there; I would've thought a dream would produce a ridiculous exchange with Ecco or something.
But of course I'm not holding my breath for anything, as I expect the "Dear Poet" form letter announcing the semi-finalists and finalists. It was still an odd dream. Clearly I'm obsessing over this manuscript way too much.