Poetry and Rejection

All poets are familiar with form rejection letters and emails, but how often are poets rejected?

It’s hard to know, but one poet who didn’t shy away from rejection was William Stafford. Stafford’s Writing the Australian Crawl has always been a great reference for writing poetry.  I try to reread (or at least scan) it once a year. Stafford dispensed a lot of advice in the book on how to begin a poem, particularly how he simply accepted whatever came to him and how he lowered his standards to ensure he never had writer’s block.

What struck me in this reading, however, was not the advice, but rather, his admission on page 124 of just how often his poetry is rejected:

Well, most of the poems I write I don’t send them out at all. And of those I send out, maybe a tenth of them finally get published.  So that means an awful lot of them get rejected, even ones I think are right.

Stafford’s statement was intriguing, so I decided to have a quick look at my own success rate over at Duotrope, which is where I track my all of my poetry submissions.

Right now, my acceptance rate is 10.2%, which is somewhere between zero and William Stafford.  It also means 90 out of 100 poems I submit will be (theoretically) rejected.

And I’ll gladly take it.


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