Here at the Unread Poetry Review, we are proud of the fact that, for a small fee, any poet can submit a poem for consideration and at the same time, receive a letter from one of our experienced editors who are poets themselves. Your editor will personally evaluate your poem’s success or failure, offering encouragement and suggestions for improvement where appropriate.
Unfortunately though, it has come to our attention that many of the letters from our poetry editors are not as professional as they could be. In response, and though we regret the need to formalize our standards, recent events have necessitated this action. In our continuing effort at maintaining the highest degree of artistic professionalism we must then institute the following rules, underscoring some of the personal responses we feel must be discouraged:
1. Asking a poet what he/she is wearing. (Questions of this nature are clearly of no use in providing the poet with breakthrough insight into their work).
2. Musings about a recent break up, your student loan, or the way you sometimes feel marginalized and ignored by your peers, have no place in your letters. Stick with the task at hand, people. Focus.
3. “That’s what SHE said.” Reactions to this phrase have been especially unpopular.
4. Refrain from writing letters of a romantic nature within which you express an attraction to the poet. Remember, this is NOT a dating site. And we needn’t remind you of the possible litigation involved in what our attorneys characterize as ‘stalking’ behavior. To avoid this potentiality, we are also advising that you exclude suggestions regarding the exchange of photographs as well.
5. Transparent requests for money. (This should go without saying).
6. Asking for a ‘date’ (see rule #4), promising that though you unfortunately cannot pay for a date, “this will get your name out there.” Again, highly unprofessional.
7. Requesting that the poet read YOUR poem.
8. Complaints about fellow staff members here at the magazine, using their real names. Save office disputes for meetings. That’s why we have meetings.
9. “Mama.” While the word inspires in most, a reassuring sense of maternal love, including it in a sentence such as “That’s not what your mama said last night’, is viewed as insulting. In addition, references to ‘Your sister’ have no place in your responses either.
10. “This poem is shit”, including such variants as “a piece of shit’, “a plethora of shit” et al. Remarks like these only engender enmity.
11. Any reference to your current mental well being. Boundaries people, boundaries!
In conclusion, we needn’t remind you that the $8 you are being paid per personal letter, means that you are held to a higher standard than say, an intern. You are professionals, so please act like it. Lastly, we want to reinforce the concept that you we are dealing with poets, i.e., sensitive people. Be gentle. Be nice. Act normal.
Steve Vermillion lives in Northern California. His recent work appears in print and online in variety of magazines, including The Morning News, tNY Press, The Bicycle Review, Black Heart, Eclectica, theHiggsWeldon Comedy Website, and Diverse Voices Quarterly . He has been nominated for a 2014 ‘Best of the Net Award’ in Short Stories. In his spare time Steve likes to ruminate over clever come backs he wishes he’d have said so he’ll be ready the next time. Currently, he is working on a collection of jokes that end in “Get it?”. Please feel free to join the 113 people who intermittently attend his party on Twitter @vissitor.