Tuesday, January 30, 2007


the process of submissions is a miserable thing. deciding which poems go to which mags, making sure you've not sent that poem to em before, no simultaneous submissions, no previously published work, typing up a letter that says more than "here's some poems, asshole," stamping envelopes, heading to the post office, etc. then, you learn to forget about submissions; editors take their time getting back in touch. you learn to expect a rejection in the SASE when it appears in your box; most poems aren't a fit. and do this ten or fifteen times to different mags, constantly. mostly, I wonder why it matters, how much ego is involved and am I doing this for the right reasons (in my case, it's always about communication, deep communication and seeking a better understanding of myself, so I think I am, most times). I think about the reader of poetry mags, the generally faceless nature of writing. the solitude. I revel in it. I want the words to stand out there on their own. to do their job. and I want no part in that, I've beaten those typewriter keys and that is my reward.

but I tell you, the feeling of opening that fucking return envelope, I swear, no matter how many times I do it, is a goddamn thrill. you look at the postmark if there is no return address, you remember the stamps you used (vintage Harleys, Ella Fitzgerald, omnipresent American flags), you feel its weight. the world compresses into one thin finger cutting along a gummed flap and the sound of paper tearing. inside, well, shit, who knows? I don't ask for my poems back, only a reply in my SASE (the postage is cheaper). maybe a tiny scrap of colored paper that reads SORRY. maybe a short note, maybe a contract signing over first North American serial rights. maybe a check, too. it is all part of the process, and when a poem lands for a total stranger, when the words hit them like they hit you, it's a fine thing indeed.

and when a mag like the New York Quarterly takes two of my poems, a mag that is legendary, and has endured much to remain active and publishing, it is a kind of affirmation that the process has merit, that the act of mailing poems out is a valid expenditure of precious time. that it is an important facet of writing the poems. that maybe the poems will help just one person understand some universal truth or ask a question of themselves or just wonder at the impossible miracle of our frail humanity. it lets me know that it is possible.

in the end it is the connection via a fucking poem to another living soul that continues to amaze me and keep me hunting for it, searching for it:

the mystery that is Art.


Blogger j.b said...

hot damn...congratu-fucking-lations!

NYQ...dayum...wow...i'd be lying if i said i weren't jealous...but it's the good kind of jealousy! ;)

and i totally understand that feeling you mention...of opening the envelope from a submission...haven't submitted much myself lately (asking those existential questions you mention, and it hasn't worked out yet...maybe, like Descartes, we are because we write: Scribo Ergo Sum!)

and, i, too, look at the postmark to attempt to decipher what magazine the submission is from. there really is only one feeling that matches it, and that's the feeling of finding an acceptance in there...especially at a place like the NYQ!

wow....good on ya, brother!

7:33 PM  
Blogger kav said...

New York Quarterly?
Even I know how damn impressive that is!
Congratulations brother!


8:06 PM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

really, thanks much. I opened that envelope FULLY expecting another reject, and found two blue contract forms.

I did a little dance and said, "fuck you bukowski..."

...but in a good way of course;)

10:04 PM  
Anonymous David McNamara said...

Congratulations. When I was in NYC in December I had lunch with Ray and Peter and talked up your forthcoming collection. It's good to hear that they like your work as much as I told them they would. Well done.

11:54 AM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

hey hey, thanks so much for the vote of confidence, both with the fine forthcoming masterpiece of the book maker's art and the kind words to the NYQ folks!

it's pretty exciting, indeed...

2:30 PM  
Blogger j.b said...

hey david, you mind working your silver tongued magic with me?

just kidding...kinda! :)

Chris, do they pay? not that it matters, of course, but it does a little...

man, that's a great thing...i bet you were just fucking stoked out of your mind...FUCK BUKOWSKI is right...ha!

4:43 PM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

nope, no pay, 2 contrib. copies and all that "glory," I suppose...

and I was stoked. a great feeling to open that sase.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Babineaux said...

And from a novice, a girl who knows nothing about the academia-ishness of poetry, who cares not a whit for stanzas or iambic pentameter or the crazy scholastic structure...
look, I only know what I FEEL. I only know what speaks to me, what moves me, what I want to hang up on the wall and look at every day.

You and McCreesh and Barrett are about the best poets I've ever read. This is only the rest of the stupid world catching up to what I already know. (I've always been ahead of my time.) Congratulations on this massive achievement!

7:23 PM  
Blogger kav said...

I wish I had adoring fans...

7:35 PM  
Anonymous David McNamara said...

Actually, j.b, I specifically told them to be wary of you. "Good writer," I said, "but...."

However, the folks at Booklyn took a keen interest in your broadside (even insisting on buying one, despite inter-vendor trade being an unspoken rule). And they have a bitchin' name.

Go on, boy, brag until you're hoarse.

10:31 PM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

here is their mission statement.

sounds like some folks the GPP would make nice with...

ooooh, j.b, people like you, they really like you!..

and a large *bow* to ms. babineaux for her unwavering and rabid support.

kav: you've got fans baby and ... well... you're just a baby ;)<---of course, I'm being funny here...you'll be deadly when you get old and cobwebby like ol cc...

david: you sir, are a freak...

12:47 AM  
Blogger pawpawpaw said...

Chris! man it's good to hear from you. I'm really sorry about never getting back to you and thanking you for your book and the awesome letter. I promise once the mag comes out you'll be the first guy to whom i send a copy. i promise one day i'll respond to your letter, but for now school is all i have time for!

keep in touch

4:57 PM  
Blogger kav said...

Haha, just a baby is right old man!

10:06 PM  
Blogger c. allen rearick said...

haven't been to your blog in a while. congrats on the NYQ. i just received issue 62, which has an interesting editorial read, in the mail. and sent a submission off myself.

you guys look at the postmark to decipher things? hell, on the SASE, i write the mag's addy.

11:37 AM  

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