Joseph S. Pete – Re: Poetry Submission

Photo by Shaun Bell on Unsplash

Thank you so much for submitting your fantastic, beautiful, exquisitely wrought poem to Southwest Pennsylvania State Northeast Polytechnic’s Bucolic Creek Journal!

From scanning that breathlessly awaited email in your inbox, you doubtless assumed we accepted your laboriously crafted piece that we will not pay you for, whether we accept or reject it, even though you could have better spent your time writing journalism that would have resulted in actual income to support your family and that also would be read and appreciated by tens of thousands of more readers, or at least more than three or four readers who are also fellow writers, as bookstore clerks love to cynically point out whenever you purchase physical, dead-tree copies of literary journals. The beginning of our email after all followed the well-worn template of stock acceptances and not the even more well-trodden format of stock rejections. But we are in fact rejecting your well-crafted poem because it’s complete and utter trash, I mean because it doesn’t fit our editorial vision at this time. We are after all an online journal that has limited space, not the infinite capacity of the internet. This soul-crushing repudiation is not a reflection of your work, except in the sense that it is a reflection of your work in every way. We can only publish so many pieces because reasons and received hundreds of submissions from thirsty writers like you, almost all of which were fetid, putrescent, utterly repugnant crap like yours that even our dog wouldn’t sniff at if we starved him for a week.

 Your poem simply does not fit our needs at this time, which is to say it’s rubbish that would blind anyone erudite enough to appreciate true literature or poetry in its Platonic essence. We would never even briefly consider publishing such a disgusting thing, which is why we responded to a piece you spent weeks perfecting with a thoughtless auto-reply and misspelled your name for good measure.

We’re going to pass on this one because we just got many wonderful submissions for this issue, of which yours was not one. We are only squelching your long-gestating literary work because it is completely unfit for human consumption and should never see the light of day anywhere. This verse is a debacle of an order not seen since Napoleonic France. You are an abject failure and a complete disgrace to your family, hometown and the entire literary community. You have let down everyone who ever signed up for a library card or set foot in a Barnes & Noble, even if only to use the bathroom because it was the only storefront on that city block that was still open at that hour. It would be preferable if you killed yourself, snuffed out your inferior literary sensibility, and erased any trace of your miserable, woebegone existence before you sent us anything within the next 36 months of this rejection. But to submit and entrust others with your work is a brave act, and we encourage you to keep writing. Please send us more of your stuff!


Joseph S. Pete is an award-winning journalist, an Iraq War veteran, an Indiana University graduate, a book reviewer, a photographer, and a frequent guest on Lakeshore Public Radio who has consumed the occasional craft beer. He is a 2017 Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee who was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest, a feat that Geoffrey Chaucer chump never accomplished. His literary or photographic work has appeared in more than 100 journals, including Dogzplot, Proximity Magazine, Stoneboat, The High Window, Synesthesia Literary Journal, Steep Street Journal, Beautiful Losers, New Pop Lit, The Grief Diaries, Gravel, The Offbeat, Oddball Magazine, The Perch Magazine, Bull Men’s Fiction, Rising Phoenix Review, Thoughtful Dog, shufPoetry, The Roaring Muse, Prairie Winds, Blue Collar Review, Lumpen, The Rat’s Ass Review, The Tipton Poetry Journal, Euphemism, Jenny Magazine, Vending Machine Press and elsewhere. He once Googled the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, true story.

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