Two poetry collections and umpteen published single poems later and I still have never made it into one of the big journals. But every now and again I throw caution to the wind and send out a submission to one of those important literary magazines. Then I have trained myself to dutifully forget all about it. The list of my rejections is pages long, but any poet, no matter how renowned, needs to assume that, and I certainly do.
So, recently I sent a new poem to The North American Review — honestly, despite the fact that I’m American, my track record at acceptances into US magazines is pretty horrifying. Well, you can’t win if you don’t play, right? And no, they didn’t accept the poem, but I got this rejection email which makes me feel as good (almost) as an acceptance would have made me feel:
Dear Sue Guiney, 

Thanks for sending us your submission entitled “New York and London Are Not The Same.” We receive a large number of submissions but can only publish one in a hundred. Since our space is limited, we must often pass on well-crafted writing. 

However, we would like you to know that your work made it through to the final stage of our selection process. This being said, we would very much enjoy receiving more work from you in the future. 

We wish you the best of luck in placing your work. 

The Editors 
North American Review
To me, this is an acknowledgement of my ability as a poet, and if you can introduce me to a poet that doesn’t need that, then I will not only shake their hand, but I’ll take them out to dinner. So although this particular poem remains unpublished, I’m pretty happy,  and I’m more likely to feel positive about my poems than I ordinarily would…until the encouragement wears off.
PS I now realise that early on in my career I was a finalist in their prestigious James Hearst Poetry Prize, and my defences are so strong, i guess, that I completely forgot about it until I googled them for this post. As the Firesign Theater once said decades ago, “We’re all bozos on this bus.”