jornales

for a moment of joy or moments no one pays for, i give myself a ‘jornal’. this makes me rich. try it.

rejection notes (sharing a personal essay with Sanjukta)

I’d like to share this personal essay I once wrote after receiving yet another rejection note; more had come and I expect nine out of ten submissions will keep coming. You would understand why it’s melodramatic. But that feeling has not swept me over since. When I do receive one these days, I simply put away the poem, haiku or tanka, rewrite and submit to another editor. A few of these have been accepted and published. Here’s the essay:

Why must rejection wring the mind so?

These words marching onto this blank screen leaked off a bottle of emotions I had dammed. It’s been a week ago since a rejection note sneaked into my inbox—a single line in bold letters; it’s not the first, but the latest of ten I have received so far. Reading the note then, I felt sand in my eyes, pain that brings on tears. First, they stung and then creeping down my cheeks, they felt cold as a blade. I could be bleeding, I thought, but not from an invisible cut on my cheeks–it must be in my shattered heart.

Why must words of rejection wring the mind so? I had long struggled to understand. No matter how cavalier I talk of my writing, rejection feels like death for me at times. It must be during those times when I wrote too hard and too long so much so that an illusion of perfection shrouded me and darkened that fragile cave—my heart—from which I always imagine I write.

From what do words get birthed anyway? This has always been a mystery to me akin to my search for God. But this I believe in, the universe came to be out of nothing because God so decreed it with words.

I am a being out of nothing. Hence, my words leap onto a screen from the void. Why then must rejection affect me so? I and what words I string together as soon as they slip into some kind of form should turn into objects like asteroids, for one, flinging through the universe. I, who worked on it and that which they have birthed into, should no longer bear any of me.

And yet, complex as is my tiny mind, it also bloats with greed and feels as if words it has put into shape become the universe. How dare then, does anyone reject them?

But in the end, I am grateful for each rejection; it shoves me back into place. The eye does not see the self in whole, only in parts; rejection really hurts only in part. As in every object in the universe, other parts of me that have been spared soon take over and begin to birth again.

November 25, 2011 Posted by | personal essay, poetry, reflection | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

how not to haiku or haiku submitted with temerity…

…to the late Peggy Willis Lyles, the editor I was assigned to send my haiku to at Heron’s Nest. I believe this belongs to that first batch in late 2007. I had just won an honorable mention that year in the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational, a month after I migrated to Vancouver, which gave me the boldness to send these truly absolutely non-haiku I now realize.

Peggy had replied ever so kindly to my submissions–three more followed; the last one she received on her first hospitalization preceding her fatal illness, and still she responded from her hospital bed as always encouragingly (posted here ‘September twilight’ 09/07/2010 and at the haikuworld website with my tribute to her).

I’ve strived to learn from my rejection notes since then. It’s amazing how crystal clear they read as bad when they come back like wilted blooms or sagging starved horsemen. Some specifics Peggy had noted: “use of language should be natural”, “image should not be twisted (unnatural or made-up) but clear (natural in its flow)”.

Other editors of other haiku journals would send back a ‘robot’ mail or just simply not let you know; I later learned that with thousands of haiku descending on them like an avalanche (I read once about an editor receiving 250 haiku about a visit to Hawaii and not a single one worked), I began to feel less ignored in a personal way. I had long contracted haiku and it has turned into a ‘chronic malady’ so much so that I’m still writing and bugging editors.

Of these haiku that demonstrate how not to haiku (you would know), I’ve turned two of them quite successfully into free verse. Haiku#1 became “Suppositions” (free verse, posted 12/20/2010 for One Shot Wed ) and #5 as “Revenant” (sequence-like published in The Cortland Review Issue 39, May 2008 with a podcast ).

1.
turtles tipping on rocks
dip legs in pool—
summer note

2.
ah, spring—
squirrel digging shoots
chews on

3.
on black soil
clumps of snowdrops—
shorter nights

4.
old oak tree
leafing so soon? but sparrows
twig each

5.
duck pair at lagoon
V-patterns on the water—
on the sky

January 23, 2011 Posted by | haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments