I Will Never Read Another Poem as Long as I live
When I first started sending out poems to magazines I was 22 years old. It was 1992. If there were internet publications, I didn’t know about them. I didn’t have a computer. I had one of those old electric typewriters that jumped when I turned it on. It weighed 30 pounds and hummed like a refrigerator. I borrowed it from a friend who got it from his father.
I didn’t understand the whole SASE thing. Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. I understood the self-addressed and stamped part, but I couldn’t figure out how you could put one envelope inside another envelope if they were exactly the same size, and folding one seemed unprofessional. I didn’t know anyone who was a writer. I was part of no “writer community.” I had only just discovered the big thick book “The Poet’s Market” and though it was filled with thousands of journals, I found no information to clarify the envelope dilemma.
So I bought these small envelopes like the kind kindergarteners put their valentines in and I used those.
Not long after, I heard about writers putting little extras in their submissions (I wasn’t cool enough to call them “subs” until many years later) such as candy hearts with messages on them like “I LUV U” and “Be Mine.” But that seemed too desperate. Besides, editors don’t want candy hearts. I don’t think they even want poetry. What they want is money, like everyone else.
A few editors managed to cram rejections slips into the tiny envelopes. Or sometimes the envelopes came back empty. One editor wrote “Nope” on the back of the envelope. But mostly they didn’t come back at all. I figured the editors were using my stamped envelope for their own benefit and thought that was pretty rude.
Then one editor wrote me:
“Get rid of the little envelopes.”
At the paper-product store I finally learned that there were envelopes just a tad bit smaller than the official size that fit easily and snugly in with my 3–5 sheets of poetry folded into thirds. I felt like I was really on my way.
Since I wasn’t getting any acceptances, I decided I needed to impress the editors with a wild…