Today I received a rejection that was so thoughtfully (and kindly) written that I am reproducing it here for you to read:
Dear JC Reilly,
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to read “JC Reilly–4 poems.” After careful consideration, we decided the work was not a good fit for Rivet.
Your writing is great, and we really enjoyed reading your work. We encourage you to keep sending it out and hope you find the right home for it. Our reasons for declining it were not based on quality but rather on kind. Rivet focuses on writing that goes well beyond mainstream realism and takes some big risks with content and style. If you do some more experimental work in the future, we’d be glad to see it. We invite you to subscribe to our newsletter (link below) to be the first to hear about new releases and calls for submissions.
We wish you the best with your writing and look forward to staying in touch.
The Rivet Editors
I don’t know if that is Rivet Journal’s standard rejection. It may well be. But what strikes me so much about it is that it takes a moment to offer praise (hey, I’ll take my work as being called “great” ANY DAY, even if it seems a little bland) and then to clarify what their aesthetic is. Now, when I sent them the four poems initially, I sent them what I thought were “experimental” poems–but clearly our understanding of “experimental” is quite different. And that’s ok. I also like how they invite me to send them more experimental-as-they-understand-it work in the future. It’s a nice touch.
Of course, what’s nicest about their invitation is that knowing that the four poems I sent were experimental to my mind but not to theirs tells me that I probably won’t ever write something that would strike the right chord with them. So I don’t have to worry about sending work to them again. (Unless, of course, my style radically changes, and I don’t think that’s likely.)
But I encourage any of you who do write much more experimental work to send it to Rivet Journal. It’s a lovely journal, and I like what I’ve seen of their publication, and imagine how effusive and praise-worthy they will be with people whose work they accept, if this is how gentle and praising they are of people they reject.