"I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance." --Wesley Snipes

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Semi-Dilemma

A few years back, I submitted a batch of poems to a fairly well-known poetry magazine. After waiting for six months or so without a response, I emailed the editor querying about the submission, and attaching the poems in question as a reminder.

I received in reply a VERY NASTY email that essentially said, "I already rejected these bad poems once, I really don't appreciate having to do it again. You're wasting my time." That's not verbatim, but it's pretty close.

I shrugged it off, but never forgot it.

*

Fast forward a couple of years. I'm now an editor for The Canary. The same editor who rudely rejected me (but neglected to inform me the first time) just sent me a copy of his/her new book with a nice note requesting a review. Of course, I'm sure that he/she doesn't remember me or the way he/she handled my submission from years ago, but I do.

*

Well, The Canary hasn't done reviews up until this point, though we have talked about including reviews in the next issue. The question: do I review the book? The second question: do I really look like a cop?

19 comments:

Eduardo C. Corral said...

To bitch or not to bitch.

I just had to retract a couple of poems from SWINK, and the editors were sweet as pie. No guff, no attitude. They even said nice things about the poems. That's how it should it work in the po-biz.

If I were you I would remind this editor/book pimp about the fucking rude email. And then tell him you will accept the book for review. Kill him/her with kindness. Then maybe this editor/book pimp will pass on the kindness.

Just my two cents.

I can't wait to read what Reb suggests. That woman knows how to bitch. Love her!

Laurel said...

I'd write an email explaining that the Canary IS thinking of doing reviews and that you WOULD consider reviewing it, but that you "feel it would be unfair" since no matter how hard you try you "can't avoid bias" due to an awkward history. I'd make em feel a little bad for being mean.

C'mon! We who edit know that it takes just as long to be mean as it does to be nice. There's no excuse for that...

Reb said...

Eduardo, I'm a very kind editor, I'll have you know. You never know when some tripe writing hack might grow up and become the next FW!

And I agree with Eduardo -- kill the prick/prickette with kindness.

Or you could always say nothing and write a ridiculously scathing review a la Logan. But that would be pretty bitchy --even for me.

xx oo smooches

Anonymous said...

Don't review the book, send him a gift from: http://fecalgram.com

it sounds like they deserve it...

Steven D. Schroeder said...

Hell, it takes longer to be mean. Either do nothing with the book or remind the person what they did to you, but don't hatchet it without revealing the bad blood.

Beverly Writer said...

I'd say write a review of the book & the previous mean interaction, your ethical questions surrounding it, and it will solve all problems. Then, send the journal with the review off to the meanie. Plus, it would be very human, and true, which is always nice.

Anonymous said...

I say Fuck em.

- Scott Pierce

(Canary's pretty hot btw)

Jonathan said...

I think Laurel has a fine solution. Write him very nicely and emphasize how deeply UNFAIR it would be to review his book, given the bad blood he created earlier.

A "nice" rejection actually creates some good will.

gina said...

Everyone has been addressing the first question, so I'll go with the second: maybe, but I think it has to do with those handcuffs you carry around.

Peter said...

I'm not a poet.

That being said, I am a writer. I think if you accept their work for review, you need to review it on its merits, and not on whatever piss fight you had with the author in the past. Likewise, I think your decision to review or not review should be based on whether it's the sort of work you would normally review, and whether you can give it a fair shake.

If you can't do that, then you're doing violence to your integrity as a writer and an editor.

That being said, the question of whether you remind this person of their past behavior is entirely separate. Personally, I'd say this is a pretty picayune thing to hold a grudge over. But that's me.

regards,
peterb

Peter said...

I agree most of the above: the two issues are separate. Revenge is a dish best served cold, or not at all: kill him with kindness and honesty. FW (who seems like a unfortunate & troubled person) might learn from it.

Laura Carter said...

Write back & say what you would say if you had forgotten about the previous incident...which you had until you were reminded, right? No special treatment, it only makes the memory worse for you, & perhaps for the other dude/gal. If in fact they will remember. Maybe they were just having a bad day.

A.R.B. said...

Treat his book as you would any other book. You are not like him / her, are you?

Alberto

Stuart Greenhouse said...

Tell us who it is. And then write the review the book deserves. That's what Dante would do.

That may be just my curiosity talking, though.

Ali Davis said...

I would like a bracelet that said What Would Dante Do?

Jesse said...

hey, listen up, this worked for me once, karma-wise. i got a snooty waitress around 4:30 a.m. over my first and only order of eggs benedict, then i gave her a disproportionately large tip as an insult. i say you gleam the review and then send him/her a reminder note that you remember his/her having slighted you.

about the other thing, if you really look like a cop? it must be some coded PC compliment. who tells you that, black people?

Jesse said...

then again, you could seemingly pass for law enforcement.

spoken by a white guy from Kansas.

but you're detective material in my book.

Jesse said...

as a former juvenile criminal, i will admit that you intimidate me...

can i get a review?!

Jesse said...

no, i don't guess all night diner exchanges convert well into poetry publishing and reviewing. but never serve cold revenge. they lie.