In the reporting on reporting on reporting dept., the Rumpus has a piece about a series of pieces on WWAATD (FWIW, We Who Are About To Die, BTW) about The Paris Review un-accepting some poems. Basically, The Paris Review’s new editor, Lorin Stein (full disclosure: I know him), brought in a new poetry editor, Robyn Creswell, who, in reading through the poems the previous poetry editors had selected for future publication, decided he didn’t like some of them and would not publish them. And so some poets got a soul-crushing email that informed them of that fact.
Feel bad for those poets. Feel very, very bad for them. If one of them is your friend, maybe call them up, talk them off the ledge, buy them a drink, say how crappy this whole thing is. Maybe find that clip on youtube of Malcolm Tucker saying, “You’ve been disinvited,” and laugh, together, at it how gorgeously crass he is.
As resident curmudgeon, I gotta say that, while it’s easy to villainize Stein and Creswell, it’s the editorial staff at The Paris Review who decide what the publication is going to look like, and if the new editor doesn’t like what the old editor liked, and some pieces move to the trash from the bottom of the OK pile, that’s the breaks. The changing of the guard is never easy, says the guy who’s seen a couple-few of them at his own job the past few years, but–I don’t know, what’d the dead commie say about making an omelette?
Anecdotal evidence suggests the same sort of thing is happening all over commercial publishing-land: option books go unoptioned, the second book in a two-book deal is axed, low-selling hardcovers never see the promised land of paperback reissue. Granted, those decisions are made by psychopathic corporate monoliths that draw their evil energy from the blood and kidneys of orphans instead of a couple of guys sitting in a converted tenement apartment on the Upper East Side, but the idea is the same: a deal is struck, and then broken. Sucks, but you know what? Somewhere else will want your poem or bang-up second novel. Go find that place.
In other news: Poets! submit to The Paris Review right now! They just cleared out the backlog.