Once upon a time on a television far, far away, there was a strange series of commercials for Mennen Skin Bracer that featured the catchy byline “Thanks, I needed that!”
Those words quickly entered the lexicon of everyday America, with people, for various reasons, offering sincere or tongue-in-cheek gratitude under the precedence of Mennen’s advertising wisdom.
For those who submit poetry online, the “Thanks, I Needed That!” mentality looms large. Using Submittable as a tracking device, we launch dozens of our poetic progenies into the endless vacuum of hyperspace, then retire to the waiting room from Hell where we wait. And wait. And wait.
Honest, the wait-time has reached epic proportions. Months peel off the calendar. Soon responses have taken longer than it takes for a baby to enter the world. Soon you’re knocking on a year’s time with no news.
The journals are that backed up. Too many submissions. Too few readers.
Given that, imagine a market that prides itself on rapid response, even to the point of flaunting it on their “About” pages. University journals, with their deep benches (as they say in basketball) of student-readers, are especially suited to quick turnarounds.
As Exhibit A, I offer you The Penn Review’s “About” page. Note the words “Currently ranked as one of the 25 Fastest Fiction & Poetry Markets in Duotrope’s database, we strive to respond to all submissions within a week, and are currently averaging a 2-3 day response time.”
You read correctly: A response to your blindly-read poems in three days is unheard of (at least until you tune your ears to the University of Pennsylvania). The frustrated poet, whose line-up of submissions on Submittable currently resembles a 300-year-old redwood tree, can’t help but give it a go, even if it leads to a “no.”
That’s right. Go ahead, UPenn. Reject me! But do it quickly, please, like removing a Band-Aid. Fast. Ouchless.
Show me someone’s out there, in other words. Someone actually reading my work. And then, if you deny my five poems your editorial love, at least let me move on and try them elsewhere (or let me back them into a poetry port for some additional body work).
I promise to speak highly of you, even if you reject me. I’ll do it in the name of expeditiousness. I’ll sing your praises. I won’t even fuss over the rejections, if it comes to that. In fact, I’ll crow, “Thanks, I needed that!” and pass on the skin-tightening after-shave.
Sometimes doing your job quickly is all it takes to make friends in this world, especially if it’s the tortoise-paced poetry world where all manner of shell games take place.
Note to other journals: See how easy…? Go ahead. Make like Menen and slap yourselves in the face. You’ll be happy you did!