Today, Western Women Writers had our Poetrix meeting. I'm not sure how many other magazines manage their submissions by editorial committee or for those who do how crazy their meetings are, but this one was a doozy. We always have fun -- and this has been heightened by our adapting visual cues to indicate whether or not we like a poem. It's much quicker than having to go around the circle, and everyone saying yes or no. So a vertical arm above the head is a yes, a horizontal arm position in front of the body is a maybe, and a maybe-yes (for those of us fence-sitting) is a diagonal position in between yes and maybe.
But today Margaret one of our members was sick and couldn't attend the meeting, so I had to be two people -- my left arm was my responses and my right arm was hers. I had trouble enough keeping track of who was doing what, but when we both said yes, I felt like a cricket umpire indicating a six.
I'm not sure why the hilarity level was so high, other than that we had started in high spirits anyway, but I joked that Margaret must be the serious one because we were almost besides ourselves today. Much discussion of the poems followed, and led to some intriguing oneliners. Five of us comprised the committe this time, and a poem needed at least three yeses to get in, and two yeses and two maybes to get on the maybe pile. Once we'd finished going through them all, Sherryl counted the number of poems, and estimated the extent of the mag at this stage, and then we started on the maybe pile, and this was when the fun (and negotiation) really began. Two of us "stood on the table" for poems today -- poems that we felt really strongly about but which didn't have a big enough consensus to get in. We figure if someone feels strongly enough to fight for it, then it's probably a worthwhile inclusion. (Metaphorically standing on the table is a tradition that dates back to the early days of Poetrix when Lissa, one of our members, fought for one that we all didn't like, and we all said no, so she read it out to us, and we said no, so she read it out in a louder voice, and we said no, and so she read it even more forcefully, and we said no, and someone told her she had to get on the table to read it, and she said she would, and we decided then that she felt so strongly we should just accept it or she'd never shut up. Then, lo and behold, we got a letter from someone who said they loved that poem. I think that was a lesson to all of us, one we've learnt well from.
Anyway, we had lots of great poems for this issue, which made the competition fierce -- a problem all editors welcome, I'm sure. By the end of the session, we felt like we'd done a good job. Now comes the worst part: sending out the rejection letters. Depressing, because we're all writers and understand what it's like to receive them. But the reality is that we can't accept everything we receive, and perhaps, in the long run, that makes those acceptence letters so much more worthwhile.