For me, the most pleasurable aspect of submitting poems to publications has always been the copious amount of reading it entails. In order to figure out whether my work is a good fit for a magazine/journal, and in order to know which poems would make for the strongest submission, I must read through their back issues or their online e-issues. I come across a lot of amazing work during this process. Here are some such cases:
“Listen, my live one,
I glow for you.
I am your night-goat.
Feeding and fattening,
I trim your darkness,
the wild cosmos.”
-Charlotte Innes, from her poem “Night-Goat”. Read the full poem at Crate Magazine.
Of course the least pleasurable aspect for me is handling the rejection letters/emails that come pouring in. I have been sending my poems out to magazines since I was 12 years old, and have trained myself to have a tough skin and to not take things personally. I've also had to become persistent and confident. One magazine in particular, I submitted to multiple times over a period of years before they finally accepted my work. It took me a very long time to realize this, but I've learned that in order to be a successful writer I had to celebrate the rejection slips! If I am trying to find the perfect home for my poem, then I might have to go down many roads until I find a place that's just right. Every rejection note is just eliminating those paths, and narrows my options down further, therefore bringing me one step closer to the *perfect* publisher of my work.
One of my most beloved poets of all time, e.e. cummings, has an amazing book of verse entitled "No Thanks". It was rejected by 14 different publishers, but he had such confidence in what he had created that he took a $300 loan from his mother to publish it himself. He named it and dedicated it as a "no thanks" to all the publishers who had turned it down. He then created this visual poem listing all the publishers who had rejected the book, and shaped the words into a funeral urn. You might perhaps view this behavior as a little bitter, but I find it charming to display such confidence!
A publisher once said this about one of my favorite novels of all time, Vladmir Nabokov's Lolita: "… overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian… the whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy. It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream… I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years."
Oh, what madness!