So as little as I wanted to, I spent the entire night submitting to publications. My poetry, that is. It's been a long time in coming.
Long story short, I submitted to a particular publication, which I will not currently name because I am angry, and it's difficult for me to tell how logical I am being when I'm angry. But Publication X responded immediately.
Anyone who has ever submitted a poem to a magazine/journal knows how strange this is.
It read as follows:
"Sorry, but negro is not a word we use; we are unable to offer you publication in Publication X."
Okay, I get rejected all the time. We all do (I hope. It's not just me, is it? hahaha) and it's never any skin off my back. Most of the time, it's just a form letter. And sometimes it's a little note, and either way, I understand. It happens.
But is it me, or is this message a little judgemental? I mean... I sent 5 poems. And it sounds as if they were all rejected because of the content of one of them. I mean, their policy would immediately disallow Langston Hughes from ever being published.
I am no Langston Hughes.
But there is a difference between 'We can not accept your poem because we view it to be vulgar/course/offensive" and "We can not accept your poem because we don't like one of the words."
Three things before I go:
1. Negro, as it was used in the poem, wasn't justifying its use as a derogatory category, or even trying to justify its use in a non-derogatory way.
2. The magazine is based in England. Does this make a difference? I don't know.
3. Hell, here it is, for you to enjoy, or else, agree with Publication X's decision:
The Negro and the Jew Lose their Loves(A quick note: Both the quotes from Shakespeare are in reference to lines in their respective plays which are considered by many scholars to be racist. In the first, Othello bemoans the loss of his white wife, claiming that her 'pearl' is worth more than all of his race. In the second, Shylock, a merchant and Jew, believes that he has lost his daughter and money, and seems confused as to which to cry out for.)
"I threw away a pearl richer than all my tribe." -Othello
“My daughter! O, my ducats! O, my daughter!” -Shylock
I stand at Stratford-upon-Avon, and watch tourists,
their skins shaded as Shakespearean villains.
The serfs nod, smile holy-white,
kneel, snap photos, speak tongues.
I wish to grab one about the passport,
throttle him like a limp chicken,
until he squawks as Shylock over his mint,
Othello, his white idol, his tar-brushed skin. I’ll yell:
“393 years, it's been. Where is your Shakespeare?
And if you haven't found him, where is your pen?