editor, THE REJECTS
"Rejection is a means of motivation, of working harder, and a means of growing and improving."
Kip Knott's debut collection of poetry, Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom, and so on, was published in 2020 by Kelsay Books. His second full-length book of poetry, Clean Coal Burn, is forthcoming in 2021, also from Kelsay Books. His writing and photography have appeared in numerous journals and magazines throughout the U.S. and abroad, including The American Journal of Poetry, Barren, Barrow Street, Beloit Fiction Journal, Gettysburg Review, La Piccioletta Barca, Long Poem, Poet Lore, The Sun, and Virginia Quarterly Review. He has received grants from the Ohio Arts Council in both poetry and playwriting and is also the author of four poetry chapbooks: The Weight of Smoke (Bottom Dog Press, 1991); Whisper Gallery (Mudlark, 2004)); Everyday Elegies (Pudding House, 2007); Afraid of Heaven (Mudlark, 2013)
Currently, he teaches literature and composition at Columbus State in Columbus, Ohio.
Kip on Rejection
Rejection has been—and continues to be—a big part of life. While I’ve faced rejection in every aspect of my life, the rejections that I’ve experienced in my career as a writer far outnumber the rejections I’ve received in all other aspects of my life. But being the stubborn bastard that I am, I take those rejections and heft them up on my shoulders to carry like chips that motivate me.
Take, for example, the very first poem that I ever wrote in the very first writing class I ever took. To my surprise, the poem ended up earning high praise from the professor, a grizzled poet who had a reputation for being particularly hard on students. When he sang the poem’s praises in front of the class, I felt like the greatest poet in the world. My inflated sense of greatness didn’t last very long, however. The professor declared—somewhat eagerly, I thought—that every poem I submitted to the class after was shit. He even went so far as to say that the first poem I wrote must’ve been a fluke.
From that moment on, I was determined to write a poem that would make him sing my praises once again. It took three years and three more classes with him to get him to finally admit—although not in as glowing terms as he had used to describe my first poem—that I had written a good poem. The next year, when he asked to be the guest editor for a literary magazine called Gambit, he actually asked me if he could publish two of my poems, which became my first publications.
So for me, rejection is a means of motivation, a means of working harder, and a means of growing and improving. Perhaps these lines from a poem that I wrote years later about this professor—a poem in which I describe him as a father-figure in my life—explain how I deal with rejection:
Father, you are the chip I carry to make my back strong,
the man who knows the power of silence,
the man who taught me to keep to myself, never to rely on others,
to harness loneliness like a plow and make something out of hard ground.
Types of Feedback Offered
I primarily write poetry, so I feel most comfortable offering feedback on poetry. I have taught creative writing on-and-off for nearly 30 years, though, and I’ve published stories, essays, and plays over the years, so I can comment on short stories, flash fiction, creative non-fiction, plays, and screenplays. But poetry is what I would prefer to comment on. The kind of feedback that you’d like to receive from me is entirely up to you: I can offer help with brainstorming ideas for writing new pieces; I can offer general feedback on complete drafts; or I can offer more specific line-by-line/marginal comments on your work. The most important thing to remember is that any comments that I do offer are not personal judgments of you or your work. The comments that I offer are meant to be suggestions for how I believe a specific piece of writing can be improved.
No fee. Tips for Versification appreciated.