White Nectarines, Free Verse, and Rejection
One of my favorite things about this time of year is that Washington nectarines are at their ripest. For the last couple of years, that means free boxes of red-gold nectarines, lovingly grown by my friends Rick and Terie. But as I bite into these nectarines, I can’t help longing for the white nectarines my Grandma Dorothy used to plop onto our counter, in big brown grocery bags, so full that one time the bottom fell out! She grew hers in her California backyard, not on a farm in Eastern Washington as Rick and Terie do.
Years ago I wrote a poem about those nectarines, and it was my first piece of writing accepted by a popular children’s magazine. Two years later, when it still hadn’t been placed in an issue, I spoke with an editor of that magazine on the phone. I listened anxiously as he rummaged through paper files, then said, “Ah! Here it is!” and read my poem. Sadly, he explained, they were no longer printing free verse; it was confusing to children.
What could I do but thank him, hang up the phone, and laugh. No twenty-five dollar check or free copy for me. And no byline. No readers for my poem. There may have been a tear or two mixed with that laugh. But now I get to share it here, and cultivate confusion along with the love of friends, grandmas, and nectarines.
by Robyn Russell
Full and round with
Ripeness and paper;
My fingers find them
My mouth knows
Rumple, crinkle, bite
Am full and round with
Many more to
Posted on September 20, 2011, in Writerly Mishaps, Writing and tagged children's magazines, confusing children, critics, free verse, getting published, growing nectarines, nectarines, poems for kids, poetry, rejection, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.