Rejection letters, correspondence, and miscellanea from the otherwise empty annals of the Journal of Universal Rejection.

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Conference of Universal Rejection

You had a dream that turned back time.
There was a scent of wildflowers
--or was it fir trees?
You were outside, in a field,
--or were those flower-vases in a hall?
The sun sailed on its course Eastward,
--or was it splendglorious ballroom lights ticking on
                tick one after another
like crabs scuttling the floors of forgotten Ocean?

You found yourself casting off the last years
The meetings, disappointments, chalky tedium
Fell like rust-eaten shackles from your limbs.

Faces turned to meet yours,
Eyes alight.
Smiling, mouths open but hushed.
Anticipation surged in your blood.

You were attending the Conference of Universal Rejection.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Rough Diamond

Dear A           ,
We were excited at the prospect of reading--and possibly publishing--a comic strip. It's always nice to have a good chuckle, as I'm sure our readers agree.  Your piece, though has flaws.
For one it's not a comic strip. Upon closer reading of your cover letter I notice that you say it is merely a "suggestion for a comic strip."  We don't publish mere "suggestions!"
Number two.  I think it'd be funnier if your descriptions mirrored the scientific sophistication of the individual being described. The professor should be described as "a metastable allotrope of carbon arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic diamond lattice crystal structure."(1) Then you would be "a lumpy bit of sandstone, kinda mashed together".
As it was no diamond in the rough, your piece is rejected.
Best regards,
Caleb Emmons
(1) basically stolen from Wikipedia's article on diamonds.

Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection
Twitter: @JUnivRejection

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Capital "T"

Dear D       L   ,

Our new editorial policy requires hiding the names of submittants unless they provide a liability waiver. We don't make up the rules. Yes, you have a funny name, but we can't tell anyone what it is. Ha ha.

Regarding your essay, "Captain Kirk and Capitalism" -- insightful work. Brilliant work. We are impressed with your liberal use of commas, creative distribution of the words "lubricate" and "fetish", and your ability to bandy about the term "Tellarite pig nose", which we mean to look up. Maybe tomorrow.

It is clear that you are a Trekie with a capital "T". As former fans ourselves (lower case) we know that Captain Kirk allowed no directive to restrict his bold application of cultural improvements to native populations. It is clear you follow in his prodigious footsteps: God and godlessness, ideology, photography, identity and reality -- our hats off to you for your refusal to limit the scope (or length) of your essay. Whatever the point might be.

Our intern just interrupted us to say that your point is that society is created by mass media rather than the other way around. He's always spouting stuff like that. We keep him around anyway.

But wait a moment. If he's right, then you're saying we don't really know what we think. We never thought about it that way before. So maybe we're wrong and your essay isn't brilliant after all. Now we're just not sure.

And while normally that wouldn't be an obstacle to publication, well, there's the capital "T" thing. We really can't be seen to be taking you seriously.


Sonia Lyris
Editor: Short Fiction, Medium Fiction, Bits of Long Fiction, Extra-terrestrial Matters, Highlighter Exposés, Iconoclast Rants, Chocolate Epic Fantasy, & Limericks
Journal of Universal Rejection

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Cake Paradox

Dear Professor Elmenreich:

Thank you for your submission, "The Cake Paradox", which has, apparently, been languishing on our Editor-in-Chief's desk for the last seven months.

"Get this handled!" he told me yesterday, slamming it down on my desk. "And no more delays!"

You see how it is around here? And on top of that I have to drink French roast. I hate French roast.

Back to your paper which seems to have something to with baking, betting, and surprising your co-workers. While your lack of sensitivity to the gluten intolerant is both typical and lamentable, the real problem here is, one, there doesn't appear to be an actual paradox (assuming we understand your math), and two, we don't understand your math.

Luck is always factor in publishing and it's your bad luck to have had your paper assigned to me, Editor of Short Fiction (which this is not), Extra-terrestrial Matters (which this is not), Highlighter Exposés (hmm, maybe) and Chocolate Epic Fantasy (which is probably why this was given to me rather than Joe who handles Math Stuff or our sysadmin, Alice. Or maybe because everyone else was at lunch. Hmm.)

Too bad we had to fire Margarite, who handled baked goods. I thought it was cheery the way she decorated incoming submissions with star-tip icing and jimmies but our Fearless Leader didn't quite see the irony.

We are, however, sufficiently impressed with your Erdös Number that we would have a beer with you next time you're in town. If you're buying.

Good luck with your baking and co-worker gambling issues.

Most sincerely,

Sonia Lyris
Editor: Short Fiction, Medium Fiction, Bits of Long Fiction, Extra-terrestrial Matters, Highlighter Exposés, Iconoclast Rants, Chocolate Epic Fantasy, Limericks
Journal of Universal Rejection

Thursday, August 2, 2012

It Is Written

Dear N      ,

It is my pleasure to respond to your submission of "The Anxiety of Reproduction in Classical Greek Political Theory" to the Journal of Universal Rejection.

It is getting hard to keep up with even a trickle of submissions here at JofUR.  It is sadly true that we're approaching the response-time of some other well-respected journals.  (It is a funny story--I once had a paper out for review for over two years before retracting it to submit elsewhere.)

It is probably all caused by the fact that I got a job.  It is causing me to have so little time that, for example, with your paper, I have decided to just consider the first two words:  "It is..."

It is very bad form to start a paper with "It is..."  It is the worst of beginnings!  It is grounds for immediate rejection.

It is rejected.

Best regards,
Caleb Emmons
Journal of Universal Rejection

Friday, June 22, 2012

Or is it "acceptophobe"?

Dear Luca:

Thank you for submitting your work to the Journal of Universal Rejection.  It is clear that you eagerly await our rejection letter.  I’m sure psychologists have a term for such an unhealthy desire.  Perhaps you may be labeled as a rejectophile?

In any case, we aim to please.  Your work is rejected.  Additionally, I encourage you to seek counseling on your obsession with rejection.

I know you have been waiting to learn the acceptance status of your submission for a few months.  But to paraphrase our journal’s motto, your rejection may have been certain, but the time frame certainly wasn’t.

Best of luck on your future endeavors.


Eric Chicken
Associate Editor
Journal of Universal Rejection

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Black sheep and scapegoats and chicks, oh my!

The author responds:

Dear Dr Chicken:

I sincerely regret your decision to reject my prospectus.  The following version has been sent to the Journal of Innocuous Poetry and was accepted within a day.  These guys have vision.

There once was an editor called Chicken
Who feared that his chicks could not thicken
By rejecting this act
Chicken was sacked
Whereafter his chicks quickly would sicken

The associate editor politely responds:

Congratulations on finding a suitable journal for your work!  While JofIP has somewhat looser editorial standards then JofUR (after all, they have accepted at least one more manuscript than we ever did) all of us at JofUR are very happy for you.  

As for my being sacked, I'm used to it.  Just this week I've been sacked, bagged, boxed, plucked, shutout, shut up, tied up and tie-dyed.

Dear Sir:

Thank you for submitting your prospective research program entitled “Every black sheep needs a scapegoat” for review at the Journal of Universal Rejection.  I read with interest your plan of combining animal literature, philosophy and poetry.  However, I fear that this melding of research topics has already been exhausted by generations of limerick writers.

You make a claim that my personal doctoral students (my “chicks”) might find this topic interesting.  Let me assure you that at the moment my chicks are mainly interested in keeping my car clean and fueled, my lawn carefully mowed and my shoes well shined (this last being no easy task since I prefer running shoes).  To a lesser extent, they display some interest in generating research.

I encourage you to begin work at once on your proposed research, but please find an alternative venue for publication because we don't want it.

Your prospectus is rejected.


Eric Chicken
Associate Editor
Journal of Universal Rejection