Alex Pickens: Essay: April 2020

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Alex Pickens grew up in Southern Appalachia and has been studying and writing satire for decades, though he is seeking help. His comedy has been widely published and his screenplays have even earned him invitations to Hollywood. In his spare time he reads the Classics, fingerpicks the blues, and occasionally stares down an angry bear.

What a Satirist Hears in Form Letter Rejections

Dear (Insert Name of Pathetic Starving Writer Hoping to Hear Good News),

After much consideration and debating and meditation and consulting our horoscopes, we found we had no choice but to decline your work on this inauspicious day.  Members of our staff held out for your artistic flair, mounting conference tables as they expounded the nuance of your ingenuity, but (alas), our abilities are limited at this time.

Our limitations might come as a surprise, as you may have heard that we are gods.  Although there are moments when we fancy that we glimpse deities in reflective surfaces, we have not yet acquired the ability to manipulate the space-time continuum and create a literary magazine which will accommodate 1,529 submissions despite only having room for 8 in our publication.  We would like to feed the hungry multitude of writers by mystically multiplying opportunities, but publishing all submissions would render our role moot and gone would be the days of Nancy from advertising screaming at Ned from accounting about how much better the poem about boiling bombardier beetles is than his short story about masturbating at the county landfill.  Besides, let’s be honest, if we published everything we received, there would be an apocalypse of horrifically abysmal literature that would offend the delicate sensibilities of our readership, who would form an angry mob and arrive at our doorstep with pitchforks and torches, forcing us into a dichotomous moral crisis which we could only resolve by giving the bloodthirsty rabble your name and address (and you wouldn’t want that).

Your writing was truly flawless and left us so flabbergasted we groped for a cogent articulation that would do your unconventional masterpieces justice, but, after five hours of mouthing at each other like goldfish, we gave up.  Our miserable rag of literary detritus is not worthy of your talents!  Every flourish of your Victorian fountain pen is producing works that will soon find their place in the most prestigious literary magazines to ever lounge upon the shelves of boutique book stores, and we would not be able to live with ourselves if we did not allow them the opportunity to champion your work.  Therefore, we cannot accept your submission at this time, because doing so would deprive you of future success.  This rejection letter is therefore the best news you could possibly receive!  Rejoice, (Insert Name of Pathetic Starving Writer Hoping to Hear Good news)!

After a sufficient time has passed and your lobster-fattened girth is nestled comfortably in an overabundance of laurels, if you are still so inclined and find yourself bored of fame and fortune and filet mignons one day, remember our lowly publication and submit again.  But, please, we beg you not to submit before that time.


Disillusioned Editors of a Mid-Range Stepping Stone Literary Outlet Inundated by Recent MFA Graduates Hoping to Be Put on the Map by Receiving a Pushcart or other Prize to Validate $80,000 of Debt to Their Parents, Their Social Circle, and Themselves.