Fifty-Six Bucks -or- The Lamentations of a Common Man Upon Paying for a New Yorker Subscription

I paid fifty-six bucks
for a one-year
to the New Yorker —

I am usually better at resisting
the supergreatfantasticlimitedtime
envelopes that arrive unbidden
in Monday’s mail —

naively thinking I could enhance
the quality of my writing
if I were to improve the nature
of my reading.

I mean, it’s the New Yorker!
A perineal paradigm of first-rate
journalism, critically acclaimed
fiction and the best of current poetry.

THE place to get published. If you can get
in the New Yorker, well, you’re the shit.
Not that anyone actually in the New Yorker
would put it that way. Much too pedestrian,

if that is the correct term to use
in the context of a magazine
named for a city where almost
everyone walks, everywhere, every day.

Anyway, the magazine arrives without fail
every Monday in my mailbox — coincidence
it is the same day the suckyouinwithagoodoffer
piece arrived? — and I make every effort —

— seriously, I do, take it with me to kid’s swim
meets and everything — to have it read
before the next issue shows up tucked
between the Southern Living and the cable

bill, and I actually succeeded…with the first
issue, even enjoyed the Billy Joel article.
Since then it has been a bit more than this
conservative, family-values supporting,

anti-big government, hack of a writer
can tolerate. Seriously. The fiction
is enough to make Hemingway extol
the virtues of teetotalism. The political

pieces are about as biased as a Baptist preacher
outside an abortion clinic, but in the opposite
direction. The poetry…yes, the poetry. The main
reason I agreed to part with fifty-six bucks…..

Lets just say I have learned two valuable lessons.
First: never write a critique of The New Yorker
unless completely sober. Second: accept the fact
you are not writing poetry main stream critics

will like or accept. I am good with that,
and I had fifty-six bucks to spare.



Filed under Poetry

20 responses to “Fifty-Six Bucks -or- The Lamentations of a Common Man Upon Paying for a New Yorker Subscription

  1. It’s not a bad price for the experience and two valuable lessons; and perhaps one or two great magazine covers you can frame?

  2. I loved this. Not an easy topic to pull off well, but you did [go to stanza 5 and change to –> too].

    Once my relatives knew I was writing poetry, because they got The New Yorker, I was asked frequently, what I thought about the poetry, as they couldn’t understand it [surely understanding is a desirable quality!]. I don’t think mainstream critics know good poetry. I think they are afraid to say the emperor lost his clothes along the way — this is not to say an occasional stunning poem doesn’t makes it in, but not often.

    • there have been a couple I read again with interest, but most were read again after a ‘what the hell was that!”, and not in a good way. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have voiced my displeasure with the obscurity of current “high-level” poetry before, (and they are SO interested in my opinion) this was intended to be a short little poke, turned in to about 3 stanzas per beer.

      • I think the tide is slowly turning, but for a few years now we have had the ‘What the…’ poems. That’s when I came up with my emperor’s clothes theory. Editors are beginning to make noise about it, but there will always be some who think because the language is high flown the poem must be a good one.

      • At least there are other places to read with more sensible editors. I have found several in this edition of Rattle so far I like.

  3. I tried to curb my proofreading instincts,but since Margo mentioned a’s “extol” and “heck (of a writer)” which you are (you are anything but a hack writer, Mark) ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Never curb, I tend to post prematurely and need the proofreading. Plus, I did not really learn the first lesson until the end of the piece. ๐Ÿ™‚ Always great to see you!

  4. This is excellent, Mark! Absolutely fantastic writing. Really, it’s every bit as good as what I’ve seen published. In fact, I hope this piece gets published.

    “naively thinking I could enhance
    the quality of my writing
    if I were to improve the nature
    of my reading.” … I’ve often wondered the same thing. I just don’t have time to read anymore! Something about being a parent. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Really, your writing is very strong. I love this piece, the flow, the voice, the word choices. Top notch, Sir.

  5. I too wonder would my writing improve with my reading…not for $56 bucks! Liked the flow of this…

  6. Ha! I enjoyed this much. Clever and humorous, Mark.

  7. ha – i never read the new yorker actually… probably suffers from that illness that well established magazines suffer from sometimes…

  8. Happy your investment paid off, and yes surely the more you read the broader your spectrum for your muse to explore

    Have a good Sunday, thank you dropping in at The Sunday Lime

    Much love…

  9. Well, I would say you learned a lesson. I seldom subscribe to magazines anymore. If I want ONE magazine, after paging through, I will buy it rather than subscribe. And…I am not a fan at all of high brown New Yorker type poetry. Smiles.

  10. If I ever wanted to read The New Yorker, I know now that it is not such a good idea. “as biased as a Baptist preacher / outside an abortion clinic, but in the opposite ? direction.’ – even the bleeding liberal in me had to laugh. Seriously, all extremes make me cringe.

  11. Thank you for this.. I have bought a copy once.. and couldn’t even read it.. in general I guess the time for magazines are over.. but you would imagine that with a price like that they wouldn’t have to brown-nose the advertisers-

  12. I spent several years with the New Yorker, then I switched to the Smithsonian which doesn’t have poetry but is a good read especially for extended bathroom time. Sometimes I write poems stimulated by its articcles. Anyway, your poem is very cool. I hope to have a poem in the New Yorker one day. Why not? They publish Roz Chast’s odd little cartoons and we–though unrelated–have the same last name. Could there be a better reason to be published? (Snort.)

  13. Mark, this is stellar writing. I loved it, not that my opinion is one of those critically acclaimed ones that seems to matter in first-rate journalism such as The New Yorker…haha….but it still seemed downright brilliant to me. Your pedestrian line was absolutely killer! Completely enjoyed this…I have read it four times already….I think that makes me qualified to say….even if you can’t get published in The New Yorker, well, you’re the shit, Mark ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. Ha ha, I enjoyed this. The more so since reading two poems at Words On Fire last week and being panned by the local “critic” as “too self-referential” (ouch!) who likely has never once written a poem and felt she must needs be critical to earn her moniker…..

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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