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Fred Yannantuono has had us in stitches since he first joined Writer’s Relief in 1994 (the year Writer’s Relief began!). Fred keeps us laughing and keeps us guessing, not only with his hilarious and innovative palindromes and poems, but also with his extracurricular creative antics. We’ll warn you right now: Watch Fred’s video and read his words below…but keep in mind that Fred’s muses don’t have an off switch (and he tends to embellish a bit, much to our delight). His writing is lively, comic, brutally smart, and always a bit unexpected—which is probably why he got fired from Hallmark. They don’t know what they’re missing!
In His Words:
Advice to new writers who are trying to stay strong:
Show your work to several people whose tastes vary and insist that they tell you what it is they do not like in your work. I have found that it’s not easy getting people, especially family members, beyond the “You’re a great writer—this stuff is stupendous!” knee-jerk politeness reaction. Once you find out what it is each individual does not like, consider it in light of their personality to get a balanced feel for the critique. I’ve found it helpful to then take the objections and run them by the other pals who haven’t objected to those particular sections/lines. Eventually you’ll get a pretty accurate critical picture of what editing you should do.
As for rejection itself, the 255 poems I’ve seen accepted in the ten years since discovering Writer’s Relief also spawned over 2,000 rejections. Why haven’t I jumped off a bridge? I know it sounds like a cliché to say you shouldn’t let rejections bug you, but it’s true that they mean absolutely nothing beyond that particular editor’s orientation the split-second he or she scans your work. The day I received my first acceptance in July 2001, my first reaction was that this editor must’ve been drunk. It wasn’t until my third acceptance later that year (after another 20 or so rejections) that I turned to my kid and said, “It’s not a fluke.” Meanwhile, of the poems I’d been circulating up to that point, in the ensuing years 70% of them were accepted. Did the culture change so that I, being clairvoyantly ahead of my time when I first submitted, eventually backslid into editorial fashion? No way. It was just a matter of finding the right editor at the right time.
That’s where Writer’s Relief comes in, knowing who’s reading where, when, and what. After 30 years of sporadic submissions and total rejection, I stumbled upon Writer’s Relief in Poets & Writers magazine and wrote them the very same day. If Writer’s Relief screens your work and pronounces it publishable, it IS publishable. It’s just a matter of time and circumstance at that point before you receive your first acceptance.
And I don’t think you have to be absolutely positive you’re a good writer to forge through the darkness to the first acceptance. It’s hard to think you’re good when the slips keep piling up endlessly. But I managed it with little support, and if I could make it past 30 years of rejection, and now relatively suddenly can point to hundreds of acceptances and the acceptance of my book, I say anyone can. If it’s fun to write and you have to write, you’ll get there.
Fred’s Official Bio:
Fired from Hallmark for writing meaningful greeting-card verse, he once ran twenty straight balls at pool; finished 183rd (out of about 10,000) at the 1985 U.S. Open Crossword Puzzle Tournament; won a yodeling contest in a German restaurant; was bitten by a guard dog in a tattoo parlor; survived a car crash with Sidney Lumet; Paul Newman once claimed to have known him for a long time; hasn’t been arrested in 17 months. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2006, his book A BOILERMAKER FOR THE LADY has been banned in France, Latvia, and the Orkney Isles.
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What Fred Is Up To These Days
Fred’s Unofficial (Serious) Bio:
Since starting writing poetry in 2000 at the age of 51, 254 poems have appeared in 80 journals in 30 states, including: Atlanta Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Brooklyn Review, Cairn, California Quarterly, The Chrysalis Reader, Compass Rose, Confrontation, Darkling, descant, Dogwood, Eclipse, Epicenter, Eureka Literary Magazine, First Literary Review-East, Fugue, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Green Mountains Review, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, The Hollins Critic, Hurricane Review, Inkwell, J Journal, Light Quarterly, Lungfull!, The Madison Review, Mangrove, The Massachusetts Review, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Mochila Review, New Delta Review, New Orleans Review, New York Quarterly, Old Red Kimono, Oregon East, Owen Wister Review, P & P, Pearl, Peregrine, Permafrost, Phoebe, Plainsongs, Poem, Poet Lore, Poetry International, Portland Review, Puerto Del Sol, RE:AL, Rio Grande Review, RiverSedge, Sanskrit, Slant: A Journal of Poetry, The South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review, Southern Poetry Review, Texas Review, The Westchester Review, West Wind Review, Willard & Maple, Willow Springs, The Wisconsin Review, The Worcester Review, and Xavier Review.