Meter Money

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Our source sez:

The New Yorker poetry department receives over 1,000 submissions every week. Each of these is destined to be lovingly rejected by an intern, usually a Columbia grad student, with a carefully handwritten note. It’s understandable then that sometimes things get backed up. Really backed up. According to one of the interns, there has been a box of unanswered submissions that have been languishing in the office since 2003. Like a girlfriend who’s worn out her welcome, it just sits there, increasingly hard to ignore, but even harder to get rid of.

So it was with much fanfare that the interns were told that they were finally going to throw out the box. But first wouldn’t they be so careful as to go through the submissions and remove all the self-addressed stamped envelopes? Why? To save the stamps, of course. Yes, the poetry editor of the New Yorker had her interns cut out each and every 37 cent stamp they could find, even though these stamps on their own were useless without a two cent supplement to compensate for the 2006 cost of postage.

Midway through their task she stopped them. Touched by the hand of reason? Of common human decency? “I just wanted to make sure…neither of you has a blog, right?”

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  1. nice

    it's a good thing you guys operate in obscurity, otherwise this intern would be out of a job mighty fast!

  2. Yes,  

    How long until the first Bwog media scandal?!

  3. yea  

    was this supposed to be posted? because it seems like the party in question may get fired. there were only 2 interns in the room.

  4. Don't know much about postage  

    How do they reuse stamps that have already been used to mail stuff?

    • Nope  

      They haven't been used -- they were enclosed reply envelopes.

    • the submission process

      Postage -- they were cutting the unused stamps from envelopes with the poet's address included with the submissions. The theory is that when the New Yorker decides whether to use a submission, the magazine is supposed to notify the poet with an intern-written note inside that SASE. Only instead of letting the poets know they're not being printed, the New Yorker is just stealing their stamps. Insult to injury!

  5. Matt (not his real name)

    The service you have performed via this blog entry: priceless. As for your unpaid internship, Alice wouldn't have remembered your name in a year, anyway, even if you stayed late every day and were the best little intern in the world. How do I know this? I interned for her in the 1990s.

  6. michael james hawk

    This editor was, and is, very resourceful, in fact. The Courage Involved. I shall defend this editor for the rest of my days, so help me God. So help me God!

  7. perturbed

    where was the intern's backbone? how could she just go through with such inhumane orders?

  8. Suebob

    That is a beautiful story. For all of you who are wondering what you can do with the stamps, you can return them to the PO as long as they have not been cancelled, and depending on the flavor of bureaucrat behind the desk, they will give you some sort of refund, usually about 90%.

  9. Don

    The story's proliferating, as blogstories do...

  10. hey bwog  

    great reporting!!

  11. haha  

    all former new yorker interns know that this is not an unusually pathetic task.

  12. CAConrad

    Ha! Stick with small publishing where the real work gets done!


  13. JD

    I’m the intern quoted here --- a few nights ago at a Columbia party, I was joking with some friends over drinks about how last week I came across a handful of old dead letters and saved the stamps since I couldn’t bear subjecting them to the shredder. To the CU student who posted this version on BWOG, alas, no one was involved here but this pennywise student. No melodrama, no intrigue. A clear case of "whisper down the alley."

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