Submission Hold

Taddle Creek’s most-rejected author can’t catch a break.

Christmas, 2007 / No. 19
Photograph by Mary Williamson
Mary Williamson

Since he began submitting his fiction and poetry to Taddle Creek, in 2001, Nathaniel G. Moore—Toronto’s favourite son—has been sitting in a side headlock, waiting.

But a recent solicitation from the magazine to contribute to its tenth anniversary issue has happily caught Moore off guard.

“I couldn’t believe it when they wrote me,” says Moore. “I thought maybe someone had signed me up for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.”

Moore has submitted approximately twenty poems and seven short stories to Taddle Creek to date, every syllable rejected. After his first year of rejections, Moore took to including a Photostat of his passport, showing his Toronto birthright, along with his submissions. Still, nothing worked.

The closest Moore has come to acceptance was in May, 2003, when the magazine’s editor, Conan Tobias, told him his most recent effort was his best to date.

“I remember talking to [the associate editor] Andrew [Daley] and Conan at one of the small-press fairs, around 2005, and just point-blankly saying, ‘You’re never going to publish me are you? ’” says Moore. “They just smiled like jackals at the Keg Steakhouse.”

Despite a very clear indication he was barking up the wrong Canadian masthead, Moore, ever the anti-hero, continued to submit. But his submissions led only to more suffering.

“He’d write about Taddle Creek rejecting him in his Danforth Review byline for his interview with Camilla Gibb,” says a Toronto literati insider. “It was hard to watch. Nathaniel is a very insecure person, and I know he was in considerable pain.”

In the summer of 2006, despite being between publishers and books, Moore confidently accepted the role as host of the Small Press Dating Game, a prelude event to that year’s legendary Scream in High Park festival. Arguably Moore’s worst performance in the history of feedback, the writer-poet-heel took what many considered to be several cheap shots at one of the event’s absent sponsors: Taddle Creek.

“I think he was supposed to say that the raffle winner won a year’s subscription, and he said it was for eleven years or something ridiculous like that,” remarked one hipster who was in attendance that night. “And he did really bomb. He was so annoying.”

When confronted about the prize inflation, Moore says calmly, “Why did I do it? Because I like the magazine, and people should read it for twelve years. I didn’t do it to be rude or exploit Taddle Creek, like the festival lawyers seemed to think I was doing. And to be honest, I figured my chances of getting published by Taddle Creek were as likely as having Emily Haines in a bridal veil special-guest refereeing the never-gonna-happen steel-cage match I am trying to book with [the poet and editor] Michael Holmes at the Rogers Centre [formerly SkyDome].

“I started feeling really bad about myself,” Moore says. “Even to the point of briefly giving up the writing career and becoming a George Michael impersonator, which unfortunately wasn’t very hard to do. I thought that the magazine was practising the often-used operative known as ‘N.G.M.P.’ [Nathaniel G. Moore Prevention], a free service initiated by Magazines Canada. I believe cover stickers are available from their office.”

As for his ruined literary career, Moore says that, in all fairness to the magazine, he only has himself to blame. “It was ruined long before I ever assumed Taddle Creek would publish my work,” he says. “I realized that its consistent rejection of me was not a reflection on the quality of my writing, but in fact had more to do with a fear of me taking over the magazine, which is a fear many magazine publishers have, because I’ve dominated the magazine landscape here in Canada for so many years.”

“I’m not saying all is forgiven,” confesses Moore regarding his upcoming victory, “but it’s a start.”

Taddle Creek is quick to point out that, although Moore’s story of his inability to be accepted by the magazine will appear in its tenth anniversary issue, the magazine still considers him a rejected author, promising not to publish any piece of fiction or poetry by Moore that doesn’t deserve to be in the magazine. Which, apparently, is all of them.

Nathaniel G. Moore lives in Christie-Ossington. His books include Wrong Bar (Tightrope, 2009) and Pastels Are Pretty Much the Polar Opposite of Chalk (DC Books, 2010). He also wrote the film Macho Girls, which was inspired in part by his short story “Savage.” He once held the record as the author most rejected by Taddle Creek. But not any more. Last updated winter, 2012–2013.
  • Savage Christmas, 2009 / No. 23