A Taxonomy of Cover Letters

At TSR, there are two things we absolutely love about the slush pile: discovering writing so good it makes us breathless, and freaking amazing cover letters.

Oh, cover letters. After 10 years and 22 issues, we’ve accumulated a mountain of them. They fall into distinct groups: the useful (name, contact info, simultaneous submission, word count, etc.) and the awesome. The latter is bursting with sub-categories, a few of which we showcase here. We hope you enjoy these excerpts from some of the numerous cover letters we’ve received throughout the years as much as we do.


The Inscrutable

  • [redacted], the story of Eden Sherwood who has spent a lifetime burying his observations about the nature of man, brutality, God, the orgasm, and dreams in aluminum cigar tubes.

  • Please find attached 5 cartoons from the [redacted] Mag series. Is the sensitivity to eggs a physical one, or is the magazine run by an egghead, who can’t help using egg-related terminology, but doesn’t want other people making fun of eggs either. This magazine changes its image to be relevant to its call for submissions, which vary greatly from time to time. Of course, not all details can be given in such a short space. More details can be found on their eggy website.


The Intimate History

  • Retired auto worker. Still taking sports photos for local papers around [redacted], MI. Also cut up pallets to feed the wood stove, sing in presbyterian choir, bicycle, camp at sports car races, write in Starbucks (yeah, I know)….Hope you enjoy THIS one.
  • I was born in Boston, the middle of three boys, to a couple of first generation Americans of Eastern European descent. I attended boarding school in New Hampshire before enrolling at Antioch College, the nation’s first alternative college. I am a long time resident of New York City, where he [sic] moved after graduating Antioch with a degree in Theater. While in college, I spent a semester in London in a theatre immersion program.


The Children, the Spouse, the Pets, the Houseplant

  • He has a lovely wife and two wonderful sons, none of whom find anything he writes even slightly amusing. (sigh)
  • [redacted] lives in Oakland, California with her wife and assorted cats, chickens, and bees. She tries to find time to be grateful every day.
         Thanks for reading my work!
         P.S. I really like your shoes.
  • Now I live a spirited life in a very remote part of Alaska, where identifying the type of bear approaching determines whether I make myself appear large or play dead; it takes traveling over 300 miles just to get to the nearest fast-food restaurant. In my free time, I enjoy singing, snow shoeing, learning how to cross-country ski, and teaching my Pomeranians, Makana and Kismet, to skijor.
  • [redacted] enjoys reading, traveling, dancing, and playing with her stylish cat, Ms. Coco Chanel.
  • I live and work in [redacted], Oregon where I am an economist. I currently have no pets but do have a fairly nice houseplant named Morton.


The [Sic]

  • Please accept [redacted] as a candidate for…The South Hampton Review. I can only hope it does not get buried. I red about My Mistake. See? That is where I am ascribing to my own mistakes. Technically, I think that’s supposed to be me referring to your My Mistake, because you are the author. It seems a clever trick after a watchful Mischief Night and Halloween deadline. I apologize for this transgression, because style books do not address these issues.
         As an editor of Comic Fiction you likely know how convoluted these words can become so rapidly. As a journalist and writer, I fear there is no escape.
         Hopefully, the author of a book titled My Mistake can put aside a reader grappling with such issues and appreciate the utter lack of words I have left after exhausting such thoughts.


The Long

Let me take this opportunity to briefly introduce myself. I was born in the small Dutch Caribbean Island of [redacted], but I grew up on the French side of the even smaller French/Dutch Caribbean Island of [redacted]. I went to school on the Dutch side of the Island. I have published many poems in anthologies and magazines, in The Netherlands (Hacha; Huracan), where I studied, lived and worked both as a lawyer and a criminologist before moving to the United states. I have also published poems in magazines in England (in Working Titles; The Interpreter’s House; Iota; Pennine Platform; Pulsar; Deamcatcher; Fire (upcoming), The Coffee House; The Delinquent; Linkway (upcoming); Coffee House Poetry, in France, In Ireland (in: The SHOp), in the Caribbean (in: Sargasso of the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Pedras, and also in: Poui: Cave Hill Journal of Creative Writing of the University of the West Indies in Barbados (upcoming), in New Zealand (in: Fresh, Poetry New Zealand 31 and 42), Australia (The Mozzie; Social Alternatives of the University of Queensland, LiNQ of James Cook University, India (in: Poet, Kritya), in Canada (in: The New Orphic Review) and in Japan (in: The Obersever and in Poetry Kanto 23 of Kanto Gakuin University). In South Africa, Carapace has published one of my poems. In the United States, my poetry has appeared in an important college anthology, New to North America, and in various other college literary magazines such as The Ear, of Irvine Valley College, The Rockhurst Review, of Rockhusrt College, Nebo—Arkansas Tech University; Ship of Fools ----The University of Rio Grande and in: Oracle, of Brewton-Parker College. RiverSedge of the University of Texas-Pan American has just published eight of my poems in their Spring 2010 issue. Another poem of mine will be published in the Fall 2010 issue of RiverSedge. A poem of mine has also just recently been published in Yuan Yang in Hong Kong. Another poem of mine was also recently published by PostPoetry Magazine in Germany on the internet. Another poem will appear in the special ten-year anniversary edition of Cooweescoowee of Rogers State University. Other poems of mine have appeared and will appear in Aim Magazine; Struggle; Blue Collar Review, in EXIT 13; The American Dissident; in the California Quarterly, in Hazmat Review, in Out of Our and in Caveat Lector (upcoming). A poem of mine was published in the Out of Line 2006 Anthology and another poem has just recently appeared in Out Line 2009 Anthology. I also have a BA (Cum Laude) and a MFA, in Screenwriting, from the University of Southern California, where I also taught a class in script analyisis. I used to work in the film industry as a screenwriter before moving East. My screenplay, [redacted], tone screenwriting prizes in both the U.S. and in Europe. It would be a great honor for my poetry to appear once again in another wonderful U.S. University literary magazine like The Southampton Review, especially as a Caribbean poet living in exile, always living in between.


The Short

  • A man walks the streets of Philadelphia as his past unfolds into his present.

  • Please find 6 poems and a bio. It is a beautiful day, regardless; feel the joy! God bless.

  • At the morning on a playground.

  • Ever-seeking human. Entrepreneur. Writer. Teacher. Model. Red.

  • I’m 58.

Emily Gilbert