If writing for publication is the goal, what part does the un-submitted poem, or article, play? I am not a famous author, I am not well known. I wouldn’t recognize a literary circle if one pirouetted on ice in front of me. I am a poet, who through my own fiction, feels connected to the eons of past poets I have stumbled upon in my turning over rocks to find the nuggets way of doing things. I dismiss what I can’t approach. Academia intimidated me, or maybe just bored me to tears. Even today, some fifty years into the game, I am stunned by the nebulous.
I spend quite a bit of time imaging my tombstone will read, “Well, some people liked him.” I write stuff that I hope my dead parents would understand. I aim for plain and occasionally garner the eloquent. I can make a page come alive, maybe not this one yet, but I have a few paragraphs to go. The most telling writing advice I embraced was to focus on bumper stickers, or perhaps T-shirt slogans, since that seems the best indicator of popular culture’s attention span. Is not Twitter is based on this principle?
Maybe the spirit of haiku is stirring me to be concise, pertinent, and naturally ethereal, or supernaturally earthy. It’s usually a question of comma placement. I live eleven miles from the nearest bookstore that carries poetry magazines. They stock three titles. The owner informs me they sell half a dozen copies with out fail, every month. It’s a college town which explains the booming business. A few blocks from the store two kids with typewriters and a fold up table offer, “Free Verse Only $1” I bought two, only one typo.
My bride points out it doesn’t appear I enjoy writing. I hesitate before not answering. Playing music, even at my level, offers an immediate sense of fitting into, or at least neighboring, a community, a history, a future, a timeless sense of swinging on a star. Writing, I suggest, is as much an infliction as a gift. The letters behave themselves and fall into line. The meanings, the subtleties, the nuances emerge, or they don’t. The point is made, or the shot to the heart is blocked. The audience, the feedback, the response in kind is something I usually let trail off like a floating cloud over the ocean. If it rains, I get wet, if it passes by, or disperses, well that’s what clouds do. I did my part. I improved upon the blank page.
Getting it out there never automatically stemmed from getting it down. I missed the memo about memorializing and retrieve, from my mailbox, the returned SASE with the note that informs “unsolicited submissions will be returned, please see our website for guidelines.” I may be happier when I learn the online ropes of getting noticed, reviewed, and paid, or maybe I’ll pull up a chair on the sidewalk. “New poems. Old soul ”.