Friday, January 22, 2010

sub-mit

verb: to yield to governance or authority; to subject to a condition, treatment or operation; to present or propose to another for review, consideration or decision; to surrender.

It’s what we have to do as poets if we want anyone to read our work. No one comes knocking on our door to ask us if we’ve written any good poems lately. We have to send poems out into the ether and hope someone reads one and considers it worthy of publication in their magazine or journal. It’s a daunting process, to say the least. However, after looking at the notebooks stacked in my office and having a vision of my daughter tossing them all in a dumpster after my funeral (after she’s quickly skimmed through each searching for any hidden twenty dollar bills that is), I decided that I had to work harder to make that not happen.

The birth of a new granddaughter and the arrival of a teenaged granddaughter into my life may have been the fuel behind this decision….I’d love to have their Nana’s words in print to keep them company when I’m merely a memory…and so I’ve been hunkered down researching my best options and preparing manuscripts and writing cover letters and such. It’s way too much like having a real job to please me.

This certainly isn’t much like writing at all. It’s draining and difficult, frustrating, exciting and dreadfully time consuming. I try not to imagine a flutter of rejection letters coming my way, although that possibility is all too real.

Most of these poems are not new. As I told my friend and fellow poet Mary Ellen at lunch yesterday, “I have a more difficult time writing poetry when I’m happy.” And I’m just too darn happy these days.

I recently re-read a Carol Shields novel, I’ve forgotten the title, and the main character is a poet going through a mid-life crisis. While I’m past mid-life crisis time, there were a couple of lines that I hoped did not describe me now: “…though I still dabble a little, poetry is part of my past now. What I don’t bother to explain is that having written away the well of myself, there is nowhere to go.”

I’m hoping that now I have submitted so much of my former self in my older poems, perhaps the art of accepting rejection will stir my muse into refilling that well I feel I may have emptied.

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