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Posts Tagged ‘poetry world’

This one was inspired by an e-mail exchange with a younger poet who was just getting started.  She asked for publication advice, and I gave her all the usual blah-blah about submissions.  Her response was, “But can’t I just give my work to editors when I go to parties?”

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Bless her heart.  She thinks it’s a glamorous life.  Actually, she might end up on the cover of Poets & Writers.  She is very talented and is in a situation where she may meet some big connections.

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Still, I warned her about thinking in those terms.  I urged her to think about what motivates her.  Why is she writing? For applause?  Bright lights?  So she can go to parties?

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Our motivation affects what we produce.

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Many poets (myself included) love to be published.  I’m no big deal, even in the small scheme of things.  But I love when it happens–publications, awards, grants, pats on the back, free food, or whatever any kind person will give me.  A truck driver out West reads my poems to his buddies, and that thrills my soul as much as a publication does.  I love all the acknowledgment.

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If you tell me you don’t like praise, I raise my eyebrow in instant suspicion.

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I also love to come on here and tell everyone about it.  Maybe a few people will continue to read in the future.  If I ever become a big deal, will I like that, too?  You bet I will.  It’s my work, my real job.  It’s one of the reasons I was born.

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I spent over a decade not showing my work to anyone, not even family, and now I think I was nuts.  What’s the point of hiding it under a desk?  The dust bunnies and spiders don’t give a crap what I have to say.

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But if your goal is publication, you’re missing the whole point.

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Most of us are not in situations where some big wig will open an ivory tower door and invite us inside.  Many of us will die in obscurity.

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None of that matters.

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What matters is the craft.  A real poet or writer keeps working and learning, no matter what the world thinks.  No matter how tough times get.

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We should never forget the art.  Or the reality.  Or the work and the sweat.  Or the stories that need to be told.  Or the sheer pleasure of creation and communication with another human being.

When Asked By A Younger Poet

For Publication Advice

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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Stay at home and read

when all the pretty people

are at the pretty reading.

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Punch yourself in the face.

Strip naked and run through

a funeral procession.

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Dive head first off a cliff.

Sell your blood to pay the rent.

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Go stand outside a university

or a bar or a publishing house

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and ask someone’s protégé

to slam the door on your foot

every day for the next decade.

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Rub yourself with Limburger cheese

and make the folks at the clubhouse

love you just for your lovely words.

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Enjoy the praise you get today.

Tomorrow, your name will be who?

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Have this tattooed on your forehead:

Published Poets Are A Dime A Dozen.

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Never stop telling what needs to be told.

Never be satisfied with what you’ve done.

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Twenty years from now,

your mother will still love you.

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