Judging the Beauty Pagaent

It’s “crunch time” around here. In the next four days I must select 15 poems to be dissected and hopefully, like a beautiful mosaic, glued back together as stronger versions of themselves during my summer residency at Ashland. The important thing is to select poems which have some “wiggle room”– the ability to change and grow. Much of what I write feels very finished after the first draft. The writing isn’t great yet, but like my personality, it ineffably is what it is, and no amount of tweaking fundamentally changes anything.

I am thinking of starting a nonfiction piece entitled “How to Get Anyone Besides Your Husband Who is At This Moment Terrified of You to Take You Seriously During Menopause.”

Yes. Good luck with that. Truthfully, The Change has not even started for me, but at 50, I am at that age where no matter what I do and say…that is the overriding assumption. Works great unless you are attempting to accomplish something outside of yourself like publishing a book of poetry and earning a MFA degree. We all know poetry is never written outside of one’s true self.  I am just finding that for 50 years,  I have been parading around as a fictional character…no wonder success hasn’t followed me like a bloodhound!

It seems, even in my inner circle of friends and family, I have attracted a bunch of wing-clippers. (That sounds so menopausal, doesn’t it?) Perhaps more accurately I have focused too intently on being the wind beneath everyone else’s wings. I take responsibility for this. After all, I trained them. I do believe we lay little bread crumbs of instructions (nonverbal and verbal, in thought and action) which teach others how we want to be treated while they are on their merry ways to us. Some of us know we deserve more, but at the same time, feel that we don’t.

A little at a time, I am feeling more secure in who I really am. I know I have a voice and that I have always had one. I am beginning to believe if I find the right audience, my voice will make a difference and will be heard. I can’t spend all of my time keeping other people in the air only to be told when I exhale that I am a Debbie Downer. I am excited to develop through Ashland University, a group of support persons who take the writing of poetry as seriously as I do.  Now I must begin to select the 15 beauties who will make this trip with me.

New Submissions

Yesterday, I endured the tedium of going through the collection of poems on my hard drive (for many of these poems the DELETE button would be a mercy-killing but I can’t help but hope for them). I selected four poems to submit to a new online literary journal which is affiliated with my former graduate school.

Speaking of graduate school….today I am going to click the appropriate boxes and accept an offer from Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio, to enter the MFA Poetry program this summer.

I look forward to connecting with other poets at the two-week residency and to working toward the goal of a masters degree. Most of all, I look forward to growth and improvement as a writer.

No man is an island. John Donne was right. No writer is an island either. To publish a manuscript of poems will require hours each day of solitude, but let’s face it, when we writers are with our non-writer friends, we are always reaching out to them from our islands, our writer-worlds. We need a community of other writers, other “weirdo’s,” to affirm that we are indeed doing what we are supposed to do with our time and our lives.

Besides, revision not  only loves company, it must have company, a community to tell us our word-choice is suspect, our crafting of the poetic line is mish-mash, our concept is limping along on too many crutches.

Let the critiques begin!