I sent five poems to Dead King Magazine two weeks ago. A few days ago I received a lovely acceptance letter. I leaped out of my chair. I have been sending out submissions pretty regularly the last few months, processing lots of rejection letters, just waiting for the eventual good turn, and it happened.
Out of the five poems listed, they decided on two, “Waiting for the Anger to Stop,” and “A Phone Call Unanswered.” I’m pleased because they were recently written, within the last six months — and one of them within the last few weeks — which reassures me that I’m on an encouraging growth path with my writing. I’ve worried over time that I’ve lost my sense of direction, gotten rusty, clumsy, out-of-touch, or too experimental, or, worse, not experimental enough. I’ve been writing for 14 years, fairly steadily; I’ve put in a lot of time and heart. I know that writing poetry has expanded from the realm of interest, past hobby, and is now into “work” territory — where I can hardly think of doing anything else, aside from drawing.
It’s nice to see some response from that effort — even if it is just a magazine acceptance, and in the grand scheme of things as awesome as that is, it doesn’t amount to much in the scope of it all. The strange thing is, I can’t even answer why I’m sending out my poems. It’s not to be well-known, because that’s unlikely. It’s not for recognition, or acceptance, or fellow poet acknowledgements — I think it’s what I hinted at before — challenging myself and seeing what sticks. After all this time, and development, wouldn’t it be nice to know where I stand in skill?
After all, what is creative growth but pushing and pushing? Reading others who are in your field of interest? Learning, contributing among them, and seeing what comes back to you — fully-formed, or split? What is there to take away? What expansion can be had? Who sees you? Who can benefit from the words? The observations? Other people who see as you do. Other people who know what it takes to make the words work — and those people are poets — and the people who are poet lovers. I know of no other art that seeks for the distillation of truth at this intensity. And it does. Originally starting as a therapy for me — and it still is — poetry is where I turn to first. When I try to make sense, when conflict and emotions scatter in mid-air, are hard to catch and hang onto, I pin them down the best I can with poetry. It’s what I have. And it’s what I want to give to others. That peace. That distillation of experience, tangible, and distant, but close enough to look at, interpret.