Bits o’good news

Cat playing with writing pen

Tamarin helps me write.

I always feel weird announcing good news online, but then when other folks announce their good news I’m happy for them and glad to know about it, so.

I’m pleased and grateful that the editors of Sweet have nominated my poem “Night Language” for the Pushcart Prize. From their Facebook page:

Sweet is honored to nominate some of the amazing pieces we published in 2012 for the Pushcart Prize (the only hard part was deciding amongst all the terrific work): Laura McCullough, “What a Good Dog Knows” (essay); Jocelyn Bartkevicius, “Ice” (essay); Liz Kicak, “Summer Sky” (poem); Anne Haines, “Night Language” (poem); Todd Kaneko, “We Sleep Like Horses” (poem); Jennifer K. Sweeney, “Call and Response” (poem). Much thanks to everyone for sharing their mind-blowing writing with us, and for carrying the light of words out into the world.

Don’t get too excited; hundreds of poems get these nominations every year and only a few are selected for the anthology – the odds of that are very long indeed. But it is nice to find out that your poem was one of the ones that not only appealed to an editor enough for them to want other people to read it, but that also stuck in their memory at the end of the year. So yay, and thank you to Sweet!

Also got word today that New Mexico Poetry Review has accepted one of my poems for their spring issue. Always fun to have something to look forward to, and always nice to get a “yes” instead of the more usual “no”!

I don’t post about the rejections when I get them, but trust me, I get my share. After all these years, I don’t mind them much – there’s the occasional one that makes me say “awwww, man!” but beyond that, it is just not a big deal. If you send out work long enough, you begin to realize that the editors aren’t rejecting you personally, but the work itself. (And even then, there can be a billion reasons why they don’t take a particular poem; it doesn’t mean it’s a terrible poem – I’ve had editors enthusiastically accept poems that had been rejected a dozen or more times. It might mean the editor had read sixteen volcano poems that afternoon and yours was the seventeenth and they couldn’t get past “good grief, not another volcano poem.” It might mean one of your line breaks struck them wrong and they couldn’t get past that. Or, you know, it might even be a terrible poem – there’s not a poet alive who hasn’t written tons of those and most of us occasionally get confused about which ones are good and which ones aren’t!)

And I think being able to get that distance – realizing that your work is not your self – is crucial to maturing as a writer. Yes, your work comes from a deep place within yourself. But it also comes from craft, and time, and labor, and luck. And the fact that all of those ingredients don’t gel every time doesn’t necessarily make you a bad writer, much less a bad person.

You can call it “developing a thick skin” or you can call it “distancing yourself from your work” – in any event I think it’s good for a writer to figure out how to do this. It can mean the difference between being a writer who feels she has to pour out her soul onto the page every time and then not change a word because “that’s just the way it happened!”, and being a writer who uses her heart and her skill and her craft and her experience to make a thing that can be sent out into the world on its own merits.

Now if only my poems would go out and get a job. And maybe cut their hair and stop wearing those ripped-out jeans all the time….


Filed under poetry

2 responses to “Bits o’good news

  1. Ah yes – distancing yourself from your poems – good advice. Thanks for sharing your successes & unsuccesses, a poet after my own heart!

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