There are many poets out there diligently submitting their work. I know this because I keep picking up literary magazines with amazing poems in them. Every amazing poem published equals a diligent poet.
How does this make me feel? Guilty. Not because I wasn’t diligent last year (I wasn’t), but because if I’m not willing to go to bat for my work, who is? The good news is that I’ve decided not to bludgeon myself with guilt. Instead, each week I’ve been submitting three poems to one literary magazine. This week was number eight – eight different editors (or editorial staff) with my work.
It feels good. That is, right before it will undoubtedly feel bad – because odds are, many of those poems are going to come back to me with the email equivalent of a Xeroxed slip of paper that starts out with the words “Thank you for submitting your work, but…”
Here’s where the peace and love come in – I will stand up for my poems as if they were my children. When they come back across the threshold with playground mud on their knees, I will dust them off, give them a cookie and send them back out. Poetry is the bright impossible task before me, and publishing is part of it. I don’t write for catharsis (even though it may be cathartic), I write to communicate – which implies two people, the writer and the reader. And if it sometimes feels impossible, I will remember that Theodore Roethke said, “What we need are more people who specialize in the impossible.”