I’ll take it

January 1st, 2010

2009 was the year I decided to take myself seriously as a poet. 2009 was the year I gave myself permission to try. 2009 was the year I made some writing goals, made them specific and public the better to hold myself accountable to myself.

By my reckoning I made a good year of it. I did not write fifty-two poems but I wrote forty-six things that I am able to call poems under my bizarre internal standards and I’ll take that. I wrote a lot of things that went nowhere, and I’ll take that too, and in the process I learned something about saving the two lines that seem worth saving and moving on and I’ll take that most of all. I sent out fifteen packages and in the end had eight poems published in five journals (with two submissions still pending): my novice self will very much take that, thank you. I subscribed to or requested sample copies of a few new journals, and though I’d love for it to be journals-a-palooza around here, the logistics of the back-and-forth communication about how much extra the journals cost when shipped overseas (because I know journals run on tight budgets and want to be sensitive to this point), and the growing on-line availability of back issues, made it easy for this one to slip by the wayside. I lost count of the poets I added to my collection and am too lazy to go to my studio shelves to figure it out. Suffice it to say I am better read now than I was one year ago. I did not attend a writers’ workshop.

Now it is 2010 and my writing goals are much the same:

  • Write (at least) fifty-two poems this year
  • Send out (at least) twelve packages
  • Attend a writers’ workshop (I’m already registered for this one am applying to one very ambitious one and one slightly less ambitious one Stateside). 
  • Continue to read, read, read. Read more, read more widely, read more critically, read more openly. Read more stuff I never thought I’d read. Read more stuff I’ve already read. Read more stuff I don’t like. Read.

My writing life had a good year. My writing life passed the test I had set up for myself: give it a year and if at the end of the year something from the year is still glimmering, then give it another year. And things are glimmering. I’ve published some pieces that I’m proud of, pieces I think I’ll still be proud to have my name attached to a year from now and a year from then. I’m reading more poetry, and that’s just good for a person’s heart. I’ve found a thing outside of me, outside of my small boys, that is hard and shiny and good. That is mine. This is me, now, this fresh-baked stumbling poet. Maybe not, as Bethany so perfectly put it, for a living, but for a life, yes. For a life, this stumbling poet is me, and I’ll take that.