Friday, May 03, 2019

poet pep talk # 786

I've been laughing all day at my own insecurities.  Sometimes I feel like my work is really good and am buoyed by a certain level of confidence in it when it goes well--the work or its readership. Whenever a door closes (a rejection for example, or a missed opportunity) I stumble a little, or even lately, not rejection per se but the feeling that no one seems to be reading or engaged or paying attention.   I think it partially has to do with social media and the endorphins of likes and hearts and how some places, like facebook seems to be occupied with crickets the past year or so.  And it's dumb, especially since I obviously used to write in the pre-internet and pre-social media vaccuum and never felt alone or ignored and unread. And it's hard when these insecurities bump up against other factors, other measures of "success" I don't even necessarily believe in--contests, fellowships, publication in fancier, wide-readership publications.  I don't pursue these. mind you, but I know enough that some of them would be like chasing windmills.

Today I clicked on a random link to a recent poem in a fancier journal (someone liked it, I'm not sure why) and reading through was kind of embarassed for the journal for publishing it.  (and kinda for the dude for writing it.) It committed the cardinal sin in my poetry church--the breaking of sentences into lines with no real "poetry" quality about it except it looked like one on the page.  Also, it was boring, and in places abstract and cliched. The venue in question misses the mark quite a bit, but this was supposed to be one of the poetry world darlings, someone who people hold up as an idol (not me, but other people).  I started laughing and literally could not stop for about 5 minutes.

I realized for every time I think to myself, question myself, that I do not know what I'm own work, even at it's very throwaway worst was far better than this sampling.  That yes, maybe I totally DO know what I'm doing and am doing it pretty damn well.  And in fact all of us--poet friends, dgp authors, the mss. I help out with --ALL of us are doing so much better than this fancy poet with our work.  If this came across my desk as an editor it would be an immediate "no" not even a "maybe."  I've met poets who have been writing for a year or less who are considerably stronger than this.  Don't worry, we got this.

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