Wednesday, April 22, 2009

These poems, they burn and hurt. And "dwelled" isn't a real word?

Have I mentioned that I love mail? Even a rejection letter. This is the proof that someone has read my poems, and though they have chosen not to publish any of them at this time, at least they read them. And I think they probably liked them. I like them.

There is excitement in opening an envelope addressed to myself in my own handwriting that I know had been sent out ages ago in a bigger brown envelope, nestled gently against the papery feel of poems. And though the form printed letter that begins with "We regret..." or some such variant can put a sad look on my face (I can feel that it's there, I don't normally open mail in front of a mirror. That would be loving it perhaps a bit too much. And in a weird way) it feels so special when that scrap of paper, since they never send you an entire sheet when half or less will do, has, scrawled at the bottom, a tiny note. This note is hand written, by a real live person, the ink smudged a little here and there, and with a real name, written perhaps in haste and always with the sloppiness that comes with familiarity, tucked away at the bottom. Oh, I love that person, whoever they are. They loved a poem or two. But...

And there is always that "but". I don't know how I feel about it. Of course, I can fix the "but" within the poem... but to be soooo close and yet, still unpublished!

One of my poems in particular received its second "but", proof I guess that I need to reevaluate it, and I will, and in fact have, and it's better for it. It's very exciting that more than one editor liked it enough to comment, and interesting that they had similar things to say about it.

I don't know what to do about the comment though "that [my] poems falter in places into the sentimental." Oy. I dwelled on this a lot yesterday.

I mentioned once that I love my poems to give me that punch in the face that the poems I love of others' give me. And I suppose that with the familiarity that I have with my own work, I feel the need for an especially hard hit, but for a first time reader, who hasn't read the poem and its million-plus revisions, it can seem like I'm trying too hard to evoke something. I try to step back from my work, but really nothing I've deemed worthy enough to send out has given me the cringe-face I envisioned this poor editor to have had. But I may be immune to my own sentimentality. It's like when you've been eating a lot of curry, so much so that you don't even taste the curry flavour anymore. You know it's there, but your tongue can no longer detect it. So each time you make curry, maybe as you're trying to perfect a recipe, you add more and more of the spice. To the unfortunate taster who has not taken this culinary journey with you, your curry would end up tasting pretty awful and way too hot when your original intent had been to simply tickle their taste buds with a wee bit of delightful curriness.

What a terrible and long winded analogy! I do think I'll make curry tonight though. And try harder (or less harder?) to write poems that simply give me a pinch, in the hopes that a reader gets the full punch, as opposed to the ass-whooping I've maybe been subjecting them too!


  1. Wonderful blog.
    I have a question? Is there really a word "curriness"?
    I like curry.

  2. Noooo, spellcheck caught that one too, but at least I was expecting it. Not like 'dwelled', though the internet disagrees with blogger there.

    Sweet potato, chicken, and banana curry! It was interesting, and good!

  3. And as I read this to your Dad, his eyes perked up, and I could see the possible start of a new variation of curry in our home. Hmmmmmmm.....