When Poetry and Drama Collide

Saturday was the July quarterly meeting of GPS–it was actually a very good day over all.  I got to meet and talk with Tammy Foster Brewer, whom I know from Facebook and whom I’ve asked to read on the Java Monkey stage at the Decatur Book Festival,  and Robert Lee Brewer of Writer’s Market and Poetic Asides blog fame.  Tammy was warm and charming, just like her online persona, but I found Robert surprisingly shy, considering all the famous people he’s talked to and his very gregarious/ ubiquitous presence online, though he was also very nice.  I really enjoyed talking to them, and I liked hearing them both read.

It wasn’t as long-seeming a meeting as it usually is; maybe for  me, I was just engrossed and glad to be away from the  meh-ness that is my life.   On the other hand, I am pretty pissed off about  about the rampant jealousy being demonstrated by several people I thought were nice.  Oh, they’ve played it off as if they’re just “teasing,” but when you hear variations on the same theme from twelve people over the course of two meetings, it stops being funny and starts smacking of unkind pettiness.  And I don’t think I’m being oversensitive or paranoid–I think several people are being ugly.

First of all, let me preface this by saying, if I come across as bragging or “I’m so much better than them,” that’s not my intention at all.  I respect and like the people in GPS a lot, and I never, ever, EVER believe people have any reason to be jealous of my writing, because that’s just not how I think.  That said, when I entered the 2009 contests, OF COURSE I hoped I would win, and, as a member in good standing, I have every right to enter.  So, I sent in my poems last October, and they sent notices in early January–and I won a First prize, two Second prizes, and an Honorable Mention.  Well, I was elated, in my quiet-I-don’t-ever-say-anything kind of way.  So when they announced the winners at the January meeting, I was barraged with congratulations… and then the muttering, snotty comments started, the first of which was (and this is a direct quote):  “I don’t think anyone should be allowed to place in more than one contest.  It’s not fair.”

This was from someone who himself placed in one of the contests, and Someone Who Should Know Better.  Let me point out, that are 6 or 7 annual contests, and there are no rules that say a person can only enter one  of those contests (which would of course prevent her from placing in more than one contest if she won).   And the comments continued from lots of different people.  Here’s a sampling:

  • “You should let other people have a chance!”
  • “Wow, that’s really great that you won, but leave some prizes for the rest of us!”
  • “I got tired of hearing them announce you as a winner. (Ha ha.)”
  • “I was  sick of seeing your name!”
  • “I wish I was as …lucky… as you are!”

The editor of GPS’s journal did say some genuinely complimentary words to me (and, to be fair, there were a few others), and I was grateful… but she too commented about the quantity of poems that I’d won for (not in a mean way, though), and I mentioned to her that I was thinking of not participating at all in the 2010 contests, and she said that she’d noticed I hadn’t submitted any poems for publication to the Member Section, and she had wondered why.  Truthfully, I was afraid I might submit a poem that could wind up winning one of the Awards for Excellence, and the very last thing I wanted to do was open myself up to more back-handed compliments and complaints.

I’m still pretty seriously considering not submitting poems to the 2010 contests.  You know, maybe I really do need to give everyone else a chance.  I really wasn’t trying to make a sweep last year… but fair is fair, right?

We’ll see though.  I can always use the money (if I win).

    11 thoughts on “When Poetry and Drama Collide

    1. JC…lovely, lovely JC…
      Negative comments reveal far more about the commenter than the recipient. I have the poem from “Akeelah and the Bee” by Marianne Williamson taped in front of me and I think you need to be reminded, oh, great one…

      Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate
      Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
      It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
      We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
      Talented and fabulous.
      Actually, who are you not to be?

      You are a child of God.
      Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
      There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
      People won’t feel insecure around you.

      We were born to make manifest the glory of
      God that is within us.
      It’s not just in some of us — it’s in everyone.

      We unconsciously give other people
      Permission to do the same.
      As we are liberated from our own fear,
      Our presence automatically liberates others.

      So, dear, dear JC…that’s exactly how I feel because you give me time and attention. It elevates my feelings of myself, too. It enlarges my borders that one so accomplished would lavish me with love and attention.

      I cherish knowing you. You soar with your wonderful talent and pooey on anyone who would try and clip your artistic freedom and wings.

      Love you truly….Elsie

      • You’re right, Elsie, I shouldn’t be airing my grievances; it does speak ill of me. But I am frustrated, and frankly, kind of hurt because it felt like I was being attacked for doing something I love–writing poems–and sharing them with people who purport to love poems too.

        But I very much appreciate that you posted that poem, and you offered such kind, generous words. You should know, I was never, ever referring to you–you are indeed one of my favorite people and getting to see you is one of the best reasons to go to meetings. And why didn’t you read a poem (or let me read one of yours)??????

        And… I love you too. xox

    2. Dear JC,

      I had no idea that you had been subjected to such snide comments. You are a wonderful poet (and person). I liked you and enjoyed your poetry the first time I met you at John’s Creek, with Bob Lynn’s group. If there are those who think you win too much, and that that is unfair, they should challenge themselves to improve their poetry rather then burning energy sniping at you.

      As contest chair I urge you to enter your fine poetry in this year’s contests. As a person who is new to poetry my take is that we (I) need your standard of excellence as a benchmark. Remember when you write, you also teach. So again I urge you to enter your poems this year, lots of them!

      Lou Jones

      • In retrospect, Lou, maybe I was being a little oversensitive–maybe they weren’t really being snide or unkind, individually… I guess it was the cumulative effect of several people saying the same thing that just got to me.

        I appreciate very much what you’ve said here–it’s very generous and complimentary, and offers a little balm to raw feelings. Thanks for that.

    3. bd, I don’t think of poetry as an ass kicking contest, but if envious people do, I say, Put on your Doc Martins and give them an ass kicking they’ll never forget. pd

    4. Dear JC,

      You might be interested to know that Tammy Foster Brewer has agreed to judge the Langston Hughes category for this year’s contest.

      I hope all is well with you and you’re organizing your entries for the contests.


    5. JC,

      First, thanks for having us! (And yes, I am rather shy in person.)

      Second, don’t let other people’s comments keep you from pushing yourself. Success often helps you find more supporters, but it can also make people jealous. There’s no way to get around that, and you shouldn’t have to apologize for writing winning poems in contests with impartial judging.

      Keep at it!

    6. Dear JC,

      I’ve completed my review of all contest entries and was disappointed that you didn’t submit anything this year. Regardless, I hope you are continuing to write your beautiful poetry.

      Take care.


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