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).

    Hmm… How to Take This?

    Today, I saw in my inbox I had received a response to a poetry submission I sent off maybe 3 or so months ago.  This is what they said:

    Thank you for your interest in and submission to [Journal Name].  We are currently reading submissions and will make our final selections by the end of September.  Please feel free to contact us if you have not received a reply to your submission by October 1st.

    I  guess  it’s nice and all to  receive this, if I was wondering what was taking so long. . .  but now it’s given me false hope.  I think I’d rather they just have said, “Dear JC, um. . . no,” as opposed to this in-between fandango.  

    Editors, kindly note:  Either a yes, or no, please.  Or,  if you must “thank” me for the submission, send it as an auto-reply just as soon as I sent the poems to you.  Don’t prolong the agony, and wait till 3 months have already passed to tell me you received the submission and wil be making a decision soon.  I’ve pretty much already decided it’s a lost cause. 

    Talk about procrastination!

    Day 5 Postcard Poem: FAIL

    Alright, I admit it, I didn’t sent out a postcard today.  I’m still working on the poem, which was going to be based on Donato Creti’s The Education of Achilles by Chiron, but it just wasn’t coming.  

    I think the problem is I don’t really dig Achilles.   He had a bad attitude and a bum heel, big whoop.   Chiron is much more interesting, being a tender but strong Centaur whose interests include medicine and astrology.  So I mostly wrote about him, but the poem has too many abstract words in it.  It’s just not gelling.  

    And I would just choose another image and try to throw a new poem together, but I’ve already written the name and address of the person I was to send it to, plus stamped it.  So I’m a little bit stuck.  Chris is at his club this evening, so I plan to work on the poem some more.  Perhaps the silence will help.

    So I had been thinking that no one was sending me poems for APPF.  But today when I checked the mail, not only were there 4 postcards, there were about 400 bills, magazines, and ads.  Clearly, the USPS just hadn’t been in the mood to deliver my mail.  

    These are the authors and titles of the poems I’ve received:

    • Josie Emmons Turner, “Ella vive”
    • Andrea Bates, “Last Chair of Summer”
    • Russ Golata, “Ambient”
    • Someone who didn’t put her name, “I am 3 years now past you” (which was really the first line of the poem)

    I tried doing some detective work on the anonymous poem, by looking at the master list and counting back several days, but of course the postmark on the card (which was kind of fun because she handmade by gluing pictures from a magazine on an index card) is blurred.

    You can’t beat 4 pieces of personal mail in one day, but I think I’d rather have it spread out over 4 days just the same.  It’s hard to take it all in.

    In other news, I sent off a chapbook today (not the one I mentioned the other day where I wanted to put together “left over” poems)–this is the sixth press I’m sending it to.   What was really nice about this press was that it only had a $10 fee–which is practically a gift.   We’ll see.  I also sent a submission out to a couple of journals.  Hopefully, something good will happen.

    Alright, I’ve put off writing my poem long enough.  I didn’t forget you, Chiron, I promise.  I was just temporarily avoiding you.

    *******ADDENDUM******

    For better or for worse, I’ve finished it.  “Horse Sense” still has a lot of abstract language in it, which I hope can be improved when I bring it to the DYPS (my writing group), but the postcard will go out in tomorrow’s mail as is.  I don’t think the poem is terrible, and as I said, the last line is very good.  The one thing I couldn’t do on the postcard was space the lines in couplets–I can only fit 16 lines on a postcard printing in teeny-tiny handwriting, so the spacing had to go.