Today’s poem from What Magick May Not Alter is about love, longing, and hope. It centers on the dreams of the eldest Sibley daughter, Maggie, as she participates in the ritual of planting a daffodil at Old Wives’ Oak in the hopes her true love will be made known to her in Spring. I like this poem because I love how both Maggie and Vidalia believe in romance and the magick of the process of planting a bulb, and Lulah could care less.
I hope you enjoy it!
Since all poetry readings are canceled for the foreseeable future, I thought I would take the opportunity to read a few poems over the next several days from my new book What Magick May Not Alter.
This poem called “Catfish Moon,” named after the full moon in August (which is technically the Sturgeon Moon, but this is poetry, and we take liberties).
(Also, the picture looked backwards when I was filming it, but it’s correct when you watch the video, so forget my little “backwards” comment.)
If you like the video, or this blog, please feel free to share it near and far!
Right now, with the Corona Virus going on, it’s hard to think about anything besides that people are dying and the only thing we can really do is socially isolate ourselves and wash our hands to the Alphabet Song (or Happy Birthday, twice). But while that is true, it’s also important that we don’t lose sight of what makes us us—whatever it is that makes us feel humanity, we should try to continue to do it, even as we make health and safety of ourselves and others a priority.
For me, that’s writing. The last few months at work, I was putting sometimes 50-60 hours a week trying to get everything done, and unfortunately, what had to give was my writing. I was just too tired to work on poems, after I had been in the salt mines, and I realize now that more than just what I thought I lost (some sanity and true connection to my inner world), I temporarily lost some of my humanity. Not surprising, when you become an automaton for work. But not writing—not connecting—contributed to my anxiety and worsened my already pretty heavy depression, and frankly, no job is worth that.
I am sorry that it’s come down to a pandemic to allow me to write again—but I also feel better for the first time in several months. I’ve been writing, revising, and sending out poems to journals, and it feels like me again, a re-centering. Usually, the nudge that AWP provides in the Spring also helps my productivity, but this year the Ed. decided (rightly) that we should probably forego AWP since both of us tend to be immunocompromised. (Everyone knows all you have to do is sneeze my way and I pick up a respiratory infection.) But it was hard, not getting to chat with writers I know as well as visiting with the people tabling in the Book Fair. The energy from that is so motivating. So, I’ve just been reading the journals that have stacked up around my house, and I’ve been combing Submittable’s Discover tab, looking for new journals to explore and possibly to submit to. And, I’m finally connecting to the project I’ve been batting around in my head for months, and that feels good too.
In related news, I’m looking forward to my official release date for What Magick May Not Alter, which is April 17th. So, that makes my book an Aries (and you know how Aries and Taurus don’t mix too well 😊). But I’m excited for my book to be out in the world. I’ve sent ARCs out to several people, with the hope that they would kindly write a review, no matter their opinion. I know for a fact that one person has written one—she’s just waiting to share it a little closer to its birthday. And another person is in the process of making a YouTube review and told me that he “damn near couldn’t put it down,” so that is great news. I’m still looking for some readers/ reviewers, so if anyone is interested, please let me know and let’s figure out how we can get a copy of What Magick May Not Alter in your hands!
I know this was a short post—I’ll try to do better than write one post a year! Maybe I’ll even get back to my Wednesday posts, who knows? Until then, be safe, sequester yourself, and wash your hands. And if you believe, pray.
OMGWTFBBQ! Wonderful news, everyone! After 45 rejections, give or take, my full-length collection of narrative poetry, What Magick May Not Alter, has found a home at Madville Publishing and will be released in 2020!
Being as you are one of my Five Loyal Readers, you might remember I wrote about the collection in a 2015 blog post, after my Mom had read it and was horrified. I had no idea that it would be a full three-and-a-half years later before it would get accepted at a reputable press. (Which is to admit, it got accepted at a couple of other presses, but I didn’t have a good feeling about them, not for this book, anyway, so I passed.) Considering that I wrote the earliest poems in 2012—the book will be 8 years old when it comes out next year. I’m so in a different head space now. (But I can slip back into that world, don’t worry.)
It has been an excruciating process, over all, submitting and submitting and submitting some more, only to have the rejections pile up (not to mention all the money I spent on contest and submission fees). Anyone who’s a writer is familiar with this repeated anguish of submission and rejection—I know this isn’t unique to me. A bright spot was the 2015 Hillary Gravendyk Poetry Prize, for which it was a finalist, but even that was a long time ago.
I really had gotten to the point of abandoning it—how many times did I hear, “It’s too long” or “No one wants to read a verse novel” or some version of “It’s unwieldy—weird—just a tough sell.” (Like anyone “sells” poetry anyway.)
Even after the divinely generous, brilliant poet Ilya Kaminsky (basically a living patron saint of poetry) read through it and offered suggestions, I was ready to hang it up. I just thought that nobody really understood what I was trying to do, and maybe I should try to publish a more conventional collection of poems first. Heaven knows I have poems enough to spare to create a couple of (oddball) collections. And, I thought, maybe in a few years, WMMNA would be of interest to someone. After I had “proved” myself with a traditional book of poems.
But fortunately Madville came along—it’s absolutely been worth the wait. I’m so excited to be working with Kim Davis, the publisher. She’s been so positive and supportive and I have such a good feeling about this book coming out under her aegis. I’m just so happy.
And I can’t wait for you to read it in April next year…in the cruelest month that will no longer ever be the cruelest month for me!
P.S. I’m available for bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, and you know, just hanging-out-spontaneous-type readings… Just invite me!
P.S. #2 I still have to do a clean edit, and maybe rethink some organization, so it still needs some work, but OMG! So Awesome! Yay!