When I first started writing poetry again back in the spring of 2012, I posted rough drafts of poems on a hastily constructed WordPress blog mainly to hold myself accountable for writing something every week (preferably every day). I never thought anyone else would read my work, which I was very shy about sharing at workshops and in writing groups. Then, when strangers started commenting on my poems, I was shocked, but still pleased that at least they were only known to me online. There was a lack of reality or of consequences there, or so I told myself.
Daring to bare myself to critique or submit my work to literary journals or participate in competitions… wow, that took much, much longer! It’s still something I am somewhat uncomfortable with, but I push myself to do it. Why?I’ll be honest – my long-term goal is to have a set of poems good enough to publish in a volume. But along the way, I’m enjoying the journey.
I suppose there’s some element of wanting recognition – of course, there is! But above all, I want to learn and improve, which is what keeps me coming back to dVerse again and again (although everyone tends to be very nice and polite about my poetry here). There’s nothing like seeing your poem in print or having to read it in front of an audience – and seeing them react in all the right places. Also, learning to deal with rejection is character-building. The first few months of sending material out, I would be devastated by each rejection. It would take me days to recover. Now, when I get a ‘thank you but no, thank you, not for us’ email, I think: ‘Hurray, that frees up those poems to send somewhere else…’
On the other hand, at the end of last week I read an article in the New York Times about poets who are becoming internet phenomena, publishing only on their own blogs or Tumblr or other social media sites. They have no MFA, no literary awards, no poetry collections to sell, but their poetry has an emotional appeal and immediacy which wins them thousands of loyal followers. That is encouraging news in an era when poetry has been so often pronounced dead (or elitist).
I would love to hear tonight what you think about sharing your poetry with others, whether you participate in competitions, whether you submit to journals and other literary sites or if you are patiently building up an online following. And, however you feel about it, I would encourage you all to take part in this poetry competition over at Shiny New Books site. It’s on one of our favourite themes, after all, and it’s free to enter, which so many competitions aren’t nowadays.
Calling all poets out there! We are looking for original poems of no more than 25 lines on the subject of‘Reading’, and you can interpret that as widely as you like, feel free to be innovative. Our deadline for submissions will be 1st December 2015, and we’ll be announcing the winner in our Winter edition in late-January.