Last Sunday night I participated in a #poetparty on Twitter moderated by fab poets Collin Kelley and Deborah Ager at 32 Poems. The questions came so fast and furious I didn't have a chance to give detailed answers. So here are a few questions I wanted to address.
1. Torie Michelle@torie_iB4e
Did you shoot for publishing a certain number of poems in lit journals before sending out your first collection? The short answer: no, I didn’t.
In reality, I didn’t have a plan about sending to journals before the publication of Underlife. And that’s fine for emerging writers (and by emerging writers, I mean writers who do not have many publications). Producing a good poem should be of the utmost importance because finding the right home for your work can be soul-crushing.
What I have done most often is taken leads from friends who have been published in online and print journals and sent my work there. I’ll also look at the writers whose books I’m reading now and send to the places they were published. Have I had success with that? Some. I don’t keep track.
Overall, I've have greater success being selective about where I send my work. I’m a big proponent of simultaneous submissions (the chances of two places taking the same poem are slim to none--seriously). I send my poems into the world … and forget about them. Again, finding the right home for your work can be soul crushing.
2. Meena Rose @MsMeenaRose
How do you define what fits together in a poetry collection? The short answer: It all depends on the work.
I don't have a definition. And I'm not sure if it's better to have poems grouped by sections, which seems to be the trend these days, or a true collection of poems with no obvious theme or arc.
For me, it takes months of working and reworking my collections to make sure the poems make sense to me. I always lay my poems out of the floor, take out the weak ones, and move them around. I want my poems to "talk" to one another. I want them to make sense as separate pieces and as part of a whole. When my collection is ready I stop tinkering with it. Once it's complete, it is easy for me to let go.
3. Russell Ragsdale@russ8u
How has blogging impacted your poetry?I’m not sure if I answered this one on Twitter.
But blogging has meant everything to my poetry. In the beginning, I published poems online and I took feedback on my poems. Five years ago, there were many poetry communities (Poetry Thursday, Read Write Poem) that encouraged the online sharing of poetry. If there were another online community that would offer the same thing, I could see myself joining. But I haven’t found one I've liked.
Blogging has always been a means to share my thoughts and views on poetry and parenthood. The scope is narrow. The moment I start looking at blog hits and page views, then it moves away from my original focus. Still, I really like blogging. I’ll stop when I’m bored with it—which I don’t see happening anytime soon.