Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Was A Poet And Wasn't Even Cognizant Of The Fact

You're reading the blog of a published poet -- and even weirder, I'm writing one. Although I focus on short fiction (mostly speculative fiction of late), I've managed to publish a poem before anything else.

It's called "2008 World Naked Bike Ride, Portland, Oregon." It's available now in the Summer Issue of Notes Magazine. The inciting incident of this poem is pretty self-explanatory, and I encourage you to read it should you crave additional details. Let me just give my thanks to Portland for staying weird.

As someone who does not identify himself as a poet, the process of writing this poem and getting it published has been a little exotic.

I wrote this poem as part of a poetry class I took at BYU. I only took it because they weren't offering the corresponding level of fiction class at the time, but I'm glad I did. Professor Kim Johnson gave me a glimpse into the depth of poetry, and helped me understand how to look at poems with a more objective eye. I got a lot of excellent feedback for this poem from that class.

I didn't do anything else with the poem until this year, when I went to Life, The Universe, and Everything, a symposium for science fiction and fantasy writing. There was a session called "Can Poetry Help Your Prose?" The consensus among the symposium-goers was apparently "no," as it was the worst-attended session I went to all week. But the expertise of the panel and the insights they offered were very enlightening, and I'll have to write a blog post about it sometime in the future.

One of the panelists was Dr. Michael Collings, who also had an open invitation to anyone to show him a poem you wrote, and he'd help you improve it. I decided to take him up on it, and it was very educational. He showed me what worked in the poem, what was weaker, and most importantly, how you should be thinking and what you should be looking for when trying to improve any of your poems. He was invaluable in improving my poem as well as in giving me the confidence to submit it for publication.

(A side note: I was somewhat surprised that it seemed not very many people took him up on his offer. I'd encourage anyone at a writing conference to not forgo free one-on-one instruction from an expert, even if it's a little outside their genre; it was a good experience for me.)

I used Duotrope to find markets that I was comfortable submitting my poem to. It's wonderful for managing your submissions and giving you powerful tools for knowing what markets to submit to. That's how I found Notes Magazine. To my delight, it was accepted, and now you can buy the issue that contains it.

A few words about Notes Magazine: As one who doesn't read very many literary fiction markets, I didn't immediately know the quality of the magazine. But I looked through the credentials of other authors whose work was accepted for the summer issue, and I'm glad to say I'm in good company. The other authors have also been published in the Best Australian Stories, Best New Writing of 2010, Emerson, and a ton of journals whose names end with Review. They've also won such varied contests as the LA Comedy Festival Screenwriting Competition and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

The great thing about publication is that I can vicariously take credit for other's work by having a poem in the same magazine.

Note that you can buy the issue at a Friends/Family discount. Because while I don't consider all of my blog readers as friends, they didn't offer any discounts for enemies.


Schmetterling said...

I seem to remember reading that poem during a Y Publish meeting. It was probably one of those meetings that was just you and me, and I probably handed you a clean copy of your own poem and said, "It doesn't rhyme."

I seem to remember a lot of meetings just like that....

Schmetterling said...

(this comment serves no purpose but to allow me to subscribe to future comments just in case you respond to the above comment)

Carl Duzett said...

I do remember you saying that poems didn't rhyme. Those meetings tended to lead to crazed story plots being diagrammed on pieces of scrap paper. Or, maybe just once. Good times, those.