Last I wrote here, my holy experiment was to read one of my poems aloud. Since then I have continued writing so that now, 14 poems later, I am ready to reflect on how interconnections abound.
I had my first publication of sorts on-line a few days ago when Third Sunday Blog Carnival linked my blog to theirs and featured my poem “Pushed.” This poem about buttons was a response to an open challenge at dVerse PoetsPub. Through responding to that challenge and others, I roamed many poetry workshops to interact with poets and ideas. Eventually one of them, Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads, asked me to become a member. I joined with delight as the poems and comments from poets there lived up to its mission, which reads in part:
The purpose of this writing community is to ensure an intimate and supportive environment and an improvement of our writing skills. We are always open for change and knowledge.
The name of the blog reflects its purpose. It is a fragment of a line from Marianne Moore’s poem “Poetry.” The first line of the poem—“I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle”—leads to her list of poetic crimes until she says:
. . . nor till the poets among us can be
insolence and triviality and can present
for inspection, "maginary gardens with real toads in them,"
shall we have
it. . . .
“Real toads” are to me the details that bring truth to senses.
This is the perfect workshop for me as I practice my art.
Connections help me extend my own holy experiment to see where it leads and take opportunities as they appear. Thus, a few days ago I completed an interview for the Poets United series “TheLife of a Poet” which should air soon. I didn’t refuse because it was too soon or I wasn’t published yet or any of the other ways I hide. All I have to do is continue doing what I am doing while listening to the still small voice guide me on the path.
One thing is clear: being a poet is not about making money. Poet Charles Simic speaks to this in “Poets and Money,” today’s post in the NYR blog at The New York Review of Books:
We never got rich in the past and won’t see a dime in the future. Despite copyright laws, most of our poems are already freely available to millions of people on the Internet and in this age of short attention spans, poetry may end up by being the only literature people will read. With no bookstores left and libraries shut down, lovers in need of additional romantic stimulus will have to reach for their iPhones and find a poem suitable for the occasion to read to each other. Poetry’s strength comes from such practical uses. Everyone has heard of poems being read at marriage ceremonies and funerals, but I suspect nobody has ever tried to inflict a chapter of a novel or a short story on that kind of gathering. No wonder writers and intellectuals by and large disdain poetry. “Poets work for nothing . . . .”
Simic goes on to describe the one occasion when he thought it might be about money. His anecdote is farcical in the extreme, until:
. . . one bright sunny morning I rose before anyone else, sat at my desk and read what I’d been working on, and realized that everything about them was totally fake. I tore the poems up with great hurry and embarrassment and went out to take a long walk with my dog.
He couldn’t market what working-to-order did to his poem. He, like me and the poets I am meeting now, writes with a different kind of urgency. The toads we reveal in our poems are very definitely real.