Monday, April 18, 2016
Big News --- Or How I've Spent the Last 25 Years
This is post number 1,000 on this blog and I've been wondering how I was going to make it count. There are so many things in life that only garner importance depending on how you treat them. One thing the number one thousand means is that I've been keeping this blog for a long time: more than six years. I seem to be someone who goes in for the long run.
So this weekend, after 26 years of sending poems out to the world, I've finally been published in all 50 States and 1 District. You might remember a few months back, in December, I thought all I needed was a publication in Kansas and then I'd be done. Suddenly, many people I knew (or used to know) had a Kansas connection and it seemed as if a small village came out to help me secure my final state.
In fact, I have two Kansas journals that have taken work; I am now in love with Kansas.
However, on closer examination, I realized that Nevada had been ignored. Because I had published in Witness, I thought I was good but no. Witness was located in Michigan when they published my poem --- they moved to Nevada a few years later. Since this 50 States + 1 District only matters to me, it seemed silly to cheat myself out of the sense that I'd achieved a publication in every state.
And now, thanks to the Brushfire Literature & Arts Journal out of Reno, Nevada, I have made my dream of publishing in every state. After two and a half decades, one envelope at a time, and now one email or Submittable at a time, I've published poems from Alaska (thank you Alaska Quarterly Review) to Florida (thank you Florida Review), from North Dakota (thank you North Dakota Quarterly) to Washington DC (thank you Poet Lore), from my home state of Massachusetts (thank you Massachusetts Review, Harvard Review, Salamander) to my new home of Washington State (thank you Floating Bridge Review, Poetry Northwest, and Seattle Review of Books).
And now to celebrate! I've been thinking that I might have given up on publishing my work if I hadn't had this little game to play --- a way to keep myself entertained when American Poetry Review said no again. What I did, of course, is adapt the license plate game to poetry. I began with states where I'd never been, like Alaska and then just kept going. This summer I'm planning a 50 States and 1 District party. And I'm curious --- what are the ways that you entertain yourself while sending poems out into the world? How do you make this process playful rather than pain inducing?
It's bittersweet to cross the finish line. I've loved exploring the journals that are published, uploaded, appear and disappear across this country. It's heartening that every single state has/had at least one literary journal; one space dedicated to the literary arts.
This week I will celebrate with my students --- they may not care a fig for poetry (although many of them do) but they do know what it's like to have dreams. And even if you have to give yourself the trophy when you achieve that dream, it still counts.