National Poetry Month is almost over.
Before we write an elegy for NPM 2011, I have four more Maryland poets I'd like you to meet.
First is Eric Goodman. Eric says he's more of a fiction writer than a poet. Tracks, Eric's novel in stories, comes out in June.
Eric keeps a writing and Baltimore literary events blog, Writeful and helps run a local readings series, Lit and Art at the Watermark.
A veteran of the slush pile, Eric sent me a group of poems with an acknowledgment that they might not make it past a first reading. All experience writers have been there.
In the poem I chose for today, Eric Goodman draws a contrast between how we feel when we're embarking on the writing life -- filled with exuberance and, hopeful confidence in our talent -- and how we feel when reality, or even just maturity, sets in.
Finding an audience for our writing takes effort. Submitting work to journals, agents and publishers takes more faith than we have some days.
Do you feel lucky, poet?
Even if you don't, take a second, like the speaker in "Submission to a Student Journal" to remember that initial spark.
Submission to a Student Journal
(from a writer who’s burning out)
by Eric Goodman
You don’t know me
but someday you will.
I know you
like the crow’s feet by my eyes—
You with your geyser talent
spewing young faithful words
Inspired lines cool off,
soak into the earth of age and detachment.
It gets harder.
Not the writing—holding on to the belief that your words matter in
a world with
one hundred thousand writers.
There used to be a show about old people
You’re too young to remember it
but I can’t get it out of my mind.
I attend the college reading
celebrating another literary journal that has
I try to mingle
but find apprehension in your eyes.
The young writer is suddenly not.
I shake your hand and want to cling to it, to
hold it until you understand,
until you can feel what I feel and know what it means to be one in
a hundred thousand writers.
On the way to my car
I see the man wearing his sign:
Will write for by-line.
The reflection fades.
I’m parked on the fifth floor.
I make twice as many circles as I descend,
words spinning in my head
as I search for
Published with permission of the author.
Writing Exercise (This one's for adults):
"Submission to a Student Journal" is a rant from an older, longtime writer who's feeling jaded. The student-editor he addresses in this poem seems like an earlier version of himself -- a geyser talent burning with words that have since cooled for our speaker.
In this exercise, let the twenty-something or teenage writer in you respond to the older author.
I am picturing myself in my NYU days. What if 40-something-poet me walked in to the student cabaret where we wrote, performed and directed short shows? What would 20-something me think of her and where she is in her writing life?