[This post updated occasionally]
[update May 2023]
This piece seems so dated now, but it still traces my creative writing journey. Although I am a “minor” (rather than “major”) poet, I am nonetheless a poet, having been honing my craft for years now, and I will continue to do so. Apropos of that, I’ve updated my list of publications that appear at the end of this entry.
Meanwhile, here are my initial thoughts on the subject:
During the pandemic in December 2020, just around the time I realized I was going to be celebrating my seventy-sixth birthday, I decided to turn being shut-in and locked-down into something positive and constructive: I started to write again. I mean, to write seriously. It was something I wanted to do from around age twenty. It was something I had decided—by age twenty-one and graduating from college—was not possible to do. I needed to pay rent and eat. “Writing” was not a career but an avocation. It would have to wait.
I became, quite by accident rather than design, a teacher, specifically a college English teacher. It was, in fact, a perfect fit for me, as if I’d prepared for it. It was exhilarating to share knowledge. More, the preparation (which involved a good deal of study and research) made me a part-time “scholar,” and I truly loved this aspect of pedagogy.
My writing wasn’t forgotten, but it took a modest place in my life. I did all my writing in my spare time and in the most private of places, a journal. In my student days, I would often type my fiction and poetry onto sheets of paper, as if preparing a manuscript for presentation. It was a process that required time and attention: compose a work in a journal, transfer it, via typing, to 8×11 paper, and in the transfer, edit, rebuild, reconsider the work. Then, if satisfied, place the work proudly in a folder. The folder never “went’ anywhere; it was simply the physical manifestation of my creative work. The idea that I was (or, could be) a writer had been encouraged by professors who saw in my writing “great potential” which, they warned, needed “discipline.” I was flattered and heedless; in other words, I was young.
After teaching, marriage, a child, writing seemed less important to maintain; it seemed, in fact, a luxury when considering the time that was required to teach, to be a wife, to be a mother. In addition, teaching absolutely required more academics from me; I had to add to my responsibilities a full graduate program. I won’t say I ever resented it; I never stopped loving being a student. And this involved writing papers for classes, a master’s thesis, a doctoral dissertation—writing that had no relationship to the writing I once loved: short fiction and poetry.
Back to the recent past. At the end of 2020, I discovered on a shelf in a closet a large box of journals. They spanned a period from 1963 to about 2018. Around 1969 or 1970, the journal entries were sporadic at best, mostly brief, and sometimes more like diary entries. From 2016 to 2018 or so, a tragedy in my life—the death of my only child—drove me back to writing, but this time as catharsis. Writing words, creating sentences, shaping a piece into a poem, were all acts of self-survival: I could live with this crushing grief as long as I could somehow harness it into creative expression. It was sometimes as if putting the expression of grief onto paper somehow separated it from me, allowed me to live momentarily free of its terror and anguish. In that period, writing was salvation.
That box of journals was a curiosity to the seventy-six year old me. Who had I been through all those years? My first instinct was to find a way to utterly destroy the box; simply throwing it away wouldn’t do. Trying to shred those thousands of pages required tiresome hours. Burning them seemed the only solution, but I didn’t have a furnace and, where I lived, burning anything outside (even leaves) was verboten. I had no solution, so I decided to simply sit down and read the journals.
It took me a good number of days to get through them. The most prolific period of writing took place during my college years. It was clear that the encouragement and urging of professors to “write because you have talent” contributed mightily to my devotion to those journals. They were, as expected, accounts of what was happening to me, but much more—they were attempts to analyze, synthesize, comprehend, and understand the significance of those experiences. Before I’d finished looking through those journals, I had subconsciously decided: I am a writer, and like a prodigal wanderer, I had finally arrived where I’d started.
So fully inspired by this “revelation,” I wrote a seven-hundred-page novel in three months. Now, almost a year and three revisions later, the novel has been made into a manageable three-hundred-plus pages and is undergoing its fourth revision. It may see a “finished” state by early next year. In addition, I have returned to the kind of writing that is my first love, poetry. I write, I revise, I write, I polish, I listen, I revise, etc. It isn’t a process that ever stops; it only improves. And I wonder, why did I have to wait to be in my seventies to be brave enough to submit my writing to the publishing process? I’m certainly most modest than I was at twenty, and a lot less worried about “what people will think.” Disappointments shape a good part of our lives; they generally hurt less as we get older. Nevertheless, a submission accepted for publication is still a matter for celebration and gratitude that someone has understood how I feel or has felt exactly the same way.
As of May 1, 2023 [more than 50 poems, 1 essay, 1 chapbook finalist, 1 historical novel excerpt finalist, 4 reprints]
Published or accepted (printed poems are not available online)
- [online] In OPEN: “Cutting Back” and “Warnings” (July 2021)
- [online] In Brevis: “What Is Not There” (July 2021)
- [in print] In Oberon (issue 19) “Rocking Chairs” (Winter 2021)
- [online] In The Woolf: “Bastille Day 2021” (Winter 2021)
- [e-book] In Vultures & Doves (Valiant Scribe): “Nocturne No. 2” (Winter 2021)
- [online] In The Ekphrastic Review: “What Hides” (31 Dec. 2021)
- [online] In Fauxmoir: “Aspiration” (debut issue 21 December 2021)
- [online] In Apricity: “History 1961”
- [online] In Evening Street Press & Review: “Hungarian Rhapsody,” “The Baseball Mitt,” “No Word,” and “Nocturne No. 3: Little By Little” (early in 2023)
- [online] In Neologism Poetry: “In Glory” (November 2021 issue)
- [online] “Eliot Then and Now” (a personal essay) in Exchanges (Autumn 2021), ed. John Caperon, the newsletter of the T. S. Eliot Society (UK)
- [in print] Nothing Divine Dies, The Poetry of Nature of Vita Brevis Press: “Age” (December 2021)
- [online] in New Note Poetry: “One Long Night In New York” Winter 2021
- https://simplebooklet.com/nnpwinter2021#page=51 for my poem
- [online] in the Decadent Review: “Again and Again: Philomel” (23 Dec. 2021), “Cauchemar” (24 March 2022)
- [online] in Provenance Journal: “Unpronounceable,” “His Journey,” and “Late Winter in Connecticut” (Dec. 2021)
- [print] in Cerasus Magazine: “Winter Roses” and “I Stole Pictures” (Winter Special Edition Jan. 2022)
- https://cerasusmagazine.com/ and for sale at https://www.amazon.com/CERASUS-Magazine-Winter-Special-2022/dp/B09RG2M1WZ/ref=sr_1_2?crid=AZ5MXA8QVXBI&keywords=cerasus+magazine&qid=1644855376&s=books&sprefix=cerasus%2Cstripbooks%2C88&sr=1-2
- [online] in Native Skin: “Coming To America” and “Young Woman’s Song 1968” (Issue 3, Feb. 2022)
- [print] The Poeming Pigeon (published by The Poetry Box): “Permanence” (Fall 2022)
- [online] in Library Love Letter: “Bookish” and “If You Would Know Me” (February 2022)
- [online] in Poetic Sun: “Correspondence” (March 2022)
- [online] in Multiplicity: “Winter Solstice” and (accepted & to be published as a reprint) “Winter Roses” (published as “Against The Grain”) and “Coming To America” (published as “Heart of a Father”) – published in Summer 2022 (issue 4) and part of an online poetry reading
- [online] in Etched Onyx: “Ylang Ylang,” “Confusion,” “Fade,” “Morning,” and “Old Friends” – published in Spring 2022; also podcast (see link)
- [finalist] in Kallisto-Gaia Press Saguaro Prize 2022 – chapbook Dead Men Tell Such Tales
- [online] in Hawai’i Pacific Review (May 2022) – “Once”
- [print & online] in Brushfire (May 2022) – “Waking”
- [print & online] in Slab – “Nothing Lasts Forever” (p. 23) and “Permanence” (p. 13) [reprint](Issue 17, Nov. 2022) This is Slippery Rock Univ., PA
- [fiction] one of four finalists in the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest in Historical Fiction 2022.
- [online] in Wrath-Bearing Tree Literary Magazine (April 2023) – “Naught,” and reprint of “Accident Survived”
- [online] in Young Ravens Literary Review (Issue 17) – “Being Old”
- [online] in riverSedge (Issue 35,Winter 2022) – “Disposable”
- in The Hyacinth Review – “What Is Not There” (March 27, 2023, reprint) and “Spirit” (January 13, 2023)
- in ellipsis. . . literature and art – “A Comic Dialogue” (April 21, 2023)
- [online] participation in online Poetry Reading, “At Any Age” hosted by Baypath Creative Writing Program – November 16, 2022. One of six writers invited to read from work published in Multiplicity, Issue 4. Poems read were: “Heart of a Father,” “Winter Solstice,” and “Against the Grain.”
- [online] in The Courtship of Winds – “A Quartet of Etudes” and “Ergo Sumus” (Winter 2022)
- [print] semifinalist in Brick Road Poetry Press Book contest (Jan. 2023) for manuscript “Lessons From the Garden, Love, and History”
- [print] “Gifts” and “Kneading” in the Spring 2023 issue of El.Portal
- [print] “Getting Here: The Bronx to Austin Texas” chapbook semifinalist in Eggtooth Editions Chapbook Contest (March 2023)
- [print] semifinalist in Elixir Press Book contest (Jan. 2023) for manuscript “Lessons From the Garden, Love, and History” (April 2023)
- [print] semifinalist in Wolfson Press chapbook contest (April 2023) for manuscript “Getting Here: The Bronx to Austin Texas”
- [print] “At A Party of Mourning Doves in Austin Texas” in August 2023 issue of Connecticut River Review