Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snowy March

It snowed last night in Roanoke. Even though there wasn't much accumulation, it was nice to watch. Something felt right walking out the Kroger with my 12 pack of Rolling Rock, watching snow fall through the lamplight. It will be gone by evening, I'm sure (both the beer and the snow).


Had a poem taken yesterday at Brooklyn Review. I'm happy to be showing up there as they publish lots of cool stuff, and heard I'll be in there with one of my classmates from undergrad (She'll be making lots of noise once she sends out for real--an amazing poet), which made me happy. The editor (let's hope she doesn't read this) gave me a number of suggested changes--a lot more than I've ever been given by an editor--most of them were insightful and helpful. I took those, though some (such as suggesting changing line breaks and cutting an entire line, the last line of a section no less) felt to me like they were a bit intrusive and I didn't take. It made me wonder about the difference between editing and work-shopping, what separates them. I always figured if an editor takes a poem, then he/she hopefully likes it the way it is, and wouldn't have you change much, if anything. But I suppose different editors have different styles. Any thoughts blog-world?


Not just a first line today, but the whole damn poem because I love it so much (but note the great first line), the candor, the grief, the plainness of language. I see those 20 book lists, and won't make one for fear of revealing just how lame my tastes are, but this book would certainly be on it:


We think of lifetimes as mostly the exceptional
and sorrows. Marriage we remember as the children,
vacations, and emergencies. The uncommon parts.
But the best is often when nothing is happening.
The way the mother picks up the child almost without
noticing and carries her across Waller Street
while talking with the other woman. What if she
could keep all of that? Our lives happen between
the memorable. I have lost two thousand habitual
breakfasts with Michiko. What I miss most about
her is that commonplace I can no longer remember.

Jack Gilbert's "The Great Fires"




That you had an editor go to so much effort to ensure your work was included... well, that could mean a lot of things. Best just to move forward, I think, not get bogged in the whys and such - consider everything synchronicity, nothing more and nothing less. Time will tell the rest.

Great Gilbert poem. If you're on facebook, I started a group page for him here:

Keith said...

Congrats on Brooklyn.

I'm not some seasoned veteran or anything, but in all my poems taken, I've never had an editor ask for changes. All I asked, however, when I needed to make changes, said I could.

I kind of feel the same way, though -- either take it as is or send me a rejection.

Then again, some editors end up making poems better. But with line breaks and such, it seems like too much of that is different for everyone. When it comes down to it, as you have to get the poems to look, sound, and feel like YOU want them. And as folks have told me, "What's really going to matter is the poem that's in your book, not the issue of the journal," so I'm always about the publication credit, and I've changed a lot of poems that have been in journals. Hence the "sometimes in different forms" note in the Acknowledgments page.

OK, I'll stop rambling...