I’ve been recently challenged about why I don’t pursue publication. I don’t have a published chapbook, not even a self-pubb’d one. Why bother? There’s few who read poetry, many who write – but they want you to read THEIR pomes. In many venues, the act of “getting published” is quite expensive; these days submission costs for “reading” begin at $35. It’s rare that you find a source which recompenses your submission fees with a subscription or tickets to an event. And just trying to manage the submissions, researching the various publishers is exhausting. Have you ever hefted the Poet’s Market around before it became electronically available? It was heavier than a phone book.
And the readings, the slams… oh, nobody will buy the chapbook there. It’s not like a local band or busker where people will pick up your home burnt CD for 10 bucks and then share it on Spotify. While some of the performances are great, I’ve never been admired for my reading voice or ability to “emote”.
What all this means is that I cannot speak to the “how” to get well-published or recognized. It’s a “thing” for sure. The annual Poet’s Market by Writer’s Digest has advice and addresses, so getting published happens. In my more jaundiced moments, it often seems to be the same old names – I mean, who doesn’t whip out a Maya Angelou or a Charles Bukowski. And cherished though they are, I wonder where are the new Sandra Cisneros? or a not dead Seamus Heaney? I miss Exquiste Corpse (1983-2015) and I cannot keep up with the variety of online venues. I’ve got a job to do and figuring that mess out isn’t it.
Fresh Nettle (Poets Who Aren’t Dead)
I read Patricia Lockwood when she was 19 and posted on a bulletin board in 2001 under a pseudonym. Her piece hit us all like a baseball bat striking a well-pitched summer tomato. Her newest release, Priestdaddy, is a memoire and a demonstration she grew to understand “the ways” “around, or through…” that I will never explore here on Nettlesting. Chaos & The Big Bang bless her and her “Rape Joke“.
Another writer who came from the poetry boards of the early 2000s and learned to navigate the realm of literary publishing is Jee Leong Koh. He’s been blogging consistently since 2005. He also unashamedly posts his own work there. And, as April is National Poetry Writing Month, you’ll often find his unedited work in those months.
So, if I don’t share my work here on this blog, where do I? Well, being as I’m inconsistent, it’s spread across a variety of boards, sources, and whatnot. Currently, I’m working on a submission for Seattle’s Erotic Art Festival. I had five pieces picked up there in 2015, but as I’m inconsistent, it’s taken until this year for me to get my act together for another five to submit. On the Erotic Reader’s and Writer’s Association, I’ve several pieces which have been added to the Treasure Chest. I’ve even recorded a number of pieces while I was poetry moderator on the ERWA’s email discussion list. My soundcloud account has 10 of my pieces here. I work rough drafts on another site as well, but take those off. I also respond to exercises posted the 6th of every month by Ashley Lister. Not only are they inspirational, but the focus he makes on the technical details of the craft mixed with the focus on erotic poetry is what I love to write about as well.
But here is one of the pieces previously published and to which the rights returned to me in 2017.
The nipple popped from her daughter’s mouth. Brown
and seemingly round as a penny, it looked as long as the end
of his little finger. While he’d fondled his share of breasts
before, he’d never seen one with a drop of milk forming
at the crest of the tip. His mouth felt empty, dry after
working in the sun all day. He could not look away.
She looked up to see her neighbor stopped at the gate
of her backyard. He’d come around, must have finished
mowing the hay of her front lawn. He was frozen in his frown,
but golden and rough as her field; the hair on his chest glinted
in the sun. She stood, laid her daughter down beside the glider.
The shade of the back porch was warm with August.
She’d rocked the afternoon away as the baby fed, listening
to crickets instead of gates leading to back yards. She straightened,
pulled her shoulders back and stretched, for the first time aware
of the weight of being a woman as it pulled at her shoulders and back.
Her nipples grew erect at the hunger she saw in his face. She sat
back down. He kneeled before her. She was summer.