I just completed my fourth book of poetry. Ok, let’s let that sink in for a bit. My fourth book of poetry. How in God’s name did I end up having that sentence be true in my life? It makes me laugh with it’s pomposity and audacity. They’re all self-published, because I don’t want to go through the process of having someone professionally reject my work. Criticism of my feelings put into words is just hard to take, and since I don’t really have any kind of editorial process (it is what it is, usually), what could I do to change it if someone didn’t like it? Not much…it has to feel right to me, and that’s the bottom line.
So, if all that’s true, then why am I taking this risk and going for a contest that I have no hopes of winning? None whatsoever. But the thought of entering just sends me into giggles every time. I tell someone about the contest and I can’t help but laugh, at its pomposity, at my own audacity. It’s a poetry contest for mid-career poets, which evidently, with my fourth book, is me. I’m mid-career. Wow. Ok, letting that sink in for a minute. Moving on. It’s hosted by one of the top graduate schools in the country, which requires that if you win, you have to travel on your own expense to their campus to be their poet laureate. Ok, it helps that it’s within driving distance of my house, sure, no problem there.
And the first prize, the only prize actually, is $100,000. A ridiculously high amount of money, insanely high. Where else can you possibly win that for writing poetry? So I’m sure that every actual professional poet in the country (all those English professors and actually published people out there) send in their work every year, and it much be incredibly competitive. So I have no shot at all.
But I’m taking it anyways. Fourth book is done, I’m waiting for the proofs to arrive in the mail now. Screw the proofs – let’s just approve this sucker, publish it, submit it, and get going with this thing. I’m in it to win it…feeling like the ant climbing up the rubber tree plant, but I’ve still got my high hopes!