To Strive, To Seek, To Find, and NOT To Yield

The extent to which my poetry “career” resembles Becky’s gymnastics one can occasionally border on the uncanny. If I were a believer in a supreme being I might claim that some deliberate force has aligned us thus in order for me to be better able to succor my child in moments of need. As I am not, I will call it the kind of non-coincidence which arises because, for most of us, life is a series of struggles and disappointments, punctuated by the occasional ray of sunshine through some small achievement or success.

All of which is a round about way of saying that Becky did not perform outstandingly at the State Championship, and nothing particularly good has happened to me with respect to my poetry ambitions lately either.

Becky was nursing a bruised heel (I’m not sure if *I* have an excuse), but nevertheless Becky on a bad day is better than many young gymnasts on a good day. She managed these scores:

Vault: 8.9
Bars: 8.3
Beam: 9.375 (8th)
Floor: 9.25 (Just missed a place)

The challenge for her now is to rise above this and continue on to Level 8 undaunted and, even, re-invigorated. Of course, she’s eleven, and that’s tough.

I’m forty, and I know of what I speak. Sometimes I feel like just packing it all in myself. It seems as though I’ll NEVER get my book manuscript published, or get a poem into any of the venues I most desire, or succeed with any of the time-consuming applications for jobs, awards, grants, residencies, colonies or scholarships that I pore over.

I console myself with editing: the Barefoot Muse goes from strength to strength. (Would you believe I have ALREADY reviewed almost 300 poems for the June issue, for which the reading period does not close until May 15?) And John Oelfke assures me contributors should have their copies of Raintown any day now, plus we have big plans for upcoming issues.

And of course I keep writing poems. January has produced a bumper crop after December’s drought. Needless to say they are mostly my usual unfashionable formal pieces. If only I could learn to appreciate the poems for what they are themselves, rather than force them into being unsuitable vehicles for my ambitions.

Well, let’s not leave this on a down note. Yes, I could give up, but I choose not to. The only way to know for sure you aren’t going to get anywhere is not to try. I wrote a poem last week about learning to see the journey as the goal in itself. Now all I need to do is put that into practice.

One Comment

  1. Well I for one am delighted to see that I am no longer the ONLY ONE I know who reads or is even aware of Tennyson. In truth, it was was a line of his from one of the Idylls (forget now which), a line that goes roughly “In that hour when the stork stands upon one leg”. All of a sudden, I had a clue what poetry was capable of. That was about thirty years ago. Following that I wrote like a fiend. Formally. (The poems, not the fiendishness). For about three or four years, then felt my muse had left me, and dropped the whole versification thing for prose, songs, art.

    I’m back in poetry now, older, wiser, and less concerned if my book is ever found.

    Dave Hirzel

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