One, two, three, clap – I am a poet. What came to mind when you read that? Aimless wandering on a wooded sunlit path, journal in hand, taking notes on the nature? Watching bees circle my “Sexy Rexy” pink rose bush, attempting to pollinate their prize – me jotting notes on scraps of paper while downing a cup of coffee at the local bakery, having eavesdropped on the young couple in the next booth discussing whether or not to get pregnant?
That’s the fun part of poetry – when you actually get to sit down and write – the creative process of transforming a fleeting thought into something others can connect with whether it be about homelessness, conundrum of mental health, whacked out relationships or waiting for the orange poppy on the front porch to bloom and how that reminds me of a Matisse painting I like.
But, there’s the whole “other” side of the poet’s life. The readings sought out, the endless mechanical submitting machine we must become, the networking with other poets, artists, and writers to stay afloat on the surface of what’s happening now. The jealousy and envy. The ego. The hustle.
It’s not unlike dancing to that KC and the Sunshine Band song. Three steps forward, clap, three steps back, clap. Back and forth. Write, submit. Write, read. Write, network. Mary got a poem accepted at the Georgia Review. Clap. Johnny is the featured poet at that one cool place you’ve always wanted to read. Clap. Betty is teaching a poetry workshop on my turf. Clap. My turf!
I received wise advise from a wonderful poet at a writing retreat last summer. She said before you do anything check to see if you are doing it for ego or craft? Don’t get me wrong; I love the hustle. And although I wish I had an administrative assistant to help keep me organized, I thrive on most of this “other” stuff.
Some days, I just wish to be one of my poems, judged only on the words I’ve strung together to make that important connection with others – readings, manuscripts, submitting poems, networking all dangling somewhere out of sight and away from the place in my heart that knows why I dance this dance.