You know what sucks about writing poetry is rereading old poems.
I mean, obviously that’s true of literally any writing you do: reading your old writing sucks. Cringe. Did I really write one tear rolling down someone’s cheek? Why are people always so obsessed with their love interests’ hands, and why do all love interests have “the hands of a pianist”? What does that even mean?
But the frustrating thing about poetry is that an old poem can be objectively decent, but I don’t like it anymore: I wrote it when I was a different person, in a different headspace, going through different things.
Maybe this isn’t always the case. It depends on what I’m writing about. Last April, my one poem for National Poetry Writing Month was about the way I lost myself in marriage and found myself again when I got divorced. I still like that one, except for that poet thing where I don’t like it because I’m sure it could be better but just don’t know how.
But, like, I still connect to that poem. Ditto some of the poems I wrote this April and May – poems about losing my grandparents, poems about not feeling terribly grown-up despite the fact that I’m almost thirty. So that brings me to a grand total of Five Poems that are decent and I still connect to them and I like them enough to consider submitting them to lit mags.
I have so many poems, you guys. And out of all those poems, five that I like enough to submit. That’s it. All because my poetry is really personal. All because I’m a different person now than I was when I wrote 95% of my poetry.
So that’s a big ole bummer.
Of course, I seriously stress out about letting anyone read my poetry anyway, which begs the question: why am I even worried about this? Why would I even consider submitting my poems to lit mags?
Letting people read my poetry is like singing solos: I REALLY WANT TO but also NO NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS. But also YES PLEASE??? So I stress out and then eventually give someone a peek and then get all cold and shaky and freaked out because oh my god they’re reading my poem.
But also I really want them to read my poem.
Anyway, all this is to say that I’m taking my Five Poems, braving the gaze of critique buddies, tweaking the poems, revising them, and looking into lit mags that might be interested in publishing them. So if you know a good first-time-submitter lit mag that takes simultaneous submissions and doesn’t charge a reading fee, hit a girl up.