The Poet Myron Lysenko
Part of my life as a poet consists of finding the time to become and remain organised. I take the time to save my poetry in individual files in folders organised by year and first letter of the title proper. I also add, as part of the title, an indication of its general form (rhyming verse, unrhymed formal verse or free verse) and whether it has been published.
This helps me to see at a glance whether a poem may be suitable for a given market. If someone only wants free verse, I only consider those marked as free verse; and so on.
But all this book-keeping takes time and effort to sustain, and often I weary at the thought of making a note on all the poems, in the submission tracker, and in my checklist of poems needing to be resent, as soon as I receive a form rejection. Sometimes I am so tired I want to say “stuff it….”
Of course I can always say that the simple reality is that my time is meant solely to create poetry. All this time spent submitting poetry, corresponding, keeping records, even revising and shift files around is wasted, dead time, impedimenta that stops me from writing.
But writing and the writing life is more than just putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). If we just wrote and did not try to get the work out there, whether as individual poems or collections, then that writing is effectively wasted. The poetry needs to be heard and read for it to be poetry.
Publication, whether in a national magazine or in a love letter for only one person, is essential.
Since I have written thousands of poems, and since I write more, I need those records or else I easily stuff up. Hence the massive bibliography, unwieldy as it is, hence the records, the submission tracker, the constant notes and lists and everything else. If I didn’t I wouldn’t know what has gone where, and whether it’s been acceptd by one or one hundred markets, each thinking it has first bite.
It’s the same as when you’re working: you need to take time working on taxes, business plans, the whole shebang if you run a business, or you fail and you don’t know where and how well you are going.
There are many romantic illusions about living the life of a poet. I’ve heard a lot of them, and most of them either aren’t true or don’t apply to most poets. And most of them forget there are more skills a poet needs than the ability to string two words together, and that organisation and planning are critical to any success. It doesn’t matter if you rely on improvisation and inspiration for all your verse, or if you slave over each syllable, grinding and revising unil the stone is clear crystal.
So, as I leave this post, knowing that I have to return to the days and weeks of dullness, making notes and making lists, and making sure every record is up-to-date, I want to ask one question: how important is the minutiae of daily writing, the record keeping that helps keep the poetry both flowing and organised, for you?
I must apologise for my long silence. Life, as they say, has intervened, and I have been caught up trying to juggle so many plans and demands that I have neglected my duties as a blogger.
At the same time I have wanted o reduce the amount of “look who has accepted me!” and “here are my latest pieces!” posts. It’s not because I don’t need them, it’s because I want to concentrate on lengthier, more thoughtful pieces.
I want, from this year, to post more book reviews, more meaty posts about poetry and poetics, more pieces about my interest in mental health and my looming work as a mental health peer support worker. And I want to take the time to look around, locate poetry that I love online, and share it, not in drips and drops but longer, more anthologylike pieces that bring together audio and video and text into a cluster of poetry.
In short, I’ve been thinking, and I want to be more ambitious, more worthy of being a poet and advocate for poetry.
So: good intentions time–I’m planning a post for Monday, my next middle-aged birthday.
An hourglass (image courtesy of Creative Thinkers International)
My poem “A Free Verse Rispetto on Time” has been selected as the Australian Poetry poem of the week for the week starting on the 6th of November, 2013. That’s the URL of the page, above.
I’m excited to have been selected because this is an opportunity to have my work before my immediate peers, my fellow Australian poets, and online at the same time. And it shows, also, that with work and perseverence, you too can have your poetry selected.
I have just added another poem to my slowly growing collection of files in my SoundCloud account. It is, as you will see from the URL above, the poem “Doveton North”, which had originally been published in the SpeedPoets zine, earlier this year.
I am not going into detail about how the poem relies on autobiographical detail to help develop its point. That I had lived for less than a year in the suburb of Doveton North (a suburb of Dandenong), is only a historical accident. Rather, the poem was stimulated by my reading of a piece about Doveton in a fairly recent issue of Meanjin. The result was an imaginative reverie. Only the title relies on autobiography; nothing else.
I could, of course, go on to make a general statement that only applies to my own poetic. That I will not should now be clear: I find, with my own practice, that the vast majority of my poems that reference my life depart significantly from it. So my “Under the Haunted Hills” stems not from a childhood in their physical shadows, but from a life with their name, images & mythos as an imaginative undercurrent. In much the same way that Yallourn is, for me, a haunting evocation of the impermanency of the human world, as a motif, an image, rather than the literal town that was replaced by an open-cut mine.
For me, my life is the point of departure for my poetry. My intent is that the latter should exist without me, without the biography that tempts the unwary to read my life from my poetry (and not the other way around). That is why I distrust confessionalism. I do not feel that a poem should rely on the knowledge of the poem’s life because it tempts people to read that life from the poems, not, as above, vice versa.
This is also why I have refused to elucidate further regarding the whole of the poems in my collection My Victoria. I have said that they are based in part on my memories and experiences, as well as my imagination. But I don’t want to reveal the dwarf in the machinery, so to speak, the one that makes the moves of the chessmaster of brass cogs and pulleys.
A jaguar (image courtesy of Wikipedia)
I’ve heard back from Scifaikuest regarding my latest submission there, and three of my scifaiku have been accepted. One will appear online in February 2014; two will appear in that month’s print issue.
As you may gather, I am both happy and excited over this latest set of acceptances, and I am more than happy to see that my work is getting accepted and getting out there.
It may be of interest to know, also, that lately I have been attempting to submit something every day, these last few weeks, trying to get back into the swing of things, and trying, also, to get ready for 2014, when I plan on attempting to do so until I can no longer do so.
Add to that the aim to write at least one complete draft of a poem a day, and a new poem at that, every day, and I shall be a busy fellow. Hopefully I shant run out of items to submit for a very long time.
Of course, one reason why I have had so many poems accepted is that i actually submit a lot of work. The more I have out there, the more chances that something will be accepted. The more I have accepted, the more chances of books or chapbooks being accepted. And so it goes, until I get enough together for a sizeable body of work.
Anyway, how have you been going vis a vis acceptances? Where have you been appearing?
Sargasso Cover (image courtesy of Sam Gafford’s William Hope Hodgson blog)
I know that I’m late in marking the occasion, however, I wanted to wait until I had my contributor copies so that I could verify a few details (page numbers and the like) for my bibliography. Now that I have them, and now that I’ve updated the bibliography, I am ready to tell the world….
I have two poems and one paper in the inaugural issue of Sargasso: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies. The poems are both, more or less, very brief elegies about Hodgson. The paper, however, is a twenty-page piece about his poetry. It is one of the few extended pieces about his poetry, and it will not be the first.
In a sense, the real pioneer of WHH Studies when it comes to his poetry is Jane Frank. She is responsible for the latest major poetry publications, and she has also written the major introduction to his poetry. So she deserves credit for really getting that aspect of criticism about him going.
Myself, thus far, I am more of a follower, having relied a lot, in my paper, on her introductions. Simply because so little has been written about the poetry thus far.
What’s next? I am looking ahead to the next issue of Sargasso, for which I will be writing a paper about the shared worldview in The Voice of the Ocean, Hodgson’s longest and most interesting poem, The House on the Borderland and The Night Land. here’s a hint: it involves the transmigration and purification of souls.
After that, as and when I get time, I hope (with Ms Frank’s blessing, I hope) to collect all the xetant poetry into a single volume, with relevant information and other paratextual equipment (I almost wrote impedimenta). That is because a decently-priced, readily available edition of the poetry is essential to getting some critical mass happening, regarding its wider readership and its wider study.
Morgen Bailey (image courtesy of The View from my Mountaintop)
I have just had a poem appear on Morgen Bailey’s poetry blog (that’s her to the right), “After Marius the Epicurean”. It appeared yesterday, as part of her Post-Weekend Poetry series.
She has also accepted “Kenneth Rexroth Has a Posse” for next Monday’s post. So I’m doubly chuffed!
Don’t forget that Morgen is always on the lookout for quality poetry that she can share online, so please help her, help me, and help yourself by submitting something for her blog. And, by all means, have a look at what else is on there, ok?
Positive Words Magazine (image courtesy of http://positivewordsmagazine.wordpress.com/).
Contact: Sandra James (Editor)
Email: positivewordsmagazine @ live.com.au
Sandra James (Editor)
Positive Words Magazine
PO Box 798
Heathcote Victoria 3523
Positive Words Magazine is seeking submissions of poetry and prose for the January 2014 issue of the monthly magazine. Work on the theme — Writing Groups — will be appreciated and work on any theme is always welcome. Send submissions and SSAE for response to the Editor. For further information please email; but please note that submissions are only accepted in hard copy.
Sample copies of the magazine which aims to encourage new and experienced writers can be obtained from the editor by sending $2.40 in unused stamps.
(This information is courtesy of Sandra James.)
Walter Pater (image courtesy of Wikipedia).
Website (Contrappasso): http://contrappassomag.wordpress.com/
Website (Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog): http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/post-weekend-poetry-phillip-ellis-review-of-101-ways-to-make-poems-sell/
And the answer (no surprises here) is: me!
Not only have Contrappasso accepted two poems, “After a Shower” and “The Drowning City”, Morgen Bailey, at her writing blog, has accepted a poem, “After Marius the Epicurean” (which is a found poem incorporating text from Walter Pater’s Marius the Epicurean as well as reprinted my review of 101 Ways to Make Poems Sell by Chris Hamilton-Emery.
In addition to all this, I currently have three chapbooks, one poetry pamphlet, and one full-length collection being considered by various publishers both here in Australia and overseas, and I have recently republished my Three Poems, this last one in a limited edition, numbered and signed print run of a hundred copies.
So yes, I have been busy, and my project of sending out (correction: trying to send out) at least one submission a day over 2013 continues apace.
Pippa Little (image courtesy of Diamond Twig)
“Calypso Singing in her Haunted Cave” and “Seagrass” were both accepted by The Lake for their October issue, which is now online. The link above leads directly to my poems, but please, by all means, have a wander around their site and enjoy what’s in the current issue. I particularly recommend the poems by both Pippa Little and Aden Thomas.
And please please please help out by reading The Lake and submitting to The Lake. I know how hard it can be to have a regular, small press literary magazine running, from my work on Melaleuca, and one major way of showing support is the simple act of submitting great poetry.
Thank you for your time and your patience.