Time for the next round

For those unfamiliar with what is now the standard way of getting a first (and at times, second and beyond) book of poetry published, let me spell it out for you with as little frustration and venom as I can muster.

It's a contest. You put a manuscript together, print it, sweat over the poem order, stick it in a large manila envelope with a check ranging from $10 (AWP contest if you're a member) to $25 (most of them, even the small ones), which adds up quickly if you're a grad student/junior faculty/barista type. You then spend countless weeks indulging in superstitious behavior--knocking wood, crossing fingers, sacrificing love chickens--all in hopes that it'll get past the first layer of readers and maybe the judge will get a sniff at it. And in the meantime, you're still stressing over it because there's another round to enter even before you've heard the results on the last round, and you can't sit a round out because who knows that might be the one? and there's no guarantee that you'll even be a finalist.

Rinse. Repeat.

So tonight, thanks to an email to Amy from a dear friend of ours, I was reminded that April is almost upon us and with it, the spring series of contests. And that means a minimum of a hundred to hundred-fifty bucks out of pocket.

Part of the frustration comes from what you would expect from a person trying to pay the bills as an academic--publish or perish, or in the world of Creative Writing, publish just to have a shot at perishing somewhere down the road.

But the real angst comes from just wanting this period of my writing to come to an end. I've made a turn in my subject matter, but in the meantime, I've got all these poems I've spent the last 5+ years writing and agonizing over, and I want them to be out there and exorcised from my computer. Or something.

And it only takes two people to like my book to make this happen for me--a first reader and a judge. In the same contest. Come on y'all. Hook a brother up.

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