Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I Account for Myself

 Following Lisa Romeo's lead, instead of compiling a list of goals for 2012, I'm reflecting on the accomplishments of 2011. My reflections are limited to my poetry life.

Taking care of my own work:

For the past two years I gave myself the goal of spending time writing three mornings a week. I never seemed to meet that goal and thus had the feeling of being a non-productive slug. Some months ago I lowered my standard to two mornings a week. I'm happy to say that I've not only met my goal of two sessions per week, I've exceeded it. Perhaps lowering the goal took the pressure off and gave me more freedom? Anyhow, my productivity has increased. As I add new poems to my desktop folder, I can see that the list is getting plump. And I only add the ones I'm interested in sending out. The losers and the undones stay in the Ramblings folder. That, of course, is the thicker folder.

I didn't send out submissions as routinely this past year as I used to—post-book drag, I think, and the need to generate new work—but several weeks ago, probably because the folder was getting fuller, I went on a submission rampage and now have a number of submissions out. That feels good. I like the possibility each day of getting interesting mail.

I've done a number of readings, including one that took me to New Hampshire for two days. I've cut back on doing poetry-in-the-schools as I found it was really draining my energy. Just doing freelance visits so I can stipulate no more than 3 classes per day. Protecting my energy level.

Supporting other poets:

I have continued buying as many books by other poets as I can afford. If someone reviews my book, I buy that person's book. I usually try to write an Amazon review or in some way return the kindness of a review. If someone buys my book and lets me know about it, I try to return the favor when that person has a new book.

I have continued to use my blog and my Poetry Newsletter to spread the word about poetry and poets. I deeply believe in the poetry community and our mutual need to support and assist each other. I have featured a number of poets at my blog and always do a book recommendation in the newsletter and invite a poet to offer a craft tip. These poets seem to get some book sales and new fans as a result. I am really proud of the Newsletter and how it has taken off. Each month I pick up a bunch of new subscribers. They come from all over the world. Both activities are stimulating and fun, don't require new clothes and don't make me report to an office.

I organized two poetry events last year—"Girl Talk" for the third year and "Poetry Festival: A Celebration of Literary Journals" for the eighth year. Both events are scheduled again for this year. I also hosted two readings at my husband's restaurant—one for the journal Adanna and the other for the journal Tiferet.

I served as Guest Editor for the inaugural issue of Adanna, judged a chapbook contest for Wisconsin poets, and was again a reader for a book contest.

At the same time I am putting down my foot about supporting people who haven't supported my work. Don't ask me to buy, blurb, or review your book if you haven't at least bought and read my latest book. I mean, really, it's just a matter of fairness, isn't it? And please, if you haven't supported my work, don't ask me to pre-order and pay for your forthcoming book or chapbook so you can get a good print run. I mean, really. I'm somewhat low-key about pushing my books, but fair is fair. This is me protecting my time and energy (and my wallet). Crabby, yes, but necessary.

Taking it outside of the poetry community:

One of my favorite things to do is to bring poetry to an audience that doesn't typically attend readings. I recently read for the University Women of West Essex at their fall luncheon. I talked and read about how poetry reflects the lives of women. It was one of my favorite readings. They fed me, bought books, and paid me which was really cool as I'd thought I was doing the reading pro bono; thus, I felt like a generous soul and fattened my wallet at the same time.

I have another such reading scheduled for a group of seniors, also not a poetry group, and am looking forward to that.

Looking forward:

I desperately need a day of poetry with a group of like-minded poets. I want the stimulation of us giving each other prompts all day, one after the other. I should make this happen.

8 comments :

  1. Congratulations on your accomplishments and wishing you the best in the coming year. I like your idea of bringing poetry to a new audience!

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  2. Wonderful recap here, Diane. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments.

    Thanks for doing all you do to support poets & poetry!

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  3. Oh, I love this accounting! Thanks for all the ways you support poetry, and I understand the reciprocity concern, etc. Best wishes with new writing, and I do love the lower-the-expectations and then exceed them method!

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  4. So glad my post about the *Did It List* helped inspire this one. Kudos on all of your many 2011 accomplishments, and I love that there are so many on this list about helping others & spreading poetry to non-poets.
    Best of luck in 2012.

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  5. A good year, it seems! May next year be just as good, or even better.

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  6. Thanks, Everyone, and best of luck with your own writing in 2012.

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  7. You say, "I desperately need a day of poetry with a group of like-minded poets. I want the stimulation of us giving each other prompts all day, one after the other." Oooh, yes, and can I join you? It would be fun. I may even know a place to hold a day-long poetry prompt extravaganza.

    Thanks for the good words and good works, Diane. May 2012 be wonderful.

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  8. Thanks, Anne. I do this in my house and much as I'd love to have you I suspect that the drive would be a bit too far for you.

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