There isn't a poet who doesn't want to see their work in print. A poet doesn't exist who doesn't want to see their work in a single publication authored by themselves. It sure is my dream.
In search of the dream, I used Google in hopes of finding small publishing companies that might give me a fair reading and be so bowled over by my words that they would be banging on my door begging for the opportunity to make a book few people would read and that would cost them money they would never recoup.
Instead, I found this pithy writing by a fellow poet and publisher of a small press in Easton, Pa. - a little city near enough I could communicate by carrier pigeon and the bird wouldn't have to stop for a respite on its journey. Being inundated with poets, such as myself, inspired the editor to create a form letter of, gasp, rejection to remind us of why we write and, oh how horrible the thought, of why we won't be published unless we pay for it ourselves. Here is her letter.
"Dear Would-Be Poet, If you are expecting to be paid for poetry, you are sadly misinformed about the genre. You are wasting your time writing poetry because you have missed the point of the entire effort. You have failed to understand that poetry doesn't pay, it costs. Writing poetry costs your heart and soul. It costs years of study, of reading, and of listening. Poetry costs going to readings not only to read your own work but to truly hear the work of others. Poetry isn't a paying job; it is a way of life. If you expect to get paid for your work, dear poet, look elsewhere. Poetry pays infinite intrinsic rewards and few, if any, external ones. Sincerely, the Editor."
God pity me. My dream is in tatters and I'll probably always be poor and unknown, like most poets. She goes on to remind us of these truths.
"Friends, you've got to love poetry to be a part of it. What else but a love of the art (and make no mistake about it, poetry is art) could explain endless hours spent on one poem -- or even one line -- squeezing it, rolling it, shaping it, into something that makes the connection between heart and paper via pen? Or driving an hour to stand with shaking knees behind a podium (or worse yet, just standing up in front of a group with no "prop"), to read one two-minute-or-less long poem? Or sending out submission after submission in hopes of publication; not in payment, but in publication.
"You've got to love something that gives such small repayment for devotion: the ink on a sheet of printed paper that spells out your heart with your name attached. And yet, friends, I've got to tell you that after more than 30 years of writing poetry, just seeing a poem of mine in print, with my byline, is worth everything, nothing more required. Funny, isn't it?"
Carole J. Heffley
That byline is worth more than money. When I was writing special interest articles for a local newspaper, I had to fight hard to get that byline. Ever notice that most newspaper articles don't have one of these coveted and precious bylines? Editors are stingy with them. Credit isn't always given where credit is due. I carried my scrap right to the mayor. If I didn't get a byline, the newspaper didn't get my articles, and, since I was writing about a wagon train that was traveling through our town, the editors really wanted my article. I won and was forevermore given appropriate credit.
Now, I rarely win. Journals want a particular style or subject and they have their own agenda. I can't write for the market. I can't study a hundred periodicals just to find out what is selling and then write accordingly. Hence, my dear followers, I've decided to share more of my work here on this blog. It may be the only opportunity I have to share my work. I've awakened from my dream to live reality and, if the dream ever comes true, that will just be the icing on the cake.