I have always been kind of slow when it comes to these sorts of things, so bear with me. I was just informed by someone my post yesterday, regardless of my explanation near the top, might be taken by some to be an accusation or sour grapes on my part for not being “embraced” by the poetry community as much as I might hope. It was also suggested what I have said might come across as being ungrateful by those who have indeed accepted my into their personal neighborhood of said poetry community.
Let me be very straightforward and blunt. In no way am I trying to express anger, sour grapes, or come across as being ungrateful. In this regard, I am none of these things. I am simply trying to come to grips with what I see to be a list of expectations in the poetry profession and my inability to meet those expectations.
For the record, I have had a great deal of success in the poetry community. Three chapbooks, another about to be released, a full length collection, and publication in many wonderful journals. I also count among my successes the many acquaintances I have made because of this blog, poetry in general, and the many presses from whom I have purchased books. I count myself very fortunate to have so many poets consider me worthy of their time and trust when they share news and new poetry with me ahead of the public in general. Thank you to everyone (and I hope you all know who you are) because you have made my life in poetry something I cherish.
My point is this: I am at a point in the development of my life as a poet where one might accurately state my serious apprenticeship has begun. With the amount of success I have had, a certain amount of devotion and effort was required. And to use the analogy of martial arts, the original black-belt was a mark not of mastery, but that the student was serious about studying the art. I am not a master by any means, but I am serious about the art. Unfortunately, I am at a critical juncture I see several of the poets I admire have gone through, and I am simply not equipped to travel along any of the paths they have taken. I am not speaking of the “every poet takes a different path.” I am speaking of the routes a poet must choose between when getting ready to make that next advancement, reach that next level of devotion and commitment to his or her art.
What I know about the next step for me is that it will not be the same next step (again, generically speaking) I have seen so many other poets take. My commitment to poetry remains high. I am still in love with poetry. I still dearly admire the same poets I did a week ago, and I will still take great delight in discovering new poets. It’s just that I am going to be busy trying to find my own way, watch most of you from a distance. No anger. No accusations. Just how I see my place in all of this.
I hope that if any of you were offended by what I said yesterday, this helps to clarify what my real intentions were. I hope you can make some sense of this.