Collisions with poems

Here’s another quote from the Don’t Ask Me What I Mean anthology:

“The poet only speaks one way. He hears nothing back. His words as he utters them are not conditioned by a real ear replying from the other side… He never knows who will collide with [the poem] and maybe even use it as a different utensil from what he intended.” —W.S. Graham

A good ‘un for anyone who’s had their poems workshopped or reviewed… or indeed even had their poem used in a sermon. Which was my experience: a friend googled me a few years ago and discovered the text of a Mother’s Day sermon based upon my poem The Boston School of Cooking Cookbook. I wondered how the sermonizer had found it (he was from the Unitarian Universalist Church, in Chandler, Arizona) until another friend mentioned she’d seen my name in a women’s poetry anthology, Claiming the Spirit Within: A Sourcebook of Women’s Poetry, which I discovered came out in 1996. I bought my contributor’s copy from Abe last year. According to the permissions listed in the book, the poem appears courtesy of Iris, where it first appeared, and from whom I never received a contributor’s copy either. Who knows why. I’d probably moved by the time the poem appeared in the journal. That all happened back before googling and email made it easier to track people down I guess.

I’d also had to buy my own contributor’s copy when I discovered (by googling myself this time) that my poem Circle Game appeared in Thru the Smoky End Boards: Canadian Poetry About Sport & Games . But that was after a few fruitless go-rounds from my publisher to them at Polestar / Raincoast. I’m always charmed to appear in anthologies, but it gets tiresome when it actually costs me money to have my poems published.

The well-travelled poet Glen Sorestad has just returned to Saskatoon from a different part of Texas. We’ve been doing a kind of long distance duet lately: I went to Saskatoon a couple of days before he left for Victoria. He returned from Victoria the day I left for Victoria. And we both left for Texas the same week. Down in Brownsville he was part of a reading which to his surprise and delight the local paper actually reviewed. Good on them. What kind of world could this be if we were able to get poetry books reviewed in our newspapers, and readings too?

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