I have at least 4,000 rejections to my name, probably much more. This is based on calculating from my acceptances, which number about 350. I’m sure that I get at least ten rejections for every acceptance. Hence the wonderful revelation that I’ve eaten a mountain of no thank you’s.
You might be thinking, “The poor guy’s been stung bad, what keeps him going?”
Well, there’s the occasional acceptance. It’s kind of like being in a Skinner Box. The rat knows that if it hits the bar enough, a food pellet will eventually come out.
Another purpose, perhaps overriding, is to revel in the authentic. Start with a blank page, fingers on keyboard, and you’re perched to go anywhere. Poetry is writing at its most distilled and intense.
Raw verse can turn your computer screen, or a simple sheet of paper, into a wormhole. You dare the gods to show their face.
There is also a spiritual hitch. Our world is fucked and I have a burning need to address this. Empathy is key to human survival, and the best poetry exudes it.
Perhaps the greatest enemy of a positive fate is that horrible tendency to be macho and hide from feelings. Although I say “macho,” I mean women too. Both women and men need to channel their anger in healing, expressive ways.
Of course, men have the added burden of developing a set of rudimentary skills, such as accepting their tears and just being able to listen and talk about their hearts.
Yeah, I’m stereotyping. But stereotypes have their place.
I mean, it really is the case that pigheaded male leadership has brought us to the brink of nuclear annihilation.
We need to have poems about war, and many other kinds of poems too. Poems that express what we are taught to hide. Poems infused with honesty, natural beauty, and sensuous magic.
What is a poem but a way of touching the mystical to exclaim, “I am not wasting my life!”