I'm starting this blog to track the travels and life of my first poetry manuscript, Boyishly. (I'll also tell you what you should be watching on Instant Netflix- it's just a skill I have.) I finished the manuscript in at the end of August 2010 and have spent the last year sending it out to the big contests, particularly first book contests. So I'll try to write an entry about each place I sent it and note what happens/happened. But first, a little on why anyone would (a) write a book of poetry (b) attempt to get it published in this era of the poetry game.
I have spent the last year emerging as a poet on both coasts. In 2010, I won the Discovery/Boston Review award (used to be the Discovery/Nation award). In 2011, I was named a Lambda Fellow in poetry. I'll write more on winning each of these contests, what happened, and what they did for me soon, but for right now, I'll just note that both of these contests identify emerging voices in poetry. Winning the Discovery Prize gave me the idea I might be able to make it on something larger than the local stage; being named a Lambda Fellow helped me believe I had a book that was good, had an audience, and did important work.
But I also feel like I've now emerged on both coasts and have a viable manuscript that is ready for publication. And I'm ready to be a poet on a stage outside of North Carolina. But then there's the question of how to get there and in 2011, you get there via a contest. So in this blog, I'll track my experience of trying to be a poet through that path. Will it work? I don't know. Should it work? Maybe. The contest mode is horribly flawed and frankly, seldom brings out good poetry. What it does bring out is a lot of poetry that all sounds alike. And that alike doesn't sound like my poetry. So let's find out what it's like to be an emerging poet in 2011 in the U S of A.