Five:2:One Magazine asked for my batshit crazy submissions. Okay. Early on in my quest to rack up publishing points, I came upon Five2One. Their site has a section for micro poetry, which they apparently define loosely. I was looking for corners where my poems might find a niche. These editors were looking for the wild, reckless, unhinged stuff. My cover letter went like this:
In the spirit of the literary freakshow, I’m flinging the five poems listed below for your consideration. You asked for it; I don’t usually inflict Lobster-Eating Bogeyman on anyone. I didn’t realize micro poetry was a thing or that I was doing it, but here goes! This is a simultaneous submission. I will notify you immediately if any of these poems is accepted elsewhere.
They quickly got back to me, and with a letter that began, “Yo, Wren,” they scooped up all five poems I’d sent. No stuffy dignity here.
When people tell me they don’t understand poetry, I respond that they’re asking the wrong questions. They expect a poem to tell them a story, make them feel fluffy or know the presence of God. Poetry appreciation in schools is very uneven and fades away far too early. I read my poem, Lobster-Eating Bogeyman to such folks and instead of asking what the poem means, I ask them how it makes them feel. There’s no story in LEB, and definitely no fluffy. Universally, people say that it makes them feel disturbed. This is a poem that achieves its goal. I wrote it during/about a mental health episode, a storm of panic and anxiety. My aim was to portrait, even transmit that feeling. The story of what made me feel that way doesn’t matter to my goal, and I don’t remember it anymore. Telling the story would not have had the same visceral effect.
I walk through the world as a queer woman. That’s automatically a fertility issue for me; I always wanted children. Being queer, I had to go to extra lengths to try for parenthood. Added to that impediment, I’ve had uterine fibroids all of my adult life. I walk through the world as a person who wanted children, never had them, and, for most of my life, I taught children. Place me at the barbecue, sitting in circles of parents talking about their children. Endlessly. The difference is Apparent.
I aim to state specifics in my poems. Okay, tree. But what kind of tree? My poems are heavy on concrete images. Yet I want readers to relate, to have a universal human experience. That was a challenge in my poem, Simile, because, honestly, I was writing about my grief at the loss of my pet duck, Lilith. I decided to go with human images in this study of grief. This poem also plays with the concepts of simile and metaphor as ways of describing experiences like grief. Of course, since I was in film school at the time, it wraps with a Hollywood reference.
While Jean Doesn’t Write started out as a playful, private nudge to a friend. First it has science fiction imagery that filled my brain then. But then I turn it to political and personal prods to goad my friend, who was distracted from her writing by a demanding job. Now, years later, who can say which path was best for her. I have my own serious doubts that this poetry thing has any relevance or power to effect change. Anyway, I had to try…
White Paper Poetree is the second poem I tried to write recently, getting back to writing while I struggle with brain fog and other ailments. My process is different, few sweeping inspirations, just hacking fits of stabbing at paper. I guess that’s what got me writing about the paper, and of course, even as I struggle with my own impairments, I get in touch with my privilege. I manage a lot of word play, starting with the title. I use rhythm and line breaks. Think of “flipping ocean waves and seeping petrol” as a parallel to the paper and ink. I comment on the structure of information in our society, how we are shielded from the view of, the knowledge of atrocities like slavery, as we blithely benefit every day. Oh, and, “smacked by atmosphere,” you’re welcome.
I had my break from writing due to illness at a time when I was starting to shift from a lot of navel gazing topics to looking out at the world. I am interested to see if that shift is noticeable as I attempt more new writing.
Thanks for playing along. More coming soon!