New Published Poems

Hello friends! As November draws to a close, I am looking forward to settling down and enjoying the cozy month of December. Although, my schedule (as always) is getting fuller and fuller. This month I participated in the Writer’s Digest November Poem a Day Challenge, and was actually successful! I still have to write a poem today, but I’m not worried about breaking my streak. I am very proud of myself for committing to at least attempting a poem every day. Some of the prompts got just the very start of a poem— but hey! That’s better than nothing.

This has been a big year for me as a writer. I started a Substack, and then joined another to write with my friend E R Skulmoski, have gotten braver about sharing my work, and have had 5 poems published! I’ve talked about the first three already, so today I am going to share the other two, and talk a little bit about each!

The first poem, “Mullberry Season,” was published by The Way Back To Ourselves in their fall journal. This poem, very dear to my heart, was written after an outing with my son, in which we simply walked down the street to a lonely mulberry tree and picked a bag of berries. For some reason, this simple activity spurred on lots of thoughts, most of them centering around gratitude for a peaceful day. When my son was first born, and for many many months after, I struggled immensely with anxiety. This poem was born out of a day where I realized I hadn’t felt that weight on my shoulders for a while.

Some poems come to me very easily, emotionally, and all I have to do is piece the words together in the right way. Other poems are not so easy. I think there are two ways I write— pouring emotion onto the page, like I did in “Mulberry Season,” or carefully crafting after getting an idea that I just can’t shake. That’s how this second poem worked for me. It is called “Adam lights a cigarette and doubts God’s existence for the first time.” It was published this week by Solid Food Press (which I highly recommend you peruse). The title came to me first, along with an image of Adam blowing smoke into the air as the weight of the broken world sat heavy on his shoulders. But the title and the last few lines were all I had for a year. A year! I sat on that poem, revisiting it occasionally, wondering what it needed, how to expand on this picture in my mind. And finally, because I desperately needed to bring something fresh to my critique group, I sat with it until I could get the words on the page.

My process was so different for each of these poems. For “Mulberry Season,” it was cathartic and emotional, and the actual process enjoyable. For “Adam,” it was more like a puzzle, very satisfying to finally figure out, but often frustrating. I think that oftentimes as a writer, especially when I was younger, I chased the enjoyment of process vs outcome. If the poem wasn’t “flowing” out of me, I struggled to commit to sitting down and hammering it out. Now that I am older, more determined, and more confident in my poetry as craft and not just expression, I finish way more poems. I love the payoff of working out a really good poem. Writing regularly helps me build my confidence, because I always have plenty of material to craft with. Sometimes I revisit a note on my phone and a line stands out to me and boom. Something clicks. Other times I show my trusted writer friends a verse that is troubling me, and they force me to think about it in a new way.

If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to doubt yourself when the process of creating your art doesn’t feel good. But rarely is the outcome contingent upon how the process feels. Some of my best poems were so difficult to write that I said to myself, “this cannot be any good.” And when I reread them later, they had a lot of promise. Of course, I’ll never stop chasing the high of writing a poem that feels like it’s just using my pen as a way to be born. But I’m ok with knowing that if I want to be a successful writer, those can’t be the only poems I finish.

Thanks for reading, friends! I hope you enjoyed reading my new poems and hearing about my process. Do you relate?


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