Friday, September 23, 2016

When I found out I didn't belong in a certain room.

Years ago, I went to one of those "how to submit to journals/litmags and get published" get-togethers at Beyond Baroque.

A then-well-known poet named Michelle Ben-Hur, when it was her turn to dispense advice, said something like this:
If you think of poetry as a hobby, then YOU DO NOT BELONG IN THIS ROOM!  (all-caps accurate since her voice got quite loud at that point)

Maybe I should have left the room at that point, since it was becoming clear that I wasn't going to qualify as an academia-friendly poet.   And, therefore, I really didn't belong in the room as defined by Ms. Ben-Hur.

But I wanted to fit in as best as I could--and there was at least one person sitting at the publishing  table who genuinely liked the poems I wrote in that period.

Fast forward to over a decade and a half later, where some of the then-SoCal-based poets/editors have moved to other cities in California--though the bulk of their litmags survive.

Coda: On a recent visit to Beyond Baroque, I discovered that the chapbooks I left there on consignment over the years have disappeared (doubting they were sold like hot cakes)--leaving just two copies of HOLLYWOOD POETRY: 2001-2013, which were apparently spared since they are Real Books instead of DYI.

Obviously, an example of the "survival of the fittest" ethic espoused at that long-ago seminar.

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