Utterly marvellous, of course. But also odd. I’ve been reluctant to write this post, after all no one likes a show off. There’s also the matter that some of you might read the work which makes me feel a little edgy. Its a peculiar feeling, I want to be heard but I want to hide. Opening up is reserved for the closest of the close and they have a strict set of rules that even I don’t understand. Telling people I’d had a piece of poetry published was largely pleasant, with delightfully enthusiastic responses from those who know how much this means, mixed with a few bemused “well dones” or tales of their own publishing experience. That’s okay, I get that it’s not a big deal to everyone. In many ways it still feels like a delicious, secret surprise.
A big part of my joy is based on the fact that Mslexia is a well respected magazine. It’s been in production since 1999 and is a valuable home for new and established writers. It was recommended by Gerry Ryan, my first O.C.A. tutor and fellow poets as a resource to understand what is happening in the literary world, and somewhere to find innovative, quality work. Having a poem published in Mslexia by the end of this year was the first goal as part of my Dynamo mentoring scheme and I’m kind of chuffed that the plan has worked. The poem is part of the regular Showcase sections of the magazine, where writers from all over the world are invited to submit work on a particular theme.
I still haven’t actively shown anyone the poem. Not even my Beta readers have seen it. It’s birth was odd and angry and one of the most immediate pieces I’ve produced. I was in a huff when I sent it off, with an attitude that it wouldn’t get anywhere. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t crafted, just that the crafting was a rather angsty affair. It was written near the start of the year,in my usual post winter gloom. Looking back, my initial scribblings in response to the theme “cooking” veered into a homely, warm and ultimately false representation of food in my life. I do this a lot, write the shiny magazine version of life, before realising what I actually think and feel. Food is not a subject I’m comfortable with, but I couldn’t let the idea go. What emerged is a block poem, that uses space instead of line breaks or punctuation and describes the place even the most innocuous food occupies in life events. I like the piece, but I am a little afraid of it.
This is what Mslexia judge Rosie Garland had to say about it
‘A bowl of cherries’ ….grabbed hold of me and dragged me in. The lack of punctuation accentuates the headlong rush and circular internal dialogue……..I loved its economical use of repetition. Lines strain against their edges, and the use of irregular blank spaces breaks up the connections between words and heightens a sense of claustrophobia. It left me breathless (Rosie Garland in Mslexia issue 79)
Knowing that I’m writing in a way that someone who doesn’t know me can feel what I’m trying to express is a sign that I’m doing something right. The work I love most, whether music, art, or words, is that which resonates with me and illuminates and validates my emotions. I like the idea of a circular experience, for reader and writer. Having a piece of work publicly acknowledged as worthy of wider consumption completes the circle.