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February 16, 2011 by Tracey S. Rosenberg

I sent a bunch of poems out at the end of January and the beginning of February – the first time I’d done that for several months, so it was nice to get back into the thick of submitting. Had a polite rejection a few days ago, and then today had three poems accepted/published by Queen Vic Knives.

The poems are Widower, Commas, and Semper Fi and I say that they use Bad Language not because anyone reading this is likely to shun such things (or, heaven forbid, view me as a delicate flower who should not know the meaning of such words) but because some of you have jobs and may not wish to click on such links during work time.

Anyway, what I came here to say was that the advantages of internet publishing are a) instant gratification and b) being able to tell everyone about it with a few links, but that the disadvantages include…not existing. Last year I published a small poem (‘Broken’) on a website called The Talon. Not long ago, during this submission phase, I checked their site but they were down for a refit. I checked again today and the entire site is gone, with nothing but ads and a cheerful invitation to buy the domain name.

Now, I have the text of the poem; that’s not the issue. And I doubt anyone’s going to challenge me on whether it was actually published online. But I didn’t get a printout or a screen shot, so in the absence of any cached version (and I can find none), that particular publication is lost and gone forever.

Annoying. Poetry is ephemeral enough without it being replaced by flashing ads. On the other hand, we’ve all read Farenheit 451.

About those poems: ‘Commas’ and ‘Semper Fi’ are tiny little things, and I’m not sure what sort of mood I was in while writing the latter. The former was inspired by a co-worker who wrote e-mails without commas. Like, no commas at all. Just constant streaming sentences. (Of course, the moment I noticed that, in came an e-mail with two commas.) There was actually a fairly pragmatic reason for this, involving not being a great typist, but naturally I like my interpretation better.

And ‘Widower’…this is one of those times when I think, ‘my biographer is going to get this wrong.’

(I don’t actually think I will ever have a biographer, but occasionally I do ponder what someone would think if the poem or journal I’m writing were to become part of a literary estate some day. I intend to torch all my journals, probably in a dramatic scenario involving a wooden boat, but right now they’re a stack of Moleskines in the wardrobe.)

The reason why my biographer might get this wrong is because if you are aware of a particular unpleasant situation I was once in with a co-worker – I really must find gainful employment soon, because clearly many of my poems arise from people I work with – you would think, AHA! This poem is a direct result of that. And such an interpretation makes sense on several levels. Problem is that I wrote the poem a good couple of months before the situation ever came up.

At StAnza last year, Dennis O’Driscoll said something to the effect that the best poems are written before the event. I keep noticing this. I wonder if it happens to anyone else. I shall have to ask.

‘Widower’ is also one of those poems where I find one line and build an entire sonnet around it. In this case, I had to strip back the entire sestet and redo it, and shift the line because I couldn’t get a decent rhyme. I’ll let you guess which word I refer to. Hint: NSFW.


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Photo credit: Rahima Subhan

Tiny bio

I live, work, and write in Edinburgh. I travel to other places as much as I can. To contact me, email writingmostly at gmail dot com.


CURRENTLY READING: The Ginseng Hunter by Jeff Talarigo.

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