Love is a wonderful thing…most of the time. But sometimes, love goes bad. It becomes something horrible and wrong. It hurts more than it uplifts. It haunts you. It taunts you. It becomes a nightmare.
I’ve been in love enough times to be intimately familiar with both sides, the dark and the light. The happy and the sad. The wrong (too many times) and the right (once). In fact, it took me 30 years to find The One after many near misses (one ill-fated engagement that ended badly and one actual marriage that was right at the time, but hurt too much to continue). I’m happy to report that I’m happy and I’m in a solid, healthy relationship with the best husband on the planet. It took me quite awhile to get here, and the journey is what lead me to write Without Wings, my second chapbook, which is releasing on April 1st.
Backing up just a bit….I started writing poetry at age 11. I’d discovered free verse poetry, which was awesome. To this day, I don’t really care to write rhymed poetry (with some exceptions) or read it, unless it’s done really, really well. Free verse is what set me free and allowed me to express myself in a totally different way. My first poem? It was about a unicorn, and it was published in my junior high’s newspaper. I putzed around a bit with poetry after that, but didn’t do anything seriously until I was 16 and had my heart broken by my very first crush.
Oh, God. The poetry just poured out of me. It was lame, but honest, but it helped me cope with my feelings. When my first boyfriend and I split up after 13 crazy months, I turned to poetry to make sense of it. And again after my ill-fated engagement ended at age 22. I wrote so much. I wrote almost every day. I used to write pages of poetry at my office job, where I worked afternoons and evenings alone (shhh! don’t tell anyone). I still have those papers somewhere, and every time I look at them, I’m transported back in time to when it happened.
Around that same time, I started trying to get my poems published. Honestly — they sucked. I know they did (hindsight being 20/20 and all that). I got a few acceptances, but more rejections. I tried a few ‘zines multiple times, never quite hitting it right. Until I stumbled upon the editor of Prism Galliard magazine, who taught me so much about poetry and imagery and flow. He had me do revisions, and with each one I learned more. Naturally, he accepted quite a few poems of mine for publication in Prism Galliard for which I will always be grateful.
It was about that time when I made a turn around from a mediocre poet to a good poet. I wrote and wrote more, refining my work as I went. I honed my skills and kept reading and writing and submitting.
And then I got hit by the novel writing bug in 2003. With the exception of the Life as a Moving Target poems (if you haven’t checked it out, please do!), I didn’t write much poetry at all, except the occasional poem here and there.
Things started going downhill in my first marriage, and once again, I turned to poetry. I discovered the beauty of sestinas and other formal types of poetry, and experimented with them. I produced some great stuff (in my humble opinion, of course!) and I felt like I was turning yet another corner. I was expanding my repertoire, trying new things, learning. To this day, I still love sestinas and pantoums, even though they are really hard to write.
I submitted earlier versions of what became Without Wings to quite a few contests. Every month, I’d get out my Writer’s Digest or Writer’s Market and peruse it, marking potential contests to submit to. I’d put together the manuscript, edit it, edit it some more, and send it out into the world. I got rejected each and every time. In one rejection, the editor was quite rude and discouraging. I wondered — briefly — if I were deluding myself. Maybe the chapbook sucked. But I remembered Prism Galliard’s editor and the work we did together and knew that it couldn’t be that bad. It was one opinion, that was all. It wasn’t right for him. Maybe somebody else would take it on.
Life moved on, as it always does, and I got heavily into writing novels, even more so than before. I didn’t think much about poetry except that I wanted to publish a chapbook.
When Turtleduck Press came into being, I knew I’d hit upon something good. So I took all those poems I labored over and put the chapbook together again, adding the newer stuff that I’d written. And sent it off to my three reviewers who approved it.
On April 1st, you’ll get to read the result.
I think poems can be a labor of love. You try to express something fragile and fleeting in the best manner possible. Sometimes you’ll hit upon that on the first try (like with my poem “The Residence” in Without Wings …I think I tweaked it a bit after writing the first draft, but it came out pretty much what it is now the first go around) and sometimes you have to massage it, tweak it, ponder it, dream it.
My poems in Without Wings are like little messages lovingly released into the world to touch someone’s heart. They may not be perfect, and they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they are mine. My messages to you, dear reader. Hope you enjoy them and I hope they make you look at life (and love) a bit differently. I hope they inspire you and touch you. In them, I finally found the wings I needed to soar.