River City Poetry

buffetI like the buffet as much as anyone.  I can stack my plate as high as I want.  If I don’t like it, I don’t have to finish it.  And if I can’t eat it all, who cares?  I’ll just dump it and go back for something else.

I actually hate buffets.  Human-horse troughs of congealing food.  All the precious smells get swirled together, and people take pride in that stack of plates.  I typically feel guilty, too, if I don’t eat enough to equate out to the value of the price of all I CAN eat.

But I do like the idea that my life is like a buffet plate.  I can put as much as I want on that plate.  I can shuffle things off if it turns out that I don’t like the taste of something.  And I have gotten to taste some great experiences over the last ten years.

I have also realized that I have a larger appetite than I gave myself credit.  For years, I’ve dreamed of running my own poetry anthology.  When I was in the Wichita State MFA program, I began to map out my own aesthetic for such a journal.  But I never did anything with it.  I worked for other people’s journals, reviewed submissions, worked out publishing budgets with submission fees, juried contests for youth and adults, and went through my own struggles as a poet to get published.  The whole time, I felt a great inadequacy for starting anything myself.  I’m too busy.  My teaching load is too heavy.  The girls are just at that age.  I’m committed to this or that at church.  And it’s not like I have time to write my own poetry.  My plate’s just too full.

But it really came down to the idea that I’m just not qualified.

It’s the same feeling I carried around for years about poetry.  It’s why I got an MFA in Fiction instead of Poetry.  It’s why I’ve avoided being labelled the ‘teacher poet’ that writes ‘mommy’ poems.  And I suppose there are folks out there that would agree that I’m NOT qualified and that my poetry remains two-dimensional.  But at this stage, I would just encourage those folks to head on down to the other side of the buffet where the wasabi peas and cucumbers are kept so that they could get something on their plates more to their tastes.

River City Poetry will be several things, but first–a poetry website.  We’ll use the model of small independent presses everywhere, but the internet will be our primary media.  We’ll showcase ten poets in the fall and ten poets in the spring.  We’ll run a summer writing marathon with daily posts and prompts in June.  And we’ll make it a special point to review chapbooks–because these little golden minutes of work never get the kind of attention they deserve.  We’re also going to be active collaborators in the Wichita area, tapping into the energy so inherently part of this place.

The website is currently under construction with a ‘soft’ open in May.  Want to be considered for our summer sampler of poetry?  You can submit up to three poems to rivercitypoetrysubmissions [at] gmail.com .  Our summer sampler will be a one-time issue meant to high light the aesthetic we want to encourage in future submissions.  Our first full reading period will be in August and September.

I sure am looking forward to it.  Come be a part of River City Poetry with me.

Moving Forward

When I first began blogging through this site, I envisioned a place to share my work and my journey as a writer.  At the time, it didn’t occur to me that I would be one of thousands all doing the exact same thing [don’t we all think our journey is unique?].  I also didn’t expect that the arrival of my second daughter and teaching full time would keep me so busy.

Jesus.  I sound naive.  Frankly, I still want to share my work and my journey and I’ve learned to acknowledge that I’m not, in fact, a special snowflake.  And when loss came to visit, I needed to set some things down to focus on that.

But now it’s time to be back in motion.  My work and writing have significantly shifted.  I’ll still be writing and sharing poetry.  But it’s also time to create a space where my fellow writers can be showcased.  And it’s to that endeavor that I hope to spend the majority of my time.  I hope to launch River City Poetry in the fall of 2017.

Turning 40 is significant.  I thought I would be more fully ‘realized’ as an artist. (I’m snorting to write that)

And yet, I’m not sorry for any of the deviations my path took through my 30s.  I started teaching public school.  I have two daughters now.  We moved to the ‘burbs.  And I have two chapbooks that, while I’m not completely satisfied with them, I can honestly say they were published by presses that believed in my work–and that’s no small thing.  It’s also no small thing that after teaching public school for ten years, over 1000 students have passed through my classroom.  And those students have inspired me to continue pushing as an artist, to balance my personal (private), creative life with my intensely external, energetic life as an educator.

I’m glad you’re still on this journey with me.