Archive

Search This Blog

Loading...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Broken Violin


I've been away from the blogosphere for over a month, so let me thank you for stopping by. I don't think there's a better way to come back than with Gene Autry singing "Back in the Saddle Again," but just in case that isn't enough, here's a little out of context T.S. Eliot to set the mood of what this return feels like for me:

from "Portrait of a Lady"

The voice returns like the insistent out-of-tune
Of a broken violin on an August afternoon:
"I am always sure that you understand
My feelings, always sure that you feel,
Sure that across the gulf you reach your hand."

May and June were good months for blogging, and now I'm back in the saddle again. The public writing served then, I think, as a distraction from all the many hands tugging at my coat. Also, for a couple hours per week, it was a nice diversion or rather a controlled interruption from the dissertation work of new poems and lit crit. Which is not to say that I needed to get away from my work, but that thinking aloud on the blogosphere was helpful to what I was thinking and writing about in other spheres. And then July came.

Image via Vanderbilt University


July: packed to the gills.
July: birthing classes and baby prep.
July: The Staycation.
July: too hot to go outside.
July: “Little poppies, little hell flames…”
July: waiting for manuscript news.
July: teaching a summer class every day (wonderful students!)
July: politics detox, rebound, detox again, rebound.
July: listening to stand-up comedy and comedian podcasts instead of politics.
July: birthday introspection.
July: dissertation reading and writing.
July: errands, errands, errands.
July: How is it August already?

Now that you’re up to speed on July, here’s where things stand on the poetry front. A post-July recap:

  • Got word that I’m a finalist for a 2011 Ruth Lilly Fellowship. Results in September. The list of finalists is exceedingly impressive. I’m humbled and honored to see my name there.
  • 4 new poems in the works, one is already out there.
  • Record response time: 90min from The New Republic.
  • Plan to have at least 3 more poems ready to go by the time more journals open in September.
  • Crossed off a few items from my 2011 Poetry Goals.
  • Got word Praise Nothing was a finalist for The Tampa Review Prize, The Saturnalia Books Prize, and The Prairie Schooner Book Prize. That makes five finalist nods and two semifinalist nods. More folks saying it is only a matter of timing.
  • Got the best notification/rejection letter I've ever received. Though I came close and didn't win the prize, I certainly felt like I'd won something. A month later, I'm still running on that letter's fuel.
  • Received an encouraging email from a publisher who asked me to resubmit so they can “keep it in front of [them].” After some debate, I decided to pay the reading fee and resubmit.
  • Waiting to hear from a handful of small presses and contests.
  • CavanKerry and Milkweed – I'm particularly looking forward to hearing from you two.
  • Will start the resubmission process again in September/October, but will need to scale back the number of submissions because of cost.
  • One place to send to in August: Red Hen.
  • Starting to wonder if I need to overhaul the manuscript again. Am I missing something? More on this later...

So, in terms of this public sphere, we’ll see how it goes. My plan is to post twice per week just as I did during the last good stretch in May/June. I'm also going to restart the poetry email list. But, you know, this term will be busy with dissertation work, conference presentations, book reviews, teaching literature instead of workshop, and I’m serving as Asst. Director in the Writing Center and Co-Director of the Young Writers Institute.

Off-campus, though, that’s the biggest and bestest new commitment – it’s Babytime!

Wish me luck.

6 comments:

Nancy Devine said...

wow. congratulations are definitely in order for you.
i love this idea of making poetry goals and actually writing them down.
it is important to be persistent in all this, isn't it?
i do wish you luck....lots of luck!

Anonymous said...

You are rocking it, Josh, and I'm cheering you along all the way. I think I want your book out in the world as much as you do. Don't mess with it!

Fingers crossed on the Ruth Lilly and all other fronts!

Matt

Joshua Robbins said...

Nancy, you're absolutely right about persistence, though I onlyI started writing down my yearly poetry goals within the last few years.

Actually, a friend and I talk it over every year before New Year's, and we help each other identify what's in reach and what should be strived for. We also challenge each other to go after goals that have been ignored for whatever reason. For me, it was submitting work to the Big Guns: NYer, New Republic, Poetry, Paris Review, etc.

Anyway, I recommend it, and thanks for commenting and for your support and good wishes!

Joshua Robbins said...

Matt -- Thanks for the cheers and for the crossed fingers. Regardless of what happens, it's folks like you that make the community of poets functional, and make anxious times like these bearable. Hope your having (had?) a great time in Vermont, my friend! Live it up!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Congrats on all the good news and good luck with the waiting. Fingers, toes, &etc. crossed.

As for the book: STEP AWAY FROM THE MANUSCRIPT.

If you are scoring that many finalist & semifinalist nods, it's only a matter of time. Small corrections maybe...overhaul...no.

Joshua Robbins said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Sandy.

I'm sending it out one more time, and then the plan is to wait for a bit. No overhaul.

I keep thinking about that first book panel at AWP Denver where Dan Albergotti and Nicky Beer spoke about tearing down their manuscripts after each received multiple near misses. I think my mentioning it and toying with the idea may be the psychological prep work needed to go back in if need be.

But, who knows? With you and all the people like you out there crossing fingers and toes, I like my odds.

Killer poems at Anti- this month, Sandy. Congrats to you!