Speaking of batting averages...
Boston (well, actually, Somerville) is the first city I lived in after receiving my poetic license. Here again now, enjoying the sun off the Charles and the good food at Toro and the many offerings at the American Literature Association Annual Conference, I’m wondering what it means to be a publishing poet.
I went on a walk of nostalgia today. I remembered how much I prefer the Red Line to the Green Line. I remembered how amazing the selection is at the Wine and Cheese Cask. I felt bad about not calling my old friends (apologies to everyone, I promise to call ahead on my next visit, the excuses are myriad, call and I’ll spill). I even remembered (when I snuck out of the conference for a short visit to my old neighborhood—highlights pictured above) the man we called Tony the Tiger.
Tony lived across the street from me. I remember my elation upon receiving notice about an early poem’s acceptance to a journal I was quite excited to be published in. Tony, I recall, scoffed, wondering when I would publish in a journal he’d actually heard of.
Oh, to be an American poet.
I remember meeting Maya Lin, the vision behind the Vietnam Memorial on the DC Mall. Her brother is a poet. But when I asked her what she thought of Yusef Komunyakaa’s “Facing It,” arguably one of the most anthologized poems by the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, she’d didn’t know what I was talking about.
The odds are against our poems, and our poetry publications, gaining a major audience.
Tony the Tiger is likely never to hear about most of the places where I publish my work.
So, returning from my trip to the little alley where Tony questioned me about my publication record, I was already thinking about these things when, while on the T (the steady Red Line, not that lurchy Green), I stumbled on a blog post in which the poet Timothy Green compares submission acceptance rates to baseball’s Batting Average on Balls in Play.
I don’t know what more to say about this other than that, with the sun glinting off the Charles, the MIT sailing team out for afternoon drills, my guilt over not calling Steve or Eloise or Tom or David or Victor or Amanda or Lynne or …. in high gear, and my nostalgia about myself as a young poet eager to publish and not sure where or whether or if ever enough all ramped up, Green’s post put it all into a kind of perspective I can live with for awhile.
Poet and editor Camille T. Dungy was born in Denver but moved often as her father, an academic physician, taught at many different medical schools across the country. She earned a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Dungy’s full-length poetry publications include Trophic...