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This is how it all began. And I have very mixed feelings about the whole situation.

On one hand, I think I should actively support Stacey Lynn Brown, because I think the contest system is flawed. I think the contest system takes advantage of poets. She’s a poet, and so am I. I should support her. On the other hand, if I were able to substitute my manuscript for Stacey’s right now, I’d do it in heart beat, photo or no photo. I want publication more than to be “right.” I could get real un-picky, if a publisher offered me a contract.

PWADJ is right, when we enter contests we are contributing to a given press in hopes that we’ll have the winning manuscript. I’m not a gambler; if I went to Vegas, I’d go to WalMart and spend my allotted $50.00 there, because I know I’d get something for it. So why enter poetry contests, which I have done? Well, because the prize is publication. And because the poets I learned from did it this way.

Is it the best way? No. And it’s certainly not the only way. Poets are really footing the bill to publish other poets’ books. So why not your own? Well, because I’d like to know that at least one other person on the planet thinks my manuscript is worth reading. Editors do perform a service that way.

I try to submit my manuscript during open reading periods and to network with people who may have leads as to where I can get published. But all this “join a poet community” doesn’t always work. I am 61 years old and do not want to ”hang” and drink with Artsy “kids.” I don’t drive (poor peripheral vision), and my husband isn’t interested in poetry (but supports me in my interest). Not driving doesn’t make my poetry bad. I want to write poems in my own house and send them out for others to edit it, publish it, and sell it on and in Barnes & Noble. I want to read, when asked.

I didn’t major in business. I taught English. I’m not a seller. But some of my poems sing.

The hope rises again and the dream lives on,” Senator Edward Kennedy said, from the platform of the Democratic National Convention last night in Denver. Kennedy did not appear as sick as he is; he could not. He came to rally the Democrats to do what must be done, just as he has time and time again. And a sea of blue signs returned the love: “KENNEDY.”

But Teddy is the youngest Kennedy, the one who never ran for president. A fixture in the US Senate, he came to support Barack Obama. The speech was classic Kennedy.


I’m not asking who you plan to vote for. Many of you have already expressed that (or will in the days to come). My questions are these: Are you watching the Democratic Convention this week? And do you plan to watch the Republican Convention next week? Why or why not?

August 2008