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"Poetry: the best words in the best order." -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Two terms that invariably elicit shudders from burgeoning poets and evoke looks normally reserved for wilted lettuce in a dinner salad are submissions and readings. Writing is, by nature, a personal thing and it typically goes against the grain to lay your inner thoughts and feelings bare to a critical and often harsh world. To mature as a writer, gaining that visibility instinctively shunned is major career progression.
Reading your work to others provides invaluable feedback as to whether you are communicating the message you desire or perhaps something entirely different than you thought. Beginning with friends and writers' groups allows the opportunity to proof-test your work and fine-tune it before throwing it at the feet of the masses. It is also an excellent arena to develop and polish your presentation skills. If you are going to read, take pains to learn to do it well. The best of poetry can be destroyed by a bad reading and alienate an audience to a poet. (A side note here -- do check out Poetry Reading by Charles Bukowski for some sadly humorous insight.)
Readings are valuable, but by nature, give your work limited visibility. If your wish is to reach a larger and more diverse audience, then getting your work published is the most viable option. Submissions! Just why this is such a bugbear to writers (myself included) is a bit of a mystery. It really boils down to matching your best work to the requirements of the publisher or journal to which you are submitting. Requirements and format are nearly always painstakingly clear and following that guide practically guarantees your work will at least get read. Yes, you will get many rejections. This is simply an unpleasant fact but do not throw that poem away. Submit it somewhere else. I have had poems rejected by one journal only to be accepted by another. Sometimes it is a different issue of the same journal and on one occasion by the same editor. Every writer, including the best of their genre, survives multiple rejections. Persistence is the name of the game. Read the best of what you wish to write and ever, keep writing.
"A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor." -- Ring Lardner
Memorial Service for long-time IPA member Larry Link
Larry Lenfred Link (83) of Clive, IA, passed away Dec. 31, 2018. Larry served in the Army as a psychiatric social worker and as a social worker for the state following his military service. He was active in the Des Moines theater scene and was president of the Drama Workshop. His ballroom dance teaching career began right after college and continued through his participation in Des Moines' Castle Club and the Red Friars of Ames. Larry's poems frequently appeared in Lyrical Iowa and he was a regular workshop attendee and reader. He is survived by his wife Nancy Samcoe Link.
There will be a memorial celebration at 2 pm on June 29, 2019, Larry's birthday, at First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, 1800 Bell Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50315.
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