Friday, September 14, 2007

This Forgotten Spot

I have no right to complain. Up until now I have had a good run with this venue. It has afforded me more than I had expected. I have made good online friends: people who I would probably befriend in real time. But I have lost the knack to have the fair reader speak their mind. And yet the followers keep following and the swallows keep swallowing.

That is to say that the readership is still there. It is just that I hear my own thoughts reverberating. This home has gotten perceptibly colder. Can someone help me find the way back? I need to want to read the words. I need to want to see them in print. I need to want them to matter. Help me find this forgotten spot where all seems in sync.


Sandra said...

I'm not certain I'm getting the full mileage of this post--somewhere it seems to shift from talking about blogging to talking about drafting, and I'm not sure where. But I'll say this: you're not crazy, or hopeless.

I always hoped that success as a poet would be an antidote to loneliness as a poet, but they have a much more sinusoidal, undulating relationship.

This sounds awful to say, but I think the strongest poets earn their peers and audience but also will, inevitably, outgrow those peers and that audience. Anything else is just regionalism, whether geographical or aesthetic.

Maybe you're just readying for your next big leap.

Nick said...


I truly want to thank you for your concern. I'm not sure where this angst is coming from. It is not from being lonely per se as a person - as my wife and daughters complete my life beyond what I deserve… But as a writer I can not see my way to the next poem. I have written myself into many of the poems I have posted here to no avail. They have not struck the chord that matters - at least not to me. They have not struck home to the reader what this author is all about. (Perhaps that is the way it is meant to be.) Because, if they had - I am convinced (perhaps wrongfully) - that I would be a much more successful poet. Albeit language is not an efficient instrument to convey the emotional gambit and gradations that flesh is heir to – still perhaps I am deluding myself that I can fashion with this heightened language as close to the gist of the matter - as poetics can get.

It is not that I expect success as a poet to solve this dilemma (i.e. the angst). But it would be nice to be “gotten” as a poet. Or is this what we are left with – just the blind flailing of words?

As for readying for they next step - I don’t think that I like the sound of leap although it might be more correct; I am not convinced that a poet can make a leap without paving a solid foundation from which to leap from.

Collin said...

I was also confused by this post. Was it about blogging or about writing poems. It appears from your response to Sandra it's about poetry.

I think your poetry is good. How to become a "successful" poet takes insane amounts of self-promotion, obsessive submitting and possibly self-publication. I don't think there's a damn thing wrong with self-pubbing a chapbook and getting out to some folks. You eventually have to move beyond mags and journals and this blog. Put something in people's hands.

The work that you let me read earlier this year was excellent. I'd get it together and get a chap out. Take the matter into your own hands.

Nick said...


The truth of the matter is that I have not sent my MS out to enough publishers (although I have not ruled out self-publishing) but that in fact it is my own apathy towards my own work that troubles me. A couple of years ago I was a submitting dynamo. I went so far as to buy return postage for my subs from the US Post Office because international postage was way too expensive. Now I can barely be bothered to send out an electronic sub. When I heard this summer that Poetry was accepting only subs from poets that were never published there - I barely reacted. I did not in fact send them a sub, even though I have several poems which I think deserve publication. Formerly I would have jumped at the opportunity to send my work there.

It is as if I have acquiesced to the belief that my poetry is just not good enough. It's actually very difficult to put into words.

Thanks, Collin, for your continued support and I apologize to all for my terse responses since my return from Europe.

Robert said...

Big batch of rejection slips come in? That's me.

jeannine said...

Um, I hate to say this, maybe this will sound crazy...
but I have a strong belief there is very little connection between how good your writing is (once it is beyond beginner's mistakes - cliche, bad/boring rhyme, sentimentalism, etc) and whether or not it gets published. I read Poetry Magazine and get bored/irritated all the time.
Emily D is constantly dragged out as an example of someone who wasn't published much while she was alive - and it wasn't because she was a bad poet. William Stafford, I think, used to read the lists of mags that had rejected such and such a poem at readings. Jack London and his piles o' rejection. The list goes on. So you can't judge your worth by your acceptance rate.
Self-doubt is common to all writers. Maybe you just need to take a break to get excited about writing (and the attendant pains in the ass, such as submitting) again. Go out and enjoy yourself, do some things you love, read a ton of books that have nothing to do with poetry. I bet you'll start feeling that connection to poetry again.
Anyway, best to you, and try not to feel too discouraged.

Collin said...

Jeannine is right. Very good comment.

Nick, I would also suggest using your recent trip abroad as a source for poems. Maybe you just need a fresh start in a new direction to get the mojo back.

I did submit to the Poetry open reading, althought not with any excitement. Like J, I'm constantly underwhelmed by half of what I read in Poetry.

Keep at it, Nick.

Nick said...


I wish it was that simple - but of course I also have my fair share. Thanks for cheering me up.


I try not to judge my worth by my acceptance rate. I'm pretty successful at it too. But when it comes to the bulk of my best work sent out in the form of an MS (chapbook)...Well it's kinda hard not to take all the apathy to heart. Still, your recommendation to distance myself and take a break is a good idea. Thanks for that.


It's not so much that I have a writer's block as it is that I can't seem to muster up the same kind of excitement that I had for it. Thanks for coming back to this post.

Thanks guys for being there for me & for trying to get me onto the straight & narrow. I'll keep you posted as to how I'm doing with the poetry rehab.

Robert said...

You can start by writing a poem called "at the poetry rehab." :)

Brian Campbell said...

I know what it is to go through that kind of "apathy patch". I went through one for years. Sometimes it's refreshing to practice another art for a while, to regain that refreshing sense of newness. It's not as if the world is pounding at your door asking for poetry. All the advice is good. It's a credit to you that you can elicit it. I second it.

Nick said...


It might go something like this:

At The Poetry Rehab

Monday: Syntax slurred

Tuesday: Diction drunk

Wednesday: Half-meaning to

Thursday: Rope a Trope

Friday: Rhetorical sauna

Saturday: Rhythm Massage

Sunday: Strophe & Clean


You got that right:

It's not as if the world is pounding at my door asking for poetry.

I appreciate all the good advice.

Thanks all. :-)

Robert said...

Hang in there.

vegetablej said...

I happened on your site through a trail starting with "No Impact Man", and I'm very glad I did.

Here's what I have to say to you about your poems: I read "Return to L'Orignal" just now and began to cry. And yet how it happened in this poem is also a mystery, because it's almost all in the last three and a half lines. I'll never forget that grey eye now.

I say, "What do they know?"
I say, "You know more than they."

It will come back, and if it doesn't today, have a picnic. Even poets get to enjoy life. Maybe that's the point. :)

vegetablej said...

Sorry, "A Pilgrimage to L'Orignal".

Nick said...

Thanks! "A Pilgrimage to L'Orignal" is very close to this poet. I'm glad that it moved you.