The last few months have packed a lot of poetry-firsts for me: my first chapbook was published, I attended my first AWP Conference, I received my first-ever solicitations for poetry submissions from literary publications (two!), and then several weeks ago I received my first-ever piece of poetry fan-mail. A high school student (we'll call her H) reached out to me through e-mail after having discovered my poems on wicked alice. She was writing a school paper about me and my poems for an English Lit class--she had chosen me as her contemporary poet for researching and analyzing. I can't say how surprised and flattered I was by this message. The fact that strangers are reading and enjoying my poetry, that they are discovering me online and making personal connections with my work, is astonishing to me and so exhilarating.
H and I corresponded for a couple of weeks, trading questions and answers, and discussing poetry and feminism and fairy tales at length. Her final paper has been completed and turned in, but we have promised to continue writing. H told me that she was very pleasantly surprised that I was so willing to talk to her and to respond to her questions so quickly. I was endlessly impressed and warmed by her politeness, her sharpness and insight in interpreting my poems, and her enthusiasm for learning the backstory for each piece. Beyond being extremely flattered, this experience has also left me feeling very refreshed. You put your poems out there in the world and people actually read them. How awesome is that?